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roadies get help here                                                              roadies free advice and info

"So You Want to be a Roadie?"



roadie information, help and free tips    

Oh, I'm Tired!


  Or maybe you want to employ one?

How to be one - or know enough so you can employ one with confidence


The idea sounds good?  A life with the stars?  Champagne and Caviar?

There are three ways to look at a career [or a brief fling] as a 'Roadie'.

1) A means to get to know the ropes on the road.  Probably a touch of 'sound engineering' will be thrown in?  Or lighting design?  Or stage design?  Or instrument teching [looking after guitars, drums, synths]

2) A means to an easy life of the renowned Sex, Drugs, Rock 'N Roll

3) A means to get on the ladder, take the place of the guitar player/synth player/lead singer who falls ill and the show can't go on without YOU?

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  Lets get down to business:

A means to get to know
the ropes on the road -

In my opinion, and in the opinion of most of my pals who have experience of the 'roadie' life I would suggest that a combination of (1) and (3) is the best option.

Roadies, at least the ones who are dedicated to the life, know the ropes and have got the back bone and resilience to put up with the 27 hour days, salted car tyre sandwiches and rusted six inch nail filled damp beds, will tell you they are 'stone in love with' the life... for that is what it is ... a life... a vocation?

Contrary to public belief, it is not a glamorous, fun filled, booze fuelled, sex driven heaven with just a tad of lifting involved.

It is a tough, hard, grab sleep when you can, lifting mighty heavy stuff slog with little thanks, plenty of being shouted at and little dosh at the end of the gig.  So using the life as a means to get on the ladder makes sense?  Yes?

Free|roadie tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  Getting started:

Getting started is the real easy bit.

Almost every band, in every city, in every country, in every planet of the Universe is short of roadies.  Now here, I don't mean short of the highly professional guys who tour with Beyonce and Il Divo [for those gigs you need to have done all the years of the cheapie local band gigs and need a sh*t hot CV ... trust me!]

  Every band needs roadies

Every band needs the guy who will hump the gear [known as 'humpers' for that reason].

Every band needs the guy who will go out in the pouring rain to get the suit-bag the star has left in the wagon [usually a 15 year old rust bucket that breaks down every second gig - hence little sleep]

The Real Story?  The constant breakdowns?  roadies and what they have to do

Every band needs the guy who will do any job, including holding forth at the sound desk while the sound engineer goes out to smoke his roll-up, with dubious contents, of the 'losing your mind' kind.  Handle the merchandising, get the take-aways.


All members of The Serious Writers Guild can call Dec direct on his private phone line to his desk to discuss any points. 

 Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting My wisdom? To you?

Do it!

Don't ask questions relating to Employment Law or minimum salary ... you simply will not get the gig.  [This should not be construed as legal advice]

Free roadie tips|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  How much can you earn?

Realistically?  You will lose money until you have learned the game.  The real story is that you should treat it as fun but with a serious learning curve attached.  Volunteer for everything [particularly the merchandise selling ... you will get 10%]   [Again, this should not be construed as legal advice]

Merchandise selling teaches you serious 'selling' skills ... you don't sell, you don't get dosh ... simple?  Treat it as a 'performance'.

roadie advice and tips  Merchandise stand - where you can make money

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  What can you learn?

There is a mountain to learn ... sound.... where the cables go, what cables do what.  Best positioning for cables.  The art of keeping cables neat, tidy and, most importantly, invisible.  Rolling and tying cables when finished.  Always ready for the next gig ... whether you are involved in the next gig or not.


Learn the word 'certainly' .

Any thing you are asked to do say it!  Guys who use that word every time are like gold dust and get the gig every time.

You can observe methods for striking gear [removing from stage and packing] ... observing can show you how labour wasting most band's methods are.  The top hire companies only employ the guys who know the efficient methods.  Always learn the jargon used ... QUICK!

Microphones, what mics. do what, on which instrument?  On which drum?  The vocal mics.?  Radio mics?  What are D.I's [Direct Injection box ... instrument plugs in and goes direct to the sound desk].  What is MIDI and how does it work?  [Musical Instrument Digital Interface] ... a system that allows digital instruments to 'talk' to each other.

My advice?  Watch, learn quick, and volunteer .... ask the questions.  A good fellow Roadie will be delighted to give the answers.  It makes him feel knowledgeable.

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  A word of warning:

Be desperately careful of picking up bad habits and bad techniques.  Particularly in striking and setting up [ if you are with a small time band ]

Correct sound engineering methods are all over 'How To Make A $Million From Your Music' ... but sadly, a local band will not have that knowledge.  As an added slice of wisdom, do not try to impose your knowledge on your fellow Roadies ... they won't like it.  They probably enjoy the experience too much.  Most guys are simply in it for the 'fun'.

Remember, you are there to pick up experience and any additional knowledge that comes your way.  In a clinical sense.

It is also invaluable experience in interfacing with fellow crew, stars [or aspiring stars] and the public..... invaluable.

Fabulous lighting knowledge is available in 'The Art of Live Performing' at http://www.liveperforming.com

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting  How to get the gig?

Just approach any band appearing locally ... you will have to live close to their 'pick-up' point, where they set off to their appearances.

Offer to help, don't demand a set amount ... you won't get it ... trust me.

They will offer you a silly amount or Zilch ... take it.  You are learning on their time ... remember that.  It is like an old-time apprenticeship.  You can only learn on the road ... so take the gig.  Colleges do not teach this stuff.

It really helps if you can drive ... and have a clean license ... and be the one who only has a half of lager and can drive the 250 miles home with all your fellow crew and band hammered and smoked to death!  Not to mention the nostrils stuffed with strange white stuff?


All members of The Serious Writers Guild can call Dec direct on his private phone line to his desk to discuss any points. 


In the UK and the USA the best place to learn is the local Council run theatre.  Hard to get a position but the teaching is stunning.  Offer to help with 'get-in's' [off loading the stage trucks - usually on Saturday nights] and 'get out's' [same in reverse].  Usually good money, unsocial hours and a job that no one wants because they are out with girl friends or partying.

Be aware that they will also teach you their 'Union Rules' way of working complete with all the extraordinary 'Health and Safety' rules way of working ... they are very efficient and correct but usually a pain in the butt to share a theatre with!  Pick the good points and leave all the other stuff behind you when your stint there ends.   [This, again, should not be construed as legal advice]

I have worked with those bods ... seriously weird, when you want a simple job done!

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting   Another word of warning:

Be aware that there is only one way to learn sound engineering and sound mixing plus lighting design .. that is the correct, theoretical way [from The Serious Writers Guild or an expensive Sound and Technology Engineering College].  By the way, in my experience, Sound Colleges are less than useless ... you can quote me on that.  Mainly because the tutors are all failed musicians/sound and lighting engineers.  If they knew their stuff they would be doing it?

roadie and roadies advice and tips  Don't expect to learn expert sound mixing and lighting design at college.

On the road, you will learn from the guy who learned before you and picked up all the bad method, bad information and bad techniques.

In college you will learn from the guy who almost had a top hundred hit in 1964.  Loves 'old school' rock 'n roll and probably has the pony tail to prove it.

Modern day analogue mixing desks are designed to be easy to use straight out of the box with no learning necessary.  But to get the best out of any piece of sound equipment it is necessary to understand the theoretical mechanisms behind how it works and MOST IMPORTANT be able to get it to work at 100% efficiency.

That is what the guy working the F.O.H  [Front of House] desk for Beyonce is doing ... 100% efficiency .. that is why he got the gig.

Digital desks are best learned from a three week course as prescribed by the manufacturers ... can you tell I don't like them? .... until they sort their act out ... in other words , they all have a common operating methodology.

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting   The first sound job?

The first job you may be flung into, at a moment's notice, will be operating the side of stage monitor mix.

I have rarely met one monitor jockey who knew what they were doing.

Side of stage monitor mixer. Daunting when you first stand behind it?  roadie advice and the real tips

A guy on the phone yesterday to me speaking of an upcoming festival my band are playing said "we have twelve monitor mixes available on stage" ... I said "yes, twelve chances of being wrong."

Again, to be operated in an optimum fashion [the best] it has to be set up theoretically correct ... and would you know how?  The band will expect you to know.

A means to an easy life
of the renowned sex,
drugs, Rock 'N Roll?

Yes, all this is achievable.  The groupies will be there in abundance even for the most unknown bands and singers.  It sort of makes up for the low money?????

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting I feel like an old man saying this

But ...... and I am not being sexist ... just 'real'.  Girl performers can have male groupies as well ... trust me  ...

Always remember that the silly groupie who has drunk too much or taken some crazy tablet or ingested something crazy, she bought just to be 'hip' ... remember she is someone's loved daughter ... and someday your own daughter could be in the same position.

Have respect ... I know, hard in those situations ... but try.  Same for the girl performers with male groupies, by the way.

Obey the golden rule "never without a condom" .... a moment's stupidity can result in a precious life being created ... a beautiful piece of Nature's creation .... a gorgeous 'to die for' baby ... but an instant orphan.

roadie advice, tips and know how  A beautiful creation ... think before acting stoooopid!

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting STD's

Of course, I do not need to mention the range of STD's [Sexually Transmitted Diseases] that abound today.  A fun topic of conversation but totally different when the doctor gives you a lifetime 'sentence' ... for a few minutes stupidity ?????? 

Chlamydia, Herpes are just not funny ... there are other infections even more dangerous and life threatening, not to mention fertility threatening ... and AIDS?  Well, just doesn't bear thinking about.

And girls ... this warning is the same for you.  And gay?  I just hope the Government warnings mean something.


All members of The Serious Writers Guild can call Dec direct on his private phone line to his desk to discuss any points. 

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting Clothing:

This is part of the 'roadie' scenario that the 'stupid' guys just cannot get into their heads.

Dress correctly, as in 'to dress correctly is to dress appropriately'.  That is the secret to success on the road.  And, strangely enough, follows you into success in mainstream Show Biz.

If you are part of the crew to put a sound system into Wimbledon for the Tennis Finals?  What do you wear?  Correct first time ... WHITE!

If you are in the crew to put the sound into the Hilton in Park Lane, London ... what do you wear?  All together now?  Black Tie.  Haven't got  a black tie outfit?  GET ONE....QUICK!  It is an investment .. just like an Athlete invests in his track outfit.

roadies advice

Works every time?

It does not matter how many times you do not wear it ... it is a life and death situation when you are required to wear it.  Otherwise, you will look like a duck at a swan convention - if you do not dress correctly.

The correct sound/lighting crew dress
for any situation
 is all black with no bare flesh showing

Dress incorrectly and you will eat with the slummy crew on the biggest cruise ships ... dress correctly and you will eat in the 6 star restaurant ... choice is yours?  I know my choice.  Champagne is better than lager any day of the week.  I always pack a great black tie outfit ... see the advice in "How to Make a $Million From Your music"

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting Know the meaning of the word 'Certainly'.

I need to say it again .... The most important attribute of a great Roadie is to know the word 'Certainly'.

As a mainstream artist, the word we love most, after any request, is the word 'Certainly' ... no matter what the request is.  I repeat that ... "no matter what the request is".

The only answer a major artist wants to hear is that magic "certainly" .....

No excuses, no muttering, no explaining ... just 'certainly' .. knowing the job gets done.  The thank-you's get given after the event in our business.

Free|tips writing acting|music|producing|songwriting When is the problem solved?

The answer to that, from an artist's point of view, is when the problem is solved.

I can speak from experience - if my guitar equipment is not behaving correctly and I have a secret signal to the road crew that all is not well... when am I happy?

When the problem is solved.

I do not want to see crew lolling around and hear a feeble excuse after the show ... I WANT THE PROBLEM FIXED ... that is what they are paid for ... am I right?

So ...

Fix that fuse, replace that lead ... replace that microphone battery ... know the trip switch lay-out.  Get the problem solved ... and work your socks off, with no excuse, until the problem is solved ... right up to the end of the show.  That is your job.

And particularly when you are elevated to sound crew level ... be aware of every signal from stage .. have a series of secret signals from the artists ... and obey them instantly ... have a system of flashing your MAGLITE [industry standard crew light]  to say YES or NO.

roadie advice and how to make money  Maglite ... the Industry Standard hand held light - get one!  Or two!

The artist will be happy, the show will go huge ... the audience will be ecstatic and the appreciation will be reflected in your pay packet.

A means to get on the ladder


Now you are talking!

One of the most important factors involved in success in the music industry is the Bryan Adams factor ...

He is happy to set up his complete concert rig solo ... on his own ... no one involved.

He doesn't ... but he could .....

Could you?

I could ... but that is a different story.   I don't ... My logic is that I employ guys to do it ... but I know more than them and I can check that everything ... and I do mean everything, is right  for the show ....

My logic is that if anything goes wrong, just like a Member of Parliament, I take the blame... not the road crew ... because I should have checked everything.   Even at Wembley I will find a way of checking everything.

A lot of guys have started as minor members of bands ... even road crew.  Phil Collins was a replacement drummer with Genesis.  What a career he had?

Most of my pals in the game know the whole deal inside out .  They don't have to do it, but when push comes to shove they could ... they could.. they could!

roadies and roadie advice    Dec ... with love


The idea for this article was from songwriting and music making members of The Serious Writers Guild.  It gives an idea of the benefits of belonging to the Guild.  You can join simply by purchasing the ten month programme 'How to Make A $Million From Your Music' at www.makehits.co.uk/swgappsecure.htm


This Article was written by Dec Cluskey

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