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Portfolio Careers Presentation

James gave a presentation on portfolio careers this morning, 5 February, to Newhaven Chamber of Commerce, and we thought you all might like to see a little of what they get up to at the morning breakfasts.

Many of you now know me as a Software Developer but most of my working life has been in a different career.

I have had the pleasure to work with some of the countries most outstanding comedians as a Tour Manager… some YouTube stars, and have toured the world with some pretty iconic bands… but my career isn’t about who I have worked for.

The people I work with have two things in common – 

  • They are all at the top of their game either through hard work and a lucky break or through hard work and more hard work and then a lucky break
  • They are all people. Just people like you and me.

Let’s start with comedians.

Comedians tour all the time, mostly on their own, and they start small doing the club gigs and open mic night. When they get enough success, they can invest in a promoter who will take a nice cut of their ticket sales but will send them to much bigger venues.

Promoters don’t like comedians touring on their own, as the logistics of getting from A to B and making sure the show looks and sounds great are not where their skills lie. So, people like me get employed to be a Tour Manager, deal with the logistics and Chauffeur to the comedian. 

Once we arrive at the town for that night, I go and set up the show. Sometimes there is a bit of staging…I always have to check the sound is right for spoken voice, and programme the lighting. Sometimes the stage set is a bit bigger and I have to unload a van full of gear and set it up.

An hour or so before the show I go and pick up the comedian, get him or her to do a soundcheck, then make a cup of tea, or snacks or wine, and at the right time, open the show. During the show, there will probably be some video or sound cues to run.

At the end of the show, all the gear goes back in the car or van, and you then take the comedian through the crowds for autographs, and back to the hotel.

The next day, we do it all again.

Touring with bands you just multiply that by 10, 20, 30 etc depending on the size of the tour.  Instead of 1 person doing the staging, there might be 20; 3 or 4 Sound Engineers;   Lighting, Video, Catering, tour buses, drivers. Everyone gets to specialise in their area.     

Travelling sounds very glamorous but it’s quite often very long hours, sleeping on a bus and then all day spent in a windowless venue setting up. It’s not often you get time to see any of the amazing places you travel to. 

Being successful at it though is about the same thing we all do to be successful in all our businesses – putting in the long hours, and not stopping until the job is done well enough for you to be proud of your gig.

Twenty years on and the software we used to help pull together the tour dates, day sheets, and travel arrangements and the fledgling skills I developed using FileMaker back then, have now become my new business. 

I have created custom databases to make my life easier and now I am using it to hopefully make your working lives easier too. 

Portfolio careers – don’t you just love life?