If you’ve ever been on tour, no matter the size, you know that the hardest part is everything but the few hours you play. It’s the arrangements: travel itineraries, tickets, merch stock, scheduling, interviews, lodging, guest passes, and so many more details. Emails and texts are ineffective when things get complicated.
I was involved with a tour that used an app called Master Tour from Eventric, and it was an amazing experience; I wouldn’t tour without it now. I mean if it’s good enough for Queen Bey and Maroon 5 (plus hundreds of others), it’ll work for your tour. It’s an app that brings all of those nasty details into one place, affordably, distributed to everyone, without any special software, instantly.
Here’s how it works. An administrator – usually the tour/band manager – inputs the tour information into the web portal. Then, every member of your tour – from the drummer to the dancers to guitar techs and promo team – uses the free mobile app, which has all the information and communication built in. You get the schedules, setlists, call time, hotels, interview times, all of it.
Look, I’m not going to tell you this is an easy app/software to use, it isn’t. But, then again, neither is touring. It’s not meant to simple, it’s meant to be powerful, and it is.
The app has come a long way from its humble beginnings, and is adding new features all the time.
So, I spoke to CEO and co-founder, Paul Bradley, to get the inside scoop. I love Paul. He loves the business and is constantly thinking about how to streamline life for musicians and touring crews. Our interview ran about two hours and could’ve gone longer. So, this is edited for brevity.
The story of Master Tour starts with Paul finishing college in Des Moines, joining an independent label, becoming a booker, then tour manager, then road drummer for The Drovers in the ’90s – all before texts, email, and social. He and his partner, Ian Kuhn (sound for Smashing Pumpkins), developed custom databases in Filemaker (remember that?) and adapted the software for what the road demanded: venue lists, hotels, interviews, etc., and Ian took it with him when he joined Dave Matthews Band on tour.
By association with DMB, Paul met many other bands, like Beastie Boys and Barenaked Ladies; those early adopter bands used it, and gave feedback for improvements. As time went on, Filemaker was crashing and shipping discs to hundreds of bands made no sense. By 2005-2006, technology had improved and it was time to develop proprietary software to bring efficiencies for tour management, stadium level to small clubs. After some early investment, it took about four years to develop, and that’s really where Master Tour began.
Performer Mag: What problems is Master Tour meant to solve?
Paul Bradley: Efficiency and communication. That’s the core of what we’ve always tried to do. Now, everything is on a mobile phone; day sheet, interview times, guest lists, etc. The problem is that info is often spread out everywhere. A manager may be sending PDFs over email, sharing spreadsheets, and using multiple calendar apps. So, for tour managers, Master Tour is a place for all of this information in one app, with shared technology.
PM: How many users do you have now?
PB: 100,000+ on the mobile side.
PM: Let’s get into Tags.
PB: It’s basically Yelp for touring people, by touring people. So, say you need to know the best coffeehouse in Seattle for post-gigs, or you found an awesome wine bar or museum for a day off in Chicago, or the perfect guitar tech in Biloxi. Open the Master Tour app and you can tag it, or you can see where other touring artists have tagged and commented. This may get more social as we go along, but it’s getting a lot of great reviews and being used a lot.
PM: Explain the two levels of Master Tour for our readers.
PB: Yes, we call it Professional and Mobile. Pro is the web portal accessed by the management team and they input the information on Master Tour desktop – that’s $49.99/mo. Mobile is the free app. So, the band, audio guys, techs etc. use that for free. It’s read-only mostly, but the team can do guest list requests, and also use Tags, if they’re anywhere in the world; they can privately or publicly tag a location – guitar shops, rental shops, videographers, coffee shops [and so forth].
PM: Any other new things we should know about?
PB: Yes, we continue to add more products and services for the touring universe; that is our focus. Live Access is a separate product that handles blocks of tickets and discounts and guest lists. But for Master Tour, we are adding on Master Venue, which is streamlining the venue side, from stage plots to dressing rooms, where the van or bus parking is, and much more. Also, Live Marketplace for connecting services.