How To Tour With A Band – Tips For Your First One

This is a guest post from Jeff Fields of Allcases. If you have the knowledge to contribute to this site, find out how to write for us.
How To Tour With A BandThree bass players and two vocalists later, you’ve finally put together something that resembles a tour-worthy band. Congratulations. Now all that remains is to tour the world, score a radio hit, and
live the rock star life, right? Not exactly.

If becoming a rock star was easy, everyone would do it. A huge radio hit is not out of the question, but for most bands, a lot of tours in vans are part of the long road to success.

I’m not here to tell you how to make great music. Chances are, you’ve got that down (And if you don’t, this blog post won’t help). What I can do is offer some useful tips to keep you playing together long enough to give yourself a shot.

So here are some tips that will not only help you be in a better position to tour, but also help you when you do actually start touring.

You’ve Got To Sell Yourself For The Gig

Every band feels bigger than the Beatles when they’re jamming in the garage. Unless you find a way to get your music in front of other people though, it doesn’t really matter how good you are.
Even if you have a manager, you have to be able to sell yourself.

If you’re already gigging, one way to do this is by taking the time to develop relationships with the managers, booking agents, and even bar staff of the venues you play at. Without being pushy, ask the owners or managers for referrals. You might be surprised at who they know in other towns.

Taking the time to thank these people and get to know them a little can pay off big time. The biggest reason bands don’t get asked back to venues isn’t because they can’t play. Rather, it’s usually either because they can’t bring people in, or because the owner or manager didn’t like working with them.

When To Say “Yes,” When To Say “No” To Tour Gigs

When you’re starting out, you should jump on just about any chance you get to play. The exception to this is when someone asks your band to pay to play at their venue. Play for free if you have to in order to gain exposure, but don’t shell out money to play any venue.

As your band becomes better known, you’ll be able to expect bigger payouts. By that time, you should hire a manager to handle the business end of things. Not only can they free you up to focus on making music, but chances are they’ll be able to get you more money for the gigs you do play. Just PLEASE make sure to do plenty of research into who this manager may be. Recommendations from other musicians can be a good way to find out about a good manager who actually has the connections and people skills to get you better gigs than you could get yourself.

Sell Merchandise On Your Tour

Selling merchandise can turn a mediocre paying gig into a high paying one. T-shirts, bumper stickers, CDs, mp3/iPod downloads. If you don’t already have them available, why not? Even bands that play coffee houses should have something available for sale.

The initial cost of offering products is nothing compared to the potential income you’re throwing away by not having them available…

Merchandise For Musicians On TourOne of the biggest reasons bands don’t get far once they get on the road touring is that they run out of money because they never learn to merchandise. Every time you play, you should have product on hand. No exceptions. If your band is good enough for people to come listen to, it’s good enough to sell CDs, T-shirts, and song downloads.

Staying Fit When Touring

It’s important to keep yourself in good shape while you’re on the road. Other than the obvious long-term benefits of healthy living, a healthy lifestyle on your tour can help keep your energy up and your mind clear.

One of the best things you can do for yourselves on the road is watching what you eat. Unless you want to be a novelty band of four fat guys, limit how often you do pizza, tacos, and burgers.

You can’t always avoid hitting the drive thru when you’re on the road. Fortunately, most fast food places have healthy options. Get to know what your healthier options are at your favorite generic chain restaurants and take advantage of them.

Don’t guzzle sugared soda or beer all day, drink lots of water instead. If you’re going to drink, save it for after the gig so you’re not tired all day.

You go long stretches without much chance to exercise (other than on stage) when you’re on tour. Take advantage of the chances you do get to take walks, do jumping jacks, run up and down venue stairs. Whatever!

Tips For Your First Tour With A Band Conclusion

There’s nothing wrong with partying and having a good time on tour, but a little common sense goes a long way for both your physical and mental health. Play great music and follow the tips outlined above, and your band just might survive their first tour.

About The Author:
Jeff Fields contributes writing to Allcases, a company that manufactures high-quality custom road cases. These are great for musicians and DJ wanting an easy way to carry their gear. When he’s not writing or working, he can be found practicing away on his trusty Gibson ES-135.

8 thoughts on “How To Tour With A Band – Tips For Your First One”

  1. These are excellent tips for touring with a band. I agree you should never pay to play, but it definitely works out to get exposure by playing for free. Some bands make a major error by avoiding those gigs. Staying fit and avoiding excessive partying during tours is essential to becoming a success.

  2. There’s a fine line between getting exposure for a gig, and getting underpaid for your work. I suppose you’ll have to judge it case by case, and do what you think would be best for you.

  3. Good advice particularly on keeping healthy & fit. Nothing worse than getting a cold or flu at anytime let alone touring.
    Being a singer myself I always take my supplements with me & eat as well as I can afford.
    Also, we always have CD’s, Download cards, T-Shirts & stickers available at every gig & pretty soon with PayPal providing a Point Of Sale App we’ll be able to sell merchandise to those punters who may have spent all their cash on drinks at the gig.
    I know Square has this feature now but it is unavailable here in Australia.
    Anyway great post.
    Steve Mulry

  4. Sounds like you’re well prepared Steve. Having a point of sale at gigs is definitely a good feature to have, good luck with getting that set up.

  5. Cool! I always wondered how it was done.

  6. Another important point to make is promotion. Keep promoting every show. Contact college and local radio stations in every town you play. Could you do a live interview or session? Call the local newspaper. Use your facebook contacts, fan base or street team to hang up posters before you get there. And fill in the blanks, meaning play daytime shows before your main gig. Is there a coffeeshop you could play at? A college campus, a record store, a street corner? Even if you’ll play for free, you’ll be able to sell your merch, make some new contacts and keep getting better. Utilize social media, youtube and blogging to promote everything you do while on tour.

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