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Crew Feature – Ayla Zelles

Name:  Ayla Zelles

When you started touring: Almost 10 years ago! June 2008

Specialty/Position: Tour Manager, Yoga Teacher & Sober Living Coach

Music genre you work with the most: I have worked in all genres over the years.

Prefer bus or van tour?

Bus, You can sleep while someone takes you to the next venue, You can go to the bathroom in the middle of the night, you don’t have to check in and out of hotels every night. This is the first time in 9 years since I’ve been in a van and let me tell you I hands down love love love being on a bus over a van any day of the week!

YOUR favorite band/artist:

My favorite band to tour with has been Blink-182 hands down. (I only run the meet and greets and I enjoy it just fine)

As far as listening it really depends on the mood I am in. I love old school hardcore, some metal, classics like Bowie and Tom Petty, I also like indie.

Biggest struggle on tour:

I think for me there has been a few hurdles. 1. trying to be in a relationship on the road has NEVER worked for me. 2. Being respected as a woman. I have had to endure sexual harassment & people over stepping and undermining me as well as a long list of other issues.

How do you keep sane while on the road?

Yoga, meditation and AA meetings when I can get to them. If I can’t I call a friend in the rooms.

Any words of advice to people looking to start out in the touring industry?

This may sound extremely negative but no body talks about this so I am going to.

I very clearly remember telling people I wanted to do this and their response was “No! You don’t!” What I saw is how miserable they were and that when you tour very rarely do you have a normal skillset to qualify you for a job outside of touring. So people end up stuck in a cycle. Touring can be a very toxic and negative place. I think the awareness of that going into it will allow the reality that touring is not always a 24/7 party and its hard work to set in. Be prepared to work really hard for very little pay for some time. Be prepared to make sacrifices. You sacrifice weddings, births of children, graduations, deaths, funerals as well as a bunch of other milestones. The reality is you don’t really know what you sign up for until your in the thick of it and realize “oh shit this is real.”

I also believe there is not a lot of “support” for people out on the road. Except for Dave Sherman who is a therapist for people in recovery on the road. There is also a great company called Musicares that provides a lot of wonderful services but you have to fulfill certain things in an application process to qualify you for their help! Both have played a MAJOR role in my life. I personally am also inspired to create a tour support program of my services that are like nothing else out there.

I will also be writing a proper blog about what its been like for me to tour as a woman in this industry if you want more insight!


You can check out Ayla’s Blog about being a woman and being sober in the music industry at: