Concert tours are a must for just about any musician who hopes to make music their full time job, but touring can get pretty complicated fast. There are a lot of moving parts to consider, from booking all the shows to making sure you're not going to run out of money halfway between Athens and Chapel Hill. The job can get especially taxing if you're a musician booking your own shows or a newly minted band manager trying to pull the whole she-bang together. Don't let the idea of touring overwhelm you so much that you keep your music confined to the local circuit, though. This Touring 101 guide will help you make heads and tales of the entire process. Click on any link for more in depth information.
Believe it or not, if you're book a show, you already know how to book your own tour. Now, I know what you're thinking - it is one thing to call your local go-to venue and talk to people you already know from around your music scene to ask them to pencil you in and it is another thing entirely to repeat that process with strangers in cities you don't know at all. Well, ok, true. It's not as different as you may think, though. A little internet research, a well put-together promo package and a whole lot of persistence is all you need to make your proverbial dance card fill up with gigs.
Where should your band play? There are many factors to consider, but the two big ones are money and money. Here's one important point to remember - you'll get more bang for your buck if you can play cities you can afford to return to every three to four months or so. That way, you can really work to cultivate a fanbase there instead of playing a great show one night and then leaving those fans hanging until they forget about you. Your success at building your audience that way will give you more cash in your pockets to expand your travel area (or maybe even help you attract an agent or label that can help make touring even more financially viable).
3. Gig Swaps
One great way to break into a new music market is to join forces with some musicians who have already conquered it. With a gig swap, you get the benefit of another band's built-in draw in a new city, and then return the favor when they pass through your town. It's a win-win for everyone involved.
Tour managers have a really tough job - but it is also a really fun one (well, it CAN be). These are the guys and gals who make sure the musicians are everywhere they need to be when they need to be there, that the venues are all paying up and that the driver knows how to get from show A to show B - and that is just for starters. Find out how tour managers can help your live on the road run smoothly - and see if this could be the music career for you.
On your first tours, your merch set-up may be as simple as one of your BFFs coming along for the ride and setting up a table with a few t-shirts and an envelope of cash. As your music career gets bigger, though, your merch deal will become a little more complex. In fact, an outside company may be handling the whole thing, from design to staffing the merch booth. How does this all work - and how do you get paid? Find out.
Just how are you going to foot the bill for life on the road? One way to ease the financial pain of touring is to get tour support from a record label - but is this money really all it is cracked up to be? Learn the pros and cons of funding your tour on record label credit and what this can mean for your earning potential down the line.
Visit Playing Live 101 to find out how to make all of those individual shows on your tour a success, and how to maximize the benefits of wowing the crowds.