Today’s music industry looks a lot different than it did twenty years ago. CDs are gone, the music-sharing wave that was Napster, Kazaa, Morpheus and Limewire has come and crashed, and the digital music industry has transformed our listening experience into a subscription-based one.
But some things never change. Touring live is perhaps the simplest and most intimate way of sharing music. If you want to make your name as an artist, it’s still difficult to do without hitting the road. But how do you go on tour? Here are some tips.
1. Stoke the Crowd Up
Yours won’t be the first band to hit the road, and we can all hope it won’t be the last. Reusing a few ideas from hundreds of years of traveling entertainment is a good idea when you’re getting ready to head out on tour. Let’s tackle the simplest question first: When do you want to leave, and roughly when would you like to be home? Got that figured out? Good, now it’s on to choosing venues.
Look for spots where bands similar to yours have performed in the past, but don’t expect that the venue will know who you are. You’ve got to wow them with a sample of your stuff! Most bands do this using an Electronic Press Kit, or EPK. It should include information about who you are, bios on band members and media to share, such as videos of your past performances. Combine your press kit with a well-thought-out social media campaign. Designate someone in your band as social media manager and keep the stream of promotional material churning.
2. Budget and Logistics
Now that people are excited to come see you perform in venues across the nation (or state), you’ll need to plan a route that incorporates all of these different venues without doing too much doubling back. You’ll need to arrange for vehicles and make sure they have the capacity to tow all your gear. The vehicles will need fuel, too, and the humans in them will need beds — sometimes. All of these things cost money.
Yes, you tour to raise money and spread your band’s name, but you might also need to plan out how to fund a tour. Don’t be put off by the prospect of crowdfunding. You won’t be the first band to do it. With your transport and lodging arranged, you’re one step closer to platinum status.
3. Expand Your Reach
People love shows, and if those shows include more than one of their favorite artists, they love them more. Network with your fellow musicians to arrange some attractive concerts for your venues to promote. Contact artists you know, or artists you don’t yet know, before you make it to town and inquire about playing a show together. If they say yes and the place sells out, everybody wins. Not only do you make more in ticket sales, but you’ll have touched a whole new group of fans.
4. Stay in Touch
Same time next year? A successful show is sure to generate more interest, so be thoughtful about how you work with venues you’d like to come back to. Make sure you keep in touch with them and have good contact information so that you can rely on their availability for the next tour. After a few trips, you’ll be best buddies with every pub and concert house in the land.
Part of living the musician’s dream is sharing the once-in-a-lifetime stories that come along with living in close quarters while on the road. If you never do it again, commit to your first tour and make it happen. It might seem like a lot of work today, but what if this is your big break? It could be the quickest little conversation or a show at a tiny venue that changes your career and rockets you to fame overnight. Good luck!