A roadie helps musicians while they are on tour by setting up and dismantling equipment, loading the van and perhaps driving it from gig to gig. Other names for a roadie include back stage crew or road crew.
You could be:
loading and unloading vans, trailers and buses with instruments and equipment
travelling with, and perhaps driving, the van with the musicians and equipment
helping check and tune instruments and maintain the equipment
rigging up wires, lighting and sound equipment, perhaps by operating cherry-pickers (hydraulic lifting machines)
controlling sound and lighting and setting up special effects such as pyrotechnics (fireworks)
ensuring the safety and security of all equipment and the performers
protecting the musicians from unwanted attention from fans and the press
making travel arrangements, organising catering and ensuring performers have everything they need
taking down the set after a show and transporting it to the next place or storing it securely.
The figures below are only a guide. Actual pay rates vary, depending on:
whether you are working for a band, an agency or a venue
how successful your band is
what specialist skills you have.
An unskilled roadie might start off on or around £8.00 an hour, rising with experience to around £15 an hour. A roadie with specialist technical skills in lighting and audio might earn up to around £30 an hour. However some jobs are on a 'low pay/no pay' basis, with all expenses and any profits shared.
You work long, irregular hours, including evenings and weekends.
You travel, perhaps abroad.
You spend periods away from home, possibly sleeping and eating on the tour bus, or in basic accommodation.
There is a lot of heavy lifting.
You might work at heights.
You would work indoors and outdoors, often in hot and noisy conditions or bad weather.
You work freelance, with little job security, often on short term contracts.
A qualification in music technology, audio visual technology, music and audio technology or sound production or engineering could be useful. Courses are available in colleges throughout Scotland from NC and NQ level (SCQF Levels 4-6) to HNC (SCQF Level 7) and HND (SCQF Level 8).
Entry to the industry depends on making contacts and demonstrating a genuine interest in live music.
You might have to start off helping as an unpaid volunteer.
You usually need a driving licence and perhaps a Passenger Carrying Vehicle (PCV) or Large Goods Vehicle (LGV) licence.
Health and safety and first aid certificates are useful.
You need to be over 18 if touring.
Jobs are with individual bands, or with agencies or venues. Look for vacancies in music magazines, music shops or on the internet.
business skills, if dealing with tour or venue organisation
a sense of humour.
an ability to work at heights
good physical fitness
the ability to work under pressure
the ability to read stage and technical plans
a can do attitude.
It is useful and sometimes necessary to get training in specialist skills such as sound production, audio console work, rigging or pyrotechnics (fireworks). You can get details of courses from the Association of British Theatre Technicians (ABTT) website.
If you do a course such as an HNC or HND in music business you could move into band management, promotions management or production management.