• Sydney Oberholtzer

Episode 9 | Impact of COVID on Tour Management

EP 9 | Tour Management During Coronavirus from The Set Up Podcast | Behind the Scenes in Music


00:00:08 You're listening to The Set Up. A podcast that helps you navigate through new topics with interviews of the most creative minds in the music industry turning their experiences working behind the scenes into actionable advice you can use in your life no matter your background. If you're passionate in paving your own path and inspired to connect with like-minded professionals, hit the Subscribe button because we'll help you set up for Success at The Set Up podcast. I'm your host, Sydney Oberholtzer, and thank you for joining us another episode of The Set Up Podcast.


00:00:42 Sydney: Today's guest was featured on Forbes 30 under 30 for his work in entertainment Nick Kandelaki. He has managed Macy Gray and Nik West who is an emerging female musician. Happy that you're able to join us on this episode Nick. Thank you for being able to do our first video conference for this podcast. What are you doing now?


Nick: Adapting. Trying to understand what should I do in the future Because we don't know what's going to happen and trying to learn new skills for New Opportunities. So now I want to learn Spanish.


00:01:52 Sydney: How did the pandemic affect what you were working on? And is there anything that you're working on for the future right now?


Nick: Yes. So basically I booked concerts and also I organize Concerts so I'm wearing multiple hats. So all my concerts we organized now are all either postponed or Canceled. So now I have to talk with agents and managers of the artist to postpone concerts for the next year or cancel them. Then I have to return all the money to ticket holders. I have to negotiate this.


Sydney: That sounds like you are super busy man. I can't imagine because not only do you have to redo it but You have to work with all these people again. Wow, you have a lot on your hands and it's unfortunate because I'm also in the same boat.


00:03:52 Sydney: Hopefully everything will shape out. So it sounds like you are a jack of many trades in the music industry.


Nick: It is great to know people because it's really helps to get new projects and New Opportunities. And I think that the common things that all Industries are sharing everything is dependent on your network.


Sydney: What are you handling when you are on tour?


00:04:52 Nick: Hotel, flights, checking all the band members, make sure everybody's on time for sound check, for hotel check in. for the show and negotiate music promoter to collect the money.


Sydney: It all started with Macy Gray. So how did that happen?


Nick: In 2012, We were going to a Festival in Eastern Europe and I was there as an organizer of the festival so we became good friends and I was studying in London and she texted me to come to her show. So we hanged and when I moved to Los Angeles, she wanted me to work for her. I started as her day to day and then I became her tour manager.


00:05:52 Sydney: Is that normally how it works like you start as the day to day and then you can get promoted?


Nick: You need to build a relationship with an artist to be a tour manager or assistant because there's too much information. So I think that's a really good way to start as a day to day or assistant. I know for example, Sting's manager was working for Sting for 20 years and was his driver before that. So one day Sting came to him and said, why don't you become a manager.


00:06:52 Sydney: That's a wild ride for you to move to LA and work for Macy Gray. So what did you handle? And what were your main responsibilities?


Nick: I was shipping items then I started to book flights and hotels for the band. I was making sure that I remember the dates of the tour and I was talking with promoters to organize the dates for the shows. I had to communicate special requests with promoters such as five star hotel requirements for the artist.


Sydney: What were some of her requirements?


00:07:42 Nick: The artist requires, in addition, to the performance of the typical agreement. So maybe she has her own agent who books shows. The agent can provide that there are shows in July. We will have no more than ten or fifteen so she would not on tour everyday. She has to have one day break. So we have to communicate with the venue's and festivals.


Sydney: Do you plan by specific cities or by specific festivals/venues?


Nick: Usually by location but sometimes the money is so high so we can go by payment. Route to New York and other one in Chicago and then go back to Miami. So it always depends on offer.


Sydney: Was 30 shows for one tour the most she does?


Nick: I am very busy 24/7 on the phone calls emails every day. I'm going to have to prepare for the next show. Sometimes you don't even see to the city because it's the manager's job as soon as it lands on the ground.


00:09:41 Nick: My job is to go to The Venue and check it out to make sure that all the requirement technical specialist sound lighting instruments. Everything is to be ready. For example, in some European cities, that has no air condition. So my job is to make sure that there is air conditioning, Wi-Fi and hotels are clean and then I have to make sure that everything is ready because sometimes shows on the same day.


Sydney: Do you have a checklist?


00:10:41 Nick: Yes. And it doesn't stop after the show. My job is to make sure all interviews are done and then I email for the next day show promoters to make sure everything is ready.


Sydney: I really did not realize how much goes into the day to Day when you are on tour with an artist. Are you on contract?


Nick: That's why, for me, It's beneficial that I'm doing both. I'm booking shows and tour management. When I'm tour, I'm building relationships with promoters. So next I can offer them new artist to book a new show.


00:12:32 Sydney: How do you stay organized? And how do you maintain these contacts across the globe?


Nick: As soon as I get a new a new email address from the person, I have a database. I put all in an Excel file with the location of the festival and the name and if I have phone number. I have a schedule and calendar I keep to see where the Festivals are and when.


00:15:16 Sydney: Since then, you started to work with an upcoming artist named Nick West if I describe her I say she is the likes email mixture of Prince and like a funky unicorn. She rocks a purple Mohawk to give you a picture. She plays the bass and she wears all the colors of the rainbow and you guys just released a new album. There are so many great tracks. What was your part working on it?


Nick: So I was the Executive Producer and basically worked on the whole project. We were working for 3 years. For example, we would talk and brainstorm. Who do we want to collaborate with? So she wanted to collaborate with the bass Legend Larry Graham from Sly and Family Stone and then one day he wrote us that he wrote a song for Nik so we flew to Minneapolis. And they wrote the song Together, same thing happened with Cindy Blackman. She's a drummer for Carlos Santana and Lenny Kravitz. She's amazing, so my job was to organize collaboration and also to get publicity like articles or any kind of performance. Then we brainstorm the name together.


00:17:45 Sydney: What was your favorite part? Are you in the studio for long periods of time, give us a little peek into the process?


Nick: It depends. She told her musician to write them drums, Guitar at 11 p.m. She doesn't like to work at night. So we wanted to release this album last year, but we postponed it. So that's why we have more collaborations. Now, we decided to release the album because fans are waiting.


00:19:27 Sydney: I would have really loved to be a fly on the wall during the production of it.


Nick: One song was produced by Michael Walden and he was the producer for Whitney Houston and Mariah Carey. He called us and said come up with the top song titles that you think will be a hit. So we were on the traffic and we were looking at street names to write a song to.


00:20:36 Nick: She wanted to collaborate with Larry Graham because when she was working with prince, he was always comparing her with Larry. So I found who the agent for Larry and I was bugging him everyday. But the only other one I know one big Italian singer. She has an amazing voice like Barry White's type which would be good song for Italian Market.


Sydney: How did your relationship start with Nik?


00:21:36 Nick: One day, Lenny Kravitz' photographer had a big exhibition and also the same day, Macy had an album release. So I bribed Nik to come and after that we started to date so then I decided that it's better to tour with my (at the time) girlfriend.


Sydney: Sounds like a movie. How does your relationship work then? How often do you see her?


00:22:36 Nick: I understand what it takes to be a musician because I know she's working in the studio every day. She doesn't disturb me because I know that is very important because I'm working too.


00:23:15 Sydney: Are there any challenges with working with your wife?

00:23:19 Nick: I think it's not that easy for everyone. It became easier. At first, it was really hard to do because sometimes you have to argue especially when I was her tour manager. Imagine you are on tour for two months and any kind of argument will affect your work. So you have to balance and make sure that it doesn't affect the job because her performance if she's angry will show on stage. It became easier because we are soulmates so we know what to do.


00:23:48 Sydney: Is there anything In the works?


Nick: Now I'm rescheduling her tour for next summer. We still don't know, even promoters even big festivals don't know when it will come back. So now my job is to plan for the summer 2021.


Sydney: What's your secret sauce to success?


00:24:48 Nick: Be Persistent. The worst that can happen is for them to say no and then maybe they'll remember you for next time. With my wife, with Macy Gray, with my studies I was persistent.


Sydney: I think people have to be reminded of that and it is like putting yourself out there. So thank you and thank you so much for joining me today on The Set Up Podcast. It was a pleasure.


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