Name: Charity Lomax
Class: Recording Arts, 1994 (and Sixth Annual Hall of Fame Inductee)
Current Gig: Production Coordinator, Eagles World Tour
It takes a love for music, living out of a suitcase, and handling logistics like a pro to be a great tour manager. For more than a decade, Full Sail Recording Arts grad Charity Lomax has successfully managed and helped coordinate tours for several artists, including The Pussycat Dolls, Queen Latifah, Van Halen, and Aerosmith. She’s currently on the road with legendary rock band the Eagles, as the Production Coordinator on their 2014 Eagles World Tour.
Tour managers and production coordinators are an essential and important part of every tour. While responsibilities vary from tour to tour (Charity stresses that every single tour can be different), generally they are the people who look over the artists and the crew, book travel, and handle daily schedules. Every tour has a tour manager, but depending on the budget and size of the tour, there may also be a production coordinator too. More often than not, the production coordinator works alongside the tour manager to execute everything as it pertains to the actual production. Both jobs are a tremendous amount of work and responsibility – the difference being that a tour manager tends to wear many hats (depending on the size of the tour), while a production coordinator’s responsibilities are a bit more specific.
“The tour manager tends to follow the movements of the band and is the overall voice of the tour, while the production manager follows the movements of the crew and is in charge of getting the actual show up and running from city to city,” says Charity. “On smaller tours, there are a lot more gray lines when it comes to responsibilities for a tour manager. You’re just doing what needs to get done. You don’t have a staff to do it for you.”
Tour managing is not the easiest gig to get. Often when you’re starting out you’ll be on a smaller tour, and not making a ton of money, but it’s an experience that will open the door for bigger opportunities. Charity was working as a studio manager at West Hollywood’s renown Westlake Recording Studios when she was offered a job managing a tour for Cherie, a pop singer from France who was opening for former American Idol contestant Clay Aiken.
“I learned a lot on that tour, including a lot of things not to do,” says Charity. “One of the biggest things about being on the road is etiquette, especially if you’re the support. There are a lot of egos on the road. I learned to be courteous and try to stay out of the way.”
Cherie’s manager was also working with the Pussycat Dolls, and after that first tour he asked Charity to work for the group. She started out coordinating their video shoots and promo appearances, and then eventually went on the road with them. The Pussycat Dolls opened for Christina Aguilera, which is how Charity met Marc Robbins from Azoff/MSG Management. Irving Azoff was the manager for Aguilera and other big acts, including the Eagles and Van Halen – all artists Charity has ended up working with. Charity has gotten all of her jobs via word of mouth. It’s her work ethic, personality, and reputation that help her continue to land gig after gig.
“It all comes back to personality,” Charity says. “You have to be the type of person who can deal with many different personalities. When I started, trying to be a people pleaser was the most challenging part of the job. Once I realized I was never going to please everyone, my life on the road became that much easier. I try to do the best I can and take nothing personally.”
One advantage and disadvantage of the job is often interchangeable: You’re on the road a lot. The days are often very, very long, which means there’s usually not much time to get out and see the city you’re in. But the travel is Charity’s favorite part of the job, so even if it’s just for a couple of hours, she’ll try to explore wherever she is. If she gets homesick, she’ll Skype with her family and friends back in Nashville. Her key to surviving the tough hours: always staying busy.
“Once some of these guys [on tour] get to certain parts in the day they can relax or take a nap, but I have stuff going on all day,” says Charity. “Even if nothing is going on, I still need to be available if someone needs something. I’m not a napper; at least not on the road. It’s always better for me to just stay busy and that’s usually not hard.”
For students who want to get involved in the world of tour managing and production, Charity’s advice is to learn to roll with the punches that come with having a job that can be drastically different day to day.
“If you make a mistake, just admit it. If you don’t know something, ask,” Charity says. “If you know at the end of the day that you did everything that you were supposed to, that’s all you can do.”