Touring and Production Tips from Ken Dean

I attended this seminar about the challenges of touring and managing an artist, or groups of artists for events. I learned that if I want to tour I should have a compelling reason, do whatever I can to cut costs, such as staying at a KOA campground and create profit centers like getting our vehicle wrapped. I also learned that I should essentially expect any equipment to get trashed and create an LLC to protect myself legally.

 I thought the consultants might be boring rambling about the numbers (or the accounting side) but they went into the emotional side of their work, discussing heartbreak of drug abuse and lost talent. They confirmed what I wanted to hear about this business, that it takes every bit of your brains and emotions to be successful.

Ken Deans has always worked in music in some way. I was surprised to hear that he had dropped out of high school at Inglemoor and became a drummer. He studied music theory at Cornish college and eventually worked his way up to mega production companies to pull off huge 3 day festivals and tours. He now works as a consultant and gets to work on his own terms.  

I chose to highlight Ken because his story was truly touching to me but at the same time he gave us very realistic expectations. He told us that we actually couldn’t do what he did back then, because in today’s world an education and degree is incredibly important and is your true first step.
"Bringing years experience from the entertainment world Kens award winning talent has helped ABC Television Networks, AT(and)T, Alaska Airlines, FastChannel Network, Infiniti, Jones Radio Network, Level 3 networks, Lion Brand Yarn, Mazda, Neilson, Netflix, Nissan, The Penske Corp., Radio and Records, Smith-Kline Beecham, Taco Bell, VNU, President Clinton, Vice President Gore, and many others form and present their message internally and externally in innovative ways.

Ken brings with him a rich history of management. He was part of the management team that brought musical artists Men at Work, The Split Enz, and The Divynals to the forefront of the US and Canadian music scene, and later on part of the management group and as a promoter responsible for the explosion of the Seattle music scene including Pearl Jam, Nirvana, Alice in Chains, and Soundgarden. Ken was enlisted to help guide the live careers of Melissa Etheridge, Dave Koz, and others during the nineties. Currently Ken heads up Liaison Group, Inc., a business and marketing consulting group that bridges culture from entertainment to consumer goods, sponsorships and experiential outreach."
 -Taken from Mr. Deans' profile on

I was pleased with the refreshing statement that college is the right path. All the time I hear that a degree is not of value in the music business but Deans’ assertion of its importance rang true to me. I agree with his choice of career steps, and the “do as I say, not as I do” attitude he has taken towards education. What worked for him then won’t work now, and he wasn’t afraid to share that with us.

He said that today, companies want someone who is not in business to party and that you should believe in yourself and be confident to ask questions. Another important rule of thumb he shared was that you should dress for the job you want, not the job you have. I have heard this said by fellow students but have never heard it from an executive. I will try to keep this information in mind as I develop my image as a jazz vocalist.

Content by Laura Gabriele