Planning a tour is more than just booking venues and dates. Keep reading to find out how to make your next tour the best one yet.
A guest post by Patrick McGuire from the Reverbnation blog.
Even in today’s digitally driven music industry, touring is still a powerful way to grow your audience and keep their attention. But done the wrong way, DIY tours can be a costly waste of time and can sometimes be disastrous enough to significantly damage your career. If you’re a small artist or an unestablished artist, DIY tours will almost certainly end up costing you money whether things go well or not. Bad tours can be devastating to morale, especially as part of a group. And in a time when musicians succeed by creating and sharing as much great music as they can, every day you spend on the road is a day you’ll spend away from your songwriting process at home. Touring can build your career by expanding your audience, but only if done right and at the right time. These four tips will help you get the most out of your tours if you’re a small band or an unestablished group:
Start with short regional tours and expand from there
Your band might be eager to share your music with the world through touring, but your resources probably don’t match your enthusiasm. Long DIY tours are hard to promote and even harder to execute, and one particularly bad tour can spell disaster for your band. Most bands will be much better off starting with short regional tours and growing slowly. These tours are much easier to promote and invest in, and they’re much more likely to get more listeners to discover your music. A long tour across the country can sound like an adventure, but unless there’s noticeable demand for your music in every city you book shows in, it’s likely to be a costly waste of time for your band. Start regionally and build from there, and don’t book shows in faraway places where it will be hard to come back.
Create a realistic plan and budget for the tour
The tour is supposed to be fun, so you don’t have to worry about money or logistics, right? Starting a tour without a plan is like walking through an unfamiliar place blindfolded. Touring can be one of the most fun and rewarding things in your group, but it can’t work without smart budgeting and planning. Everything from where you’ll be sleeping to how much gas you’ll need to get from show to show should be considered during the planning process, and it’s important to be as realistic as possible. If you book tours yourself as a small group, you probably won’t make a lot of money at every show. Instead of planning what you hope will happen, form your budget and strategy around each show’s likely outcomes.
At first glance, the idea of playing almost every night on tour seems like a good plan. More shows mean more chances to earn money and gain fans. But the truth is, this strategy can lead to constant long commutes, morale-boosting shows, and money troubles for you and your bandmates. Since you and the musicians you play with probably have jobs at home, being on the road for long periods of time in an effort to play as many gigs as possible starts to take a toll on your finances, even if the band wins. a little money every night. But even more important than the money is the fact that booking shows just to get you from point A to point B almost always results in sparse crowds and nothing that gets you closer to your goals. Most of us would be better off playing less often and doing all we can to promote important shows through local radio, the press, and interviews.
Use Gig Finder to connect to the best possible venues and clubs for you
Don’t tour without good music and a good reason
This last tip is the most important. The tour is too much work to do without a good reason. If your music isn’t developed or you haven’t built a performance experience locally, a national tour won’t do you any favors. The foundation of your band should be good music, and a perfectly executed tour won’t matter if you don’t have a solid work to play with. But even if your music is great, it might not be the right time to hit the road. Promoting new music or testing unreleased songs are some of the reasons bands should be touring, but if it’s been years since your last release, you’re almost certainly better off staying in your studio and creating.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician and human being. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and puts his hands in his pockets.