Guest Post: Andy Grammer’s Open Letter To The Males Of The Touring World

Andy Grammer
Suzanne Cordeiro / AFP / Getty Images
– Andy Grammer
at KAABOO Texas in May

I am currently out on tour and just recently had an experience that seemed like it was worth sharing with other men in the industry. 

For context, me and my band have been a part of this crazy lifestyle since 2011. It has taken us all across the country many times in my Chevy Tahoe, and we’ve graduated to bigger tours with tour buses and trucks. We’ve been the opening act, the support and the headliner. We’ve been the lowest on the totem pole and we’ve been on the cover of Pollstar magazine.
With my wife being recently pregnant (with a little girl) and watching her go through a super tough pregnancy, it’s been fresh on my mind how wildly different life in general can be for women. So, for the first time in my eight years of touring, there was a sit-down with the women on tour (there are five) and they were asked a super simple question: Is there anything we can do to make this tour better for you? 
I feel like the rest of this story should be basic: “We exchanged some facts about what could be better for the ladies, made a list and headed to soundcheck.” 
Right? Instead, what happened was profound. These women, who are all veterans, shared way more than practical advice with me. There was that, too, like how we needed trash cans with lids on the bus to dispose of feminine products (never in a million years would I have thought of this), complaints like “this guy touches me unnecessarily when he talks to me,” requests for extra care about changing space on weird one-offs and festivals. 
All of which were important and promptly handled – but what shook me up was what came after. One by one, they each told me that in all their years of combined touring, no one had ever asked them this question.
“No one has ever asked you how to make a tour better for women?” I asked protectively, climbing slowly up on my high horse, visibly offended for them. “You all have a ton of touring experience between you and not one of you has ever been asked this basic question?” Meanwhile, I AM A MAN WHO RUNS A TOURING COMPANY AND HAS NEVER ASKED THIS QUESTION IN EIGHT YEARS OF TOURING! 
The reason this seems to be worth sharing is because I very much consider myself to be one of the good guys. If my tours were rated on how women-friendly they are, I would have thought they were doing great, and yet I’ve never asked the opinion of the women on tour. That’s objectively ridiculous and it got me thinking about where the disconnect is. Listen, if my tours are the minority and this dialogue is happening on most tours around the country, I will happily put my foot in my mouth and retreat back to my corner of the internet. In my experience women are constantly seen as the underdogs of this industry; they already feel extra pressure to not be difficult and to prove themselves over and above expectations. It seems like the least we can do is hear what is genuinely different for them and not make it any more difficult than it already is. 
To the good guys out there: The acting seems to be the easier part, once you hear what the women need you will want to jump and help them however you can. After the meeting, me and my tour manager jumped immediately to handle all the requests. It’s the asking and listening that for whatever reason doesn’t come naturally to us. It sparked a lot of one-on-one conversations with each of the other bandmates on the topic, and it will continue to be an ongoing part of my business to make this dialogue a priority. I’d be lying if I told you I had the answers on how to do this perfectly, but much like every other area of touring, the more you do it the better you get. 
I sincerely hope this doesn’t come off as self-congratulatory. I’m more hoping that openly sharing my ignorance will spark meaningful conversations. My mother raised me with this quote from Bahá’í writings: “The world of humanity is possessed of two wings: the male and the female. So long as these two wings are not equivalent in strength, the bird will not fly.” The whole touring industry might be able to fly better if we simply listen to the women we are touring with.