10 Tips for Touring Musicians

10 Tips for Touring Musicians

Touring can be one of the best rewards any hard working artist can get. On top of that, it is also one of the most fun experiences you can have in the music industry. You’re with your friends, you’re playing music and you’re traveling, it doesn’t get any better than that! Touring can also be a complete disaster if not done the right way.

Here are a few tips that I’ve learned from my touring experience:

1. If you book the shows yourself, make sure that the venues are proper music venues. You will not believe how many owners say that they host music shows all the time but they don’t even have a mixing board or a P.A. system. The last thing you want is to get there and realize that you can’t play unless you spend money on renting more equipment.

2. Be aware of bands that may appear to be bigger than they actually are. Your goal on tour is to gain a fan base, and you won’t be able to do that if the bands that you ask to join your bill will only bring out their family members, or a couple of obnoxious, drunk friends, who couldn’t care less about you.

3. Guarantees are always necessary! Don’t think that just because you don’t have a crowd draw, you don’t deserve to get paid. You drove all the way to the venue, got prepared for the show and put in a lot of effort to organize the tour and so, you should get paid at least a percentage of the venue’s earnings for that night. Any small amount helps.

4. Promote yourself before hitting a new city! The best way to get exposure is to go to the local radio stations and set up a small interview promoting your show. The last thing you want is to play to nobody (I have).

5. When doing your budget for the tour, account for every little expense. Gas, food, hotels and any other activities that might cost money. It’s also a good strategy to assume that you will spend more than are planning, that way it won’t come as a shock when you read all the numbers at the end of the tour. Add a cushion of at least 10% after you account for all the expenses you can think of.

6. The best way to tour for new bands is to get a van that can fit everyone in and rent a trailer that can hold all the gear. It’s cheaper than you think and you won’t always need to spend money on a hotel/motel room. Sleeping in a van gets better over time as you can get used to it.

7. Don’t annoy each other. Don’t be that guy who annoys someone on purpose. Spending so much time together will affect your relationship if you don’t respect one another.

8. My band came up with a rule for listening to music while on the road. If you play a song, you play the whole album and only once the album is done, someone can change the music. This way, you won’t be arguing over what song to listen to. It also prevents listening to the same song over and over again. There are headphones for that.

9. Make sure your car is working properly and doesn’t need any repairing BEFORE leaving. I know of way to many stories of vans breaking down in the middle of nowhere. It’s not fun.

10. Have some off days where you can relax. Too much gear loading and unloading can get to you. Breaks are nice, but don’t over do them! Long breaks can lead to wasting money on things you wouldn’t have spent otherwise.

Here’s a bonus tip: BOOK IN ADVANCE! Don’t leave the booking of shows until last minute, because you will find that some dates won’t work for some venues, and your route might have to change. Enjoy and have fun!

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