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12.13 PulseBOOKS: Workman’s novel covers life on the road


By Tine Roycroft

It’s a dream we’ve all had in one form or another ~ life on the road as a member of a ragingly successful band.

Depending on where you are in life, you might have seen yourself as the sexy lead singer or the deep and brooding bassist or the alluring and charismatic drummer. Or, like author Mark Workman, you might have chased the fantasy of being a music tour manager.

BookOneforRoadWorkman has built a golden career as a tour manager, working with groups like Anthrax, Megadeath, Slayer, Queens of the Stone Age, Steeler and many others. Now, in his book, One for the Road: How to Be a Music Tour Manager, Workman is opening up his treasure chest of experience and hard-won wisdom and sharing the secrets of how to succeed in an incredibly difficult field.

The book is a wealth of straightforward, clean-cut information presented in the format of life lessons. Workman manages to focus on both the big picture and the minutia, but he mixes in some hardcore humor as he does so.

“In 1979,” Workman wrote near the start of his book, “I left the mountains of West Virginia on a Trailways bus with $150 to my name and went 2,400 miles to Los Angeles to find a way into the music business.

“I was only 19 years old. I had never traveled anywhere before, and I didn’t know a single soul in California.

“I found a job working at a porn distributor in Hollywood, eventually ended up running the place, got the bright idea to start bootlegging porn video tapes, got sued for a million dollars and came very close to ending up in a hole in the desert, got out of that by the skin of my teeth, met Ron Keel in Steeler, started a merch company for Steeler, then became their lighting designer, and a career was born.”

Beyond Workman’s incredible experiences, which he shares openly throughout the read, he comes across as a coach of sorts to the world of heavy metal tours, leaving no detail out and no circumstance unexplored. He instructs on how to manage and respect the expectations of a band; he discusses how to stay in contact with the band manager throughout the touring process through quality reports (not pestering him or her about pointless details), and he even talks about estimating a realistic touring budget while considering tax implications.

Even if you aren’t totally sold on the idea of becoming a music tour manager, much of Workman’s approach to business in general can be utilized in all walks of life. He’s a detail-oriented guy who has an intense respect for collaboration and good old-fashioned team effort ~ skills that can easily translate over into other careers.

“Someone once said,” Workman wrote, “‘’You don’t get what you deserve; you get what you negotiate.’ This statement couldn’t be truer than in the music business. When you’re first starting your career, you may have to work for low money or just a small per diem or even for free, but it’s worth it to build a resume. This is how you build a career. Interns do it all the time in every kind of business. Everyone has to pay their dues ~ just like the band is doing ~ and you’re getting valuable on-the-job training. Just get that first notch on your resume at any cost or sacrifice.’”

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