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Chicago's Eventric helps some of the world's biggest musicians tour

Kanye. Beyonce. Bruno Mars. Tour managers for those stars and other artists increasingly rely on Chicago-based Eventric to help them get from city to city.

AC/DC, Anthrax, the Beach Boys, Jay-Z, Keith Urban, Rihanna and Trombone Shorty are among the groups Eventric has kept humming with its Master Tour product, the company says.

Tour managers can license the software to help keep track of accounting, itineraries, merchandise sales, venues, set lists, and musicians performing at particular engagements.

And everyone on the tours has access to an app that provides all the particulars. Those can include capacity and required ages for access at performance venues and equipment loading instructions, as well as directions from hotels to performance venues, notes about lunch stipends and location information for crew members. Members also can contact and have access to hotel room numbers through the app.

In the past, the industry sometimes relied on spreadsheets and physical books of information that would be distributed to folks on tour and — because of hotel, venue or schedule changes — often be outdated almost as soon as the tour began.

The managers would have communicated changes to musicians and crew via emails and text messages, said co-founder Paul Bradley. Now, any changes made are automatically update in the Master Tour app.

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"Master Tour standardizes and keeps everybody on the same page," Bradley said.

Tour manager Jim Runge said he uses the software for all his jobs, including working with the Black Keys, Imagine Dragons and Lucinda Williams.

"It's my No. 1 tool in putting together a tour — from itineraries to communications for my crews and band members to accounting stuff," he said. "When you start a tour these days, it's a rarity you hear from someone who doesn't use it."

Eventric, based at 1644 N. Honore St. in Chicago's Bucktown neighborhood, was started as Production Consultants Guild in 2000 by Bradley, then a drummer and tour manager for a band called the Drovers, and co-founder Ian Kuhn, a sound engineer who toured with the Smashing Pumpkins and then with Dave Matthews Band. They developed the system to manage the tours they were on.

Kuhn remains a shareholder but isn't been part of the day-to-day operations, Bradley said.

Master Tour was constantly being updated and improved around what Dave Matthews Band's tours required. When other groups started requesting to license the service, Bradley said he saw the opportunity for a business.

About 100,000 musicians and crew members are using Master Tour today, Bradley said. It's used by smaller bands who might not have the resources of Rihanna, but it's also expanded to circuses, motocross tours, sports teams, political campaigns and other groups that hit the road for events, he said.

"Football teams move around like a rock band. Different cities. Different hotels," he said.

A new addition to Master Tour: A Yelp-like system to review points of interests and tag their favorite places in a city.

"If I'm touring and in a new city and need a place that sells guitars or a really good hotel that caters to bands, I can check it here," Bradley said.

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Users, he said, might want to find nearby places to complete other tasks during days off while on the road.

Another program, Live Access, was developed in 2008 to manage VIP ticket distribution for in-demand events. The system lets tour managers review use of comped tickets, and better plan because those tickets could have been sold, Bradley said.

Tour managers pay $49.99 a month for Master Tour, which can be used for multiple artists and tours. A free version of the app lets musicians, roadies and others see information like itineraries and setlists, as well as submit guest list requests.

Eventric has raised about $2 million in funding between the founders' own money and investors, and annual revenue is in the seven figures, he said.

Eventric has 10 employees in Chicago, as well as two employees at an office in Los Angeles. The company plans to put another two employees in Nashville this month, at a new office in that city's branch of the Fort Knox Studios music industry space.

Venues say they find Master Tour helpful for their operations, offering a way to provide tour workers information on any peculiar restrictions, layout and equipment loading guides, all in one spot.

"It's a really valuable repository of information," said Jeff Hatfield, technical services manager for Nashville, Tenn., country music meccas Grand Ole Opry and the 125-year-old Ryman Auditorium. "One of the challenges with the Ryman is its age and interior design. It's important to communicate upfront the nature of the venue, including specifications and venue policies."

The Ryman, in particular, has unique equipment-loading instructions, he said.

"It's important to have that information upfront," Hatfield said. "It's important to map out all the pathways upfront so a person understands what they're getting into, especially if they've never been there."

Cheryl V. Jackson is a freelance writer.
Twitter @cherylvjackson