Welcome to another week of WIMI! We're so excited to introduce you to Amanda Barker who travels the world with some amazing artists in the industry as their tour manager. Sometimes you just know you want to be part of the music industry, and Barker definitely did! You can read all about her work and life below.
Introduce yourself to us! What do you do in the industry? Where are you from? I’m currently a Tour Manager for Becky Hill and living just outside of Manchester, UK although I am from the North East originally.
How did you get your start in the industry, and how long have you been in the industry? I used to live in Mallorca and one day my friend told me about this job advertised online at this new trendy hotel in town, Mallorca Rocks. The job was for a Chief Artist Liaison. I applied and luckily got the job, which opened so many doors as I was meeting new artists and Tour Managers on a weekly basis. I basically had to meet artists at the airport and look after them until they left the island. It was from this that I got one of my first jobs, with Ellie Goulding.
Working in the industry with touring artists, I’m sure you’re constantly listening to music. Who are you listening to a lot right now? I’m a 90s R&B girl through and through and a lot of the music I listen to is from that era.
When did you know being in the business is what you wanted to do? Was there a specific moment where you were like “oh god, this is what I want to do for the rest of my life”? Before I found the industry, I was a bit lost, job hopping and not really knowing what I wanted to do. I can’t remember which artist it was, but at Mallorca Rocks there were definitely those goosebump moments standing at the side of stage watching the crowd go wild and thinking “yeah, this is it”. I didn’t know at the time how far it would take me, but I knew I wasn’t going to get those feelings from a 9-5 job.
Is there anything you struggled with (or even still do struggle with) being in the industry? I do miss home, my fiancé, my dog. Travelling and seeing new places is great, but it’s more tiring than people think. Hotel beds are great and all, but there’s nothing better than coming home after three months away and getting in your own bed.
What is the best part of your job? Why? I think it’s probably seeing the world and being paid in the process. I love the freedom that comes with being able to turn up to a hotel, drop your bag and go out exploring a new city for the whole day.
Is there someone who you consider as your mentor in the industry? I’ve had many and I’m still learning every day. There are definitely those Production Managers and Tour Managers you work with where you pick up little nuggets and then there are the ones where you think “yeah that’s how not to do it”. If I’m ever stuck I know there are plenty of people who’d be happy to help and point me in the right direction.
What advice do you have for women who want to get their start in the music industry, especially with touring artists? Just persevere and be prepared to start at the bottom. I meet a lot of people coming out of school who want to be Tour Managers, and I always recommend they go get a job as a stage hand first. Seeing every aspect of ‘tour life’ will stand you in good stead. Be prepared to work hard, and don’t be a dick. Can I say that? Lol.
Have you ever been turned down or not taken seriously because you were a female in the industry? What did you do when put into that position? Not so much turned down but unfortunately there are still lots of times when I am overlooked. Even just this weekend, I walked in to a venue with our driver behind me and the Sound Engineer went straight over to introduce himself to HIM and completely ignored me even after being told I was the TM. There’s not a lot I can do about it other than keep being the best I can be at my job and championing other women in the industry. Soon enough perceptions will change.
What are some of your other hobbies? What do you do in your free time (which we know can be very hard to find)? There’s a local crossfit gym I go to when I’m home and I really get in to it when I have a chunk of time off. Other than that, just eating out, going to the cinema and chilling at home with my family.
Who is your all-time favorite artist? This is the toughest question. I don’t even think I can answer it, lol.
When did you go on your first tour? What was the experience like with it being your first time on the road? It was exciting. Although looking back I really didn’t have a clue what I was doing. My first touring job was in Wardrobe, and I’m so thankful to all of the lovely local wardrobe assistants around the country who took me under their wing and showed me the ropes. Don’t even think I knew how to iron and I was working on a show with 5 performers and 8 quick changes! It was intense.
You’ve toured with some big artists (Jason Derulo, Harry Styles, Jess Glynne), what did you learn working with such high-profile artists? Never assume! Never assume you know what an artist wants, everyone is sooo different. Be on your toes and ready to adapt quickly.
What is something you can't live without? My noise cancelling headphones for those journeys.
What do you make sure to bring on tour? About 10 pairs of trainers. If you know, you know.
What is the first thing you do when you get off of a tour? (besides sleep, lol). Play with my dog then go and get my hair and nails done.
Best tour memory? My best tour memory, wow tough one. Probably when I was on tour with Bastille in 2017 and we had a day off in Orlando. The TM organized for us to have a VIP tour of the NASA Space Kennedy Center. Afterwards we got VIP access to Universal Studios and a chaperone who pushed us to the front of every queue for the rides. Pretty epic as far as days off go.
Go-to Karaoke song? Candi Staton – Young Hearts Run Free
Tea or Coffee? Tea every day. I actually don’t drink coffee! Can’t stand the taste and it gives me anxiety.
First concert you went to? Boyzone circa 1993.
What’s something that you always have on you? My phone, and anti-bac gel.
Who is your dream artist or band to work with? I’d love to work with Nile Rogers and Chic I had the pleasure of working with them back in my Ibiza Rocks days.
What do you hope to see done in the industry within the next few years? As cliché as it sounds, I would love to see more women in the industry. Becky Hill is a true advocate for women in the industry and a lot of our team are female, which is amazing. Such a good vibe.
Lastly, what saying do you live by? Nothing changes if nothing changes.
Thank you so much, Amanda, for taking the time to talk to us about your life in the music industry! If you want to learn more about what she does on a daily basis, you can follow her Instagram HERE.