Today’s chat is with none the other, Corey Radcliffe! Tour manager and merch manager at Rock Solid Touring, Corey brings with him a wealth of experience and expertise in the music industry, having worked with some of the biggest names in the business, including Imagine Dragons, We Three, and Bloodywood.
Corey has been instrumental in creating and executing successful merchandising strategies and tours for these artists, and we are excited to have him here today to share his insights and perspectives on the industry. So, without further ado, let's get stuck into it!
To kick things off, can you share with our readers what made you decide to pursue a career in the touring industry?
Yeah, I mean I can think of many reasons but ultimately think it all boiled down to hating the tedious routine and monotony of a 9-5 job. Music was always such a big passion of mine and I’d try to go to as many gigs as I could when I was younger, each with such a unique experience and feeling attached that I just wished I could’ve replicated in my everyday life. So when I found out that touring with a band could be a “real” job I jumped at the opportunity and worked from the ground up to enable me to do so. Wouldn’t change it for the world.
What does a ‘day in the life’ of a roadie look like?
Going back to the previous answer I gave, luckily I don’t think there's such a thing as “a day in the life” when it comes to touring. Every day is so different, venues are unique and whatever is thrown at you that particular day is also different from the previous day.
But to give you an idea of how one of those days might look; you arrive (likely being dumped out of a bus having not showered for 10+ hours!), load in, crack straight on with setting up and you don’t stop til it’s time for bed again! It’s not for everyone but I love it and again wouldn’t have it any other way.
Can you describe your experience managing merchandise for touring artists?
I’ve worked with many bands over the last 6 years and they’ve all been different. I’ve done small club rooms of 250 people right up to stadiums of 50,000+. But the one thing they all have in common is the “family” feeling in your crew or team. I’ve worked with teams of 15-20 concessions I’ve never met before and I’ve toured with a merch team together on a bus but regardless of this everyone is in it together to get the job done, have passion for what they’re selling and who they’re selling to and that’s just a wonderful experience to be part of.
What is one of the most valuable lessons you’ve learned whilst working in the industry over the years?
This is a really good question… I’d say I’ve learned that having your own personal time/downtime is super important for your mental health. Taking some time away from the fast pace or from advancing on your laptop to do something for yourself is really crucial. It's so easy to get swept up in having so much fun and seeing amazing places whilst touring that forgetting to actually take time for yourself is quite common. Oh and also, you can't please everyone…so stop trying. Haha.
Can you tell us about a particularly challenging situation you have faced while running merch for a tour and how you handled it?
Theres probably way too many to list here, it’s a challenging job! But I’d have to say there was a time on the Imagine Dragons tour when there was just one merch booth for the whole arena. (30k people!) The queues were so extensive that it was becoming pretty dangerous for people to get crushed. I couldn’t find any crowd control managers and so stepped in to try to organize people as best I could.
A few people listened and followed the person in front of them but I had to radio the entire production team to eventually finally find the right people to sort the problem out. Amazing what someone in a high viz can do over someone who isn’t in one! Haha.
How do you handle and manage merchandise for VIP and meet and greet packages during a tour?
Ah, I think VIP is my favourite job ever. I love the excitement of putting together packages for M&G sessions and seeing the look on fans’ faces when they get their gifts. It’s usually handled internally when I’ve done it in the past. I’ll just get a list of VIP ticket holders sent over and count how many there are per show and set up the packages accordingly. Sometimes it’s a photo session, sometimes an acoustic set, it really does vary but it’s a fantastic experience to be in charge of!
Thanks for having me guys, it's an honour!