The Bridge: Promoter ~ Artist ~ Venue ~ Vendors
The Production Managers are never in the office during peak concert season, they’re always on the road or at local venues. The Production Manager has gruelling hours for many days in a row. He/She has to be at the venue for Load-in and stay until Load-out. They have a small office backstage with uncomfortable chairs, often of the folding variety. A beat up desk with just a little more room than the phone, laptop and printer take up. They endure fluctuating temperatures and really lousy cell service in the arenas. They are often far away from anything convenient, i.e. something to eat before the caterers are set up, and have hours when nothing is going on, and they’re exhausted. I think that’s why cocaine was invented. It’s feast of famine, either crazy busy or a big lull.
The Artist’s Tour Managers have learned to make their offices more comfortable because they're not going home to sleep anytime soon. They travel with the comforts i.e, rugs, heaters or fans, incense, candles, some even have mini-fridges. Their comforts vary depending on the size of the show. But the Production Manager doesn’t travel with such gear, sure they’ve learned to bring some comforts, but only the ones they can carry or bring on a plane.
By the time the doors open the Production Manager has already put in more hours than anyone working at the office. The Production Manager doesn’t really get a break, the hours when nothing is happening are very boring. They will get as much work out of the way as they can, but they can’t go anywhere, it’s a long day, and when it’s your third long day in a row, it’s miserable.
Before showing up at the gig the Executives have a nice meal, maybe change, get refreshed, re-apply their make-up, have a drink or two, they're generally in a good mood, everybody who shows up for the show is in a good mood. The Production Manager has spent the whole day at the venue and now has to conjure up a happy face.
Sure, you say, but the Production Manager gets to meet the Artists, that’s a huge perk. I promise you, it’s really not, especially if the Production Manager is a fan of the Artist. Never meet your heroes, you will always be disappointed.
The Production Manager spends the whole day with Artists’ crew and is the physical bridge between the Artist, Promoter and the venue. The Production Manager has advanced the show with the Tour/Road Manager, so if this is the first date on the tour, they already have a sense of each other. For the bigger acts, the chances that he/she’s worked with some of the crew before are great, so there can be a lot of fun reunions at the venue. The Production Manager spends more time with venue staff than office colleagues.
If there are any snafus come show time, or last minute requests, no matter what department it is; Ticketing, Publicity, etc. the Production Manager has to deal with it because it’s after office hours.
The Production Manager hates when the Asshole Old Dogs show up, s/he thinks they act all manic, stressing out over numbers, when really they’re just trying to make sure people notice them and know they’re ‘important.’ God forbid a lowly guitar tech mistake them for a useful pest.
By show time, the Production Manager is the go-to person for anything and everything. This is a very busy time and backstage is full of people all of a sudden. There’s an opening act that has to get on and off stage, gear removed, squired to their Meet & Greet while the Headliner is getting ready to go on. The Executive wants to flex his muscle, so he’ll ask the Production Manager something obnoxious like, ‘can you get a runner to get a bottle of wine for my friends here?’ And the exhausted Production Manager can’t say no. And the Production Manager has very little left in him/her, so it’s extra hard for them to plaster a smile on their face when accommodating the Executive’s ignorant request.
The Production Managers will eventually become Old Dogs, some will be Assholes, some will be Mentors, but it’s the next logical career path. Personally, I liked being a Production Manager, but that's in retrospect. Opportunities for great relationships with people all over the planet are possible for the Production Manager, and usually that's a good thing!