Dan Woolfie, tour manager for chart-toppers Blossom, is speaking on ‘The Business of Music’ panel at The Lowry in Salford on Monday (February 5). Hosted by NME #Lifehacks and University of Salford, the panel has been set up to help young people learn about jobs in the music industry that they might not know very much about.
Ahead of the event, Dan chats to us about his music career journey so far, and how he landed his dream job with Blossoms.
So, how did you get into tour management?
“Accidentally, to be honest. I was playing in bands for years and also doing a bit of sound engineering on tour with Man Made and at my local venue, Blue Cat Cafe, which is how and where I met Blossoms in 2014. I then started working with Blossoms as their Guitar & Drum tech before they had a tour manager. It soon got to the point where they needed a tour manager so I asked the band if they’d mind if I gave it a go, which they were cool with. So, then I spoke to their managers, who said yes, on the condition that if it got too big for me to handle, they might have to get someone else in who had more experience. That was totally understandable. It was a steep learning curve in places because of the trajectory that Blossoms grew with, but luckily there were a lot of people around who could help and advise along the way if I was stuck on anything. Our amazing crew, management and our ace booking agent, Lola, gave me a lot of advice, confidence and reassurance early on which really helped.”
What’s the hardest part of the job?
“Sorting out the guest list for a hometown show! It’s the worst! No, but seriously, I find the hardest part is actually coming home and adjusting back to real life. Of course I’m happy to be back home, but coming off tour is pretty weird and hard to explain. Touring is a really intense job and obviously you’re always on the move, constantly busy, surrounded by loads of people all the time. Then you come home and you’re sat there alone in your own head, with nothing to do and nobody to talk because all your mates and family are at work. It just takes a bit of time for your head to get around that. There aren’t many bad parts to the job though, to be honest. I’m so glad I’ve had the opportunity to make it a career as I can’t imagine working a 9-5.”
Do you always become friends with the bands, or do you have to kind of keep up boundaries?
“I do become friends with them, yeah. I’ve usually ended up being friends with the band before working with them actually. The touring world is really small, believe it or not. You’d be amazed how often you cross paths with people you know in the middle of Tokyo or a festival field somewhere. And you never know who you’ll end up working with in the future. The way the band and crew works with Blossoms is amazing – we all get on so well, so it makes touring that much easier. We spend so much time together that it would be weird if we weren’t all mates, although I have seen that vibe with other bands, which just seems like an awkward and toxic environment to me. What’s the point in being thousands of miles away from home, travelling round in a bus for two years with someone you can’t stand? Nah! There are of course boundaries between the band and crew, but it’s pretty easy to know where these boundaries are with a bit of common sense.”
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What advice would you give to a young person who’s interested in becoming a tour manager?
“I guess I’ve only ever known one way in, so my advice would be to just try to get on board with a local band who you really like and think could do with your help. Be prepared to do jobs that you didn’t think you would need to be doing – such as loading the gear into the venue, and setting up drum kits and guitars. Just give it a go and don’t be scared to ask for advice if you get stuck with anything. Another good way in is to offer up your services as a merch-seller on tour. Then once you’re on a tour doing that, if you get any free time during the day, you could maybe offer to give the tour manager some help.”
What made you want to join this Lifehacks panel, and which music industry issues are you looking forward to discussing on the day?
“I just think it sounds like an amazing event to be a part of. I’m looking forward to speaking about absolutely anything the attendees would like to know about in the industry, to be honest. And I hope I can inspire a few attendees who’re interested in working on this side of the industry. I’m also looking forward to learning a few things from the rest of the panel at the same time!”
‘The Business of Music’ panel takes place Monday, February 5 in The Compass Room at The Lowry in Salford. Check back on NME.com afterwards for edited content from the event.
#LifeHacks is on tour with University of Salford. After bringing The Business of Music event to The Lowry in Salford, we’ll be hosting further events in different cities around the UK, all aimed at helping young people to pursue careers in the creative industries. For further information about NME #Lifehacks in partnership with University of Salford, visit NME.com/Lifehacks.