Touring can prove to be a very difficult experience for bands. Even experienced, successful major acts can tell you they've been through some bad times. But touring can be even more difficult if you're a struggling indie / DIY musician. Here's some great tips to make sure you'll have the best possible time if you're planning to go on tour with your band - because, when done right, it can be one of the greatest experiences in your life!
If you're in a band, at some point you'll have to go on tour if you want to move things forward. After all, just playing in your hometown can become boring and it's also (and still!) the best way to show your music to other people.
We live in an age when even major acts can't rely solely on their record sales, and touring is their main source of income. Therefore, if you want your band to become pro, or at least something resembling it, touring is the natural and unavoidable step you must take. Here's some great tips that could help you having a great time next time you tour!
1) Plan your route: Routing is key: don’t waste gas or time driving between distant cities. Gas is money. Time is money. Also, the more time you spend in the van, the more time to brew discontent...
2) Don't think big: Play smaller venues than you would in your hometown. A sold-out small venue is better than a big empty venue.
"Not even the dog showed up!"
3) Make the most of your time! If you’re not driving to the next gig, don’t waste your day: go promote; play an in-store or in-studio; record some songs, practice or busk!
4) Network! Gig swap with bands from other cities. You open for them in their town. They open for you in yours.
5) Try to get some press. Find local press, bloggers, radio stations, colleges, record stores, or other locations that will let you play for them or help promote event.
6) Be punctual. Practice your load-in and setup before you hit the road so you can be as efficient as possible.
7) Be nice! Be friendly with the venue's staff and also follow up with a Thank You email to whoever booked you… but don’t expect a response.
8) Be wise! Print out your contract/email/agreement for every show. You might need to reference it in case of discrepancies while settling up.
9) Sell merch items your fans want to buy. Don’t make stuff they don’t want. Not sure which is which? Ask them!
"We thought the Russian dolls would be a hit!"
10) Double shift. When you’re not on stage, be at your merch booth. Meeting fans and selling merch is more important than partying.
11) Shower. Your bandmates and fans will thank you.
12) Try to be healthy! Eat healthy, and keep the drink or drugs to a minimum... many tours (and bands!) ended because of this.
13) Keep an eye on your gear! If you're able to bring your expensive gear into the hotel room every night, do it. No stolen instruments!
14) Always do your best! Always play your best, no matter how many people are in the audience. Make them happy they showed up... they might spread the word and next time you play, more people will be there!
15) And remember: when you tour, get ready for unforgettable moments of triumph and humiliation. That's life. It’s work, but have some fun!
Check the original CD Baby Blog for more touring tips.
Feeling inspired? Why don't you visit one of our PMT Stores and get the perfect gear for your next tour? AND REMEMBER: We're also more than happy to help YOU when you tour! Get in touch with any PMT House of Rock Store, drop flyers with us, and we'll also be happy to help spreading the word about your gig via our social channels!
By Ivan Silva