Live Tech: Master Tour Adds Features, Overcomes The Recession
By: Ryan Borba
Master Tour, a leading tour management and logistics software, has gone into private beta for version 3.0, with updated features including auto-sync, visibility options and printable reports. This should come as great news for MT’s reported 150,000 users varying from Metallica to Zac Brown Band, Stormy Daniels, The Harlem Globetrotters and everything in between.
The app helps compile and organize logistical information like hotel and flight details as well as financial data and production specs, with venue contacts inputting details into the app so tour managers know exactly what they’re dealing with for load-in and show setup as well as tear-down and settlement. As the company grows, Master Tour is expanding to offer more to booking agencies, promoters and non-music tours such as the Red Bull Air Show.
Master Tour 3.0 features include advanced visibility options, where admins can determine who sees which details – lighting techs don’t need to know the talent’s publicity schedule, for instance. Autosync allowing for offline use, customizable and printable reports as well as at-a-glance accounting giving a glimpse of financials without bogging down users with too many details.
Paul Bradley, the CEO of Eventric, the Chicago-based company behind Master Tour, said the update is a long time in the making. The official launch of the company in 2008, mostly as a tool for tour managers, came at the worst time, making it “kind of like a startup that took 10 years to start up.”
“We had hundreds of investment meetings to get a dozen or so investments,” Bradley said, adding that 2008-09 was the “most perfectly horrible time” to try to raise money as the global recession hit.
“It was a pretty painful experience pitching to VCs and angel groups and independent investors, but we got through it. Raising money was like, ‘Hey we’re developing this for a bunch of bands and can’t explain how much they’ll pay for it or why they need it,” he added, laughing.
“Looking back, it’s better it took four years to raise $2 million,” Bradley said. “If we had gotten $2 million from day one, we probably would have really ramped up, like all startups do without knowing. Get 50 people and really nice desks and all this bullshit. We were barely able to stay in business, so it kind of kept our focus true.”
The company’s genesis is a humble one, as Bradley was a drummer (and default tour manager) for a band called the Drovers, and started monkeying around with software to organize some of his daily tasks.
Somewhere along the line, he hooked up with a few people who had been on tour with The Smashing Pumpkins who were also working on some software to help organize their road business.
One of those colleagues joined another major tour, getting an early version of Master Tour on the road in a big way. “In the late ‘90s he was hired by Dave Matthews Band, and became their monitor engineer. He brought the software we created collectively to [Red Light Management founder] Coran Capshaw and Dave, and they liked it and started using it more and more,” Bradley said. “So that was how the first version of Master Tour happened.”
From there, they started working with Neil Young, Foo Fighters, Beastie Boys and others. “I would give them the software, just like, ‘Hey use this. Tell me what you like or what you don’t.’ We kind of did that for seven years, just gave it to anybody who would take it,” Bradley said.
Going forward, Bradley says Master Tour can expand to more non-music tours, including corporate events, book tours, political campaigns, and the aforementioned Red Bull Air Show.
“When you think about that as an example, the Red Bull Air Show moves city to city, has tons of different crew, needs hotels, needs credential management, has logistical production challenges, travel – the only difference is at the end of the day it’s not a band on stage,” Bradley said.
He added that Eventric looks to expand to adjacent markets such as television production, collegiate events, record labels and, of course, continuing to branch out as more than a standalone tour manager product – although it still excels as that.
Another of Eventric’s products is called Live Access, a friends-and-family ticketing system that allows tours, promoters and venues to sell internal tickets.
“Let’s say Metallica is playing at the Rose Bowl,” Bradley said. “Most of the seats go on sale to the general public and fan clubs, but a band like Metallica needs to hold a certain allotment of tickets to take care of vendors, labels, sponsors, and friends and family. It’s a good way to hold an allotment of tickets and decide who exactly gets them.”
Live Access works with 30-50 tours at a time, according to Bradley, such as Zac Brown Band and Dead & Company. “It’s a much better experience for the ticketing administrator and the guest.”