Name: Cara McDaniel
Company/Organization: PAGE 6 MUSIC
Bands worked with: CHVRCHES, Gossip, Emeli Sande, The Temper Trap, Glasvegas, Razorlight, Imogen Heap, White Lies, Stereophonics
FEMMUSIC: How did you become a tour manager?
CM: My Dad was a musician and wanted me to do the same, but I had chronic stage fright and was much more at home lugging guitar cases around and helping with merch etc. So I started doing that for him at his shows.
When I was 19, I got a job in a student union which had me handing out flyers for the club nights happening there. I really wanted to be involved with the bands that were playing there, so I wheedled my way in to to helping the ents manager all the time – so much so that they offered me a job as ents assistant the next year. From there, I was helping out at shows that the 900 capacity venue held (first ever show was Tenacious D!) and then I would say to any of the support acts that if they needed someone to help them out doing merch / driving / assisting I would be happy to.
I got a job repping for a promoter in Scotland who basically had me driving all over the country in my ford feista and handling shows for him. He ran a festival and I started to handle artist liaison for that, where I met a TM who needed an assistant. We got along really well and he offered me the job the next day.
I never looked back. My first proper touring job was doing merch and TM assistant for Imogen Heap. I was so nervous I was sick on the first day! It is the career I always wanted, I sometimes have to remind myself how good things are now. In the early days of driving around and helping out bands – I didn’t even get paid. The first TM job I had was with a Glasgow band called Glasvegas. That was kind of a baptism of fire, because they weren’t the most chilled out of artists, but I see it as a good thing now as it taught me to be really tough with people and not let things get under my skin.
FEMMUSIC: What are the biggest challenges of being a tour manager?
CM: I would say now a days it’s that there are SO many shows that bands want and have to do, that you’re constantly having to work through the logistics of getting people across continents with a moments notice. Also you barely sleep on the road, because if the shit hits the fan in anyway (be that the bus breaking down or one of the band needing something in the middle of the night), you’re the call person.
FEMMUSIC: What challenges does being a woman tour manager present?
CM: I think there are still countries in which women don’t get as much respect. I did a security briefing in a particular country and none of the security would look me in the eye. It’s hard when someone walks past you and asks the production manager who in our case is a man, what they should do about a particular problem, and they have to point them back in your direction to discuss.
FEMMUSIC: As a woman in the music industry, have you been discriminated against?
CM: I think in the early days I felt like I was getting looked over for things because I was a woman, but that may also have been because my ambition was far ahead of my years of experience and also the age I looked (neither of which is a bad thing!). But I know that a lot of the time I still get paid less than what a guy who is my age would get if he was doing this job, because I have a lot of male friends in similar positions to me! That frustrates me, but we have to steadily work towards changing that, throwing toys out of the pram won’t help.
FEMMUSIC: What one thing would you like to change about the music industry itself?
CM: I think there are so many cliques in the music industry that maybe it’d be good to change that up a bit? But realistically, it’s a big beast that’s changing all the time, so I don’t think there’s much I would change!