It’s a small world. The touring world is an even smaller one. After a few years of being in the business you should have already built up a network of people you know in each field. An important component of a long career on the road is having this stable of people you can reach out to when a job needs to be filled quickly. Crew members quit, get arrested, get sick, get fired and even die on the road and each of those jobs are essential in keeping the show on the road. On more than one occasion I have had to fly someone across country with less than 24 hours notice to help me out. You can also use these connections to get tickets for a show you may want to see or to have them take care of friends that are going to a show. That aspect is not one you want to abuse. You want those people taking your calls and not avoiding you because they see you as the one asking for stuff all the time.
You probably have heard of Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon, in this business you should be able to reach someone in the band or on the crew for any show on the road in 3 calls. A recent claim I heard is how could 2 people know someone involved with the same minor band? This is the kind of talk that can only come from someone so outside the world of touring or entertainment that they can’t fathom how it works. Here is the work involved in reaching someone involved with those Safety Dance guys.
I had a friend who worked with a woman named Jessica on an AMC TV show. They became good friends. Jessica is married to John. John is the current manager of… you got it. One call and maybe a second if I wanted to pursue it. I did not since this was such a minor issue but it should illustrate how very small the entertainment world is. The majority of connections are usually just as simple but there is always the one that stands out. Mine was trying to track down a replacement singer for an 80’s band in the middle of a tour that was doing surprisingly good business.
The current singer was told to get off the road and seek attention immediately. This had become a crisis situations and there was just no way for him to continue touring and living. He wasn’t willing to choose his health so the band and management did it for him. They had 4 days off and didn’t want to cancel any dates. They had a singer in mind but couldn’t seem to connect the dots back to him. When they asked me if I could find him I told them I would make a few calls. The problem with the singer in question was that he had a horrible reputation and most people I talked to didn’t want to go out of their way to help him out.
5 calls in and finally I made the connection. A guitar tech that I worked with 3 years prior was in a weekend cover band with him and would have him call me. 10 minutes later I was talking to the mystery singer and filling him in on the details. Once he told me he would be interested I got his number and handed it over to the management. Less than 24 hours later he met us in a hotel lobby somewhere in New Jersey and we took him to a rehearsal space that was booked for them to run through the set with him a few times. They did it again the next day and then were ready for the tour to resume.
Here was singer who was doing the weekend cover band thing a few days earlier now playing for 1,500 fans a night and doing a decent job winning them over. We spent an additional 2 months on the road with him and didn’t run into any of the issues he was tagged with in his first go around in the business. He managed to get other work because of the exposure he got as a fill-in and even managed to get signed to do a solo CD for the Japanese market.