10 Tips For Independent Touring Acts
With record companies becoming more and more obsolete, touring independently has become the norm for bands in their early years. The decline in music sales has restricted access to monetary tour support from labels. Here are some tips and tricks to successfully touring DIY style.
1. Choose cities that are less than five hours apart. This keeps you under a tank of gas per day, will allow you to get a full night’s sleep and allow you to arrive in early to hit local music stores and leaves stickers, CDs and posters around town. The show is not the only way to get your name out there while on the road.
2. Accept bar deals over small guarantees. You have to do a little more research on the venue this way to make sure they have organic pull and they don’t serve $2 drinks, but you will 9 times out of 10 make more with a bar split.
3. Network with the other bands on the bill as soon as you know who you are playing with. Building a friendship with the locals before you arrive will make them take you more seriously, and they will be more excited to play the show with you and thus promote the show better on their end. This is also a way to find floors and couches to crash on to save more money on lodging.
4. Have a wide variety of merchandise, and have something small to give away for free in exchange for fans signing up for your mailing list. This this is how leave your mark on a town and how you let your new fans the next time you are coming back through town. The more mercy to choose from, the better. Don’t give people multiple color options of the same design, carry more designs.
5. Document your journey, your fans back home want to keep up with you while you are on the road. Utilize all your social media. Instagram, Snapchat and InstaStory are a great way for you to do exclusive content to make sure your fans follow you on all platforms. Cross promote your media. Utilize Facebook live twice a day, on the road and at the show.
6. Have a back up stack of cash for your vehicle. Keep up on your maintenance. Check everything twice before you leave and keep up on your oil changes. Your van could be the end of your tour if you don’t take care of the little things.
7. Save your receipts from everything. Keep a balanced spreadsheet of what is coming in and going out. You are your own accountant on the road, and you are running a business. You have to have these things to write off expenses. Buy your food and alcohol separate every time. You cannot write off alcohol.
8. Check in with all your future tour dates weekly to make sure you still have a show and to confirm that nothing has changed. You don’t want to drive somewhere you don’t have a show at that night.
9. Be comfortable with sleeping in the van when you don’t find a couch or floor. You can stop at any rest top and take a nap before continuing on to your next show. Cutting expenses whenever possible will help your profit margin and allow you to tour for longer periods of time.
10. Be positive, work hard and talk to every fan and band at each show. Thank the other bands, the venues, the promoters and all of your new fans. Without them, your tour wouldn’t have been possible. Engaging with your fan base is the best way to keep them paying attention to what you are up too. Building personal relationships with these people will help make your future tours easier.
DIY touring is the new norm.
Touring successfully takes a well oiled machine, combing through the little details meticulously and the will to push hard and work through obstacles and remain a band afterwards. Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard. This may very well be the most difficult endeavor you have ever embarked on, but if done right it will also be the most rewarding.
– John Safari