In the world of media promotion, a disturbing trend has appeared--the "win a day as a roadie" promotion. Courtesy of your favorite radio station, people "out of the business" can now experience the glamour and excitement of the touring industry. Or do they?
Unfortunately, I don't have the first-hand experience of winning this promotion. I suspect, though, that the "roadie for a day" winners experience something a bit different than the grim reality of life on the road. I'm sure the "winners" meet and greet with the artist, and receive premium seats and a backstage pass after the show. All in all, a pretty tasty job, this "roadie gig."
I think the real picture would be much more enlightening for the fan. But possibly less glamorous.
The real "roadie for a day" package would start a bit earlier --at the venue at 8am, inhaling diesel fuel that is possibly carcinogenic. For the next few hours, the "winner" will participate in the load-in, assisted by a number of venue workers who may be either convicted criminals on parole or college students who may or may not be fully conscious. After several futile hours of attempting communication, "lunch" will be served. It will be a flat meat deli tray including tuna salad, which has been unrefrigerated for several weeks and is now the breeding ground for several species of insects.
After the gastric pains subside, more work will be vainly attempted, until dinner--which will be a repeat of lunch. For the show, our "winner" will be assigned various responsibilities, which will make the performance as enjoyable as evisceration with a butter knife. After the show, everything will come down at warp speed, since this activity is keeping the rest of the crew from sleeping. Our "winner" will go home when the last truck door is closed and he or she is treated for the various injuries incurred during the evening.
It doesn't sound quite so romantic, does it? Quite an interesting promotion, letting someone have a job for a day. And one has to wonder, what will be next--"Psychiatrist for a Day" promotions? Or possibly a "Police Officer in an Unknown City Riddled with Crime for a Day" promotion? Myself, I'm waiting for something a bit different--the "Sleep Research Test Subject for a Day" promotion. I admit, it's not as glamorous as being a roadie.
But then again, what is?
Detroit-based freelancer Sharon Stancavage drew on bitter experience for these observations. The image (with an added tweak) is from The 13th Floor, a Columbia Studios thriller opening this month. Look for more movies in our next issue as we hit the road for Hollywood.