You wanna take the band on the road and get your music into as many peoples' ears as possible! It can be a bumpy ride, but here's some words of advice to hopefully make it all go a bit smoother.
Lots of venues are booked up months in advance. If you’re planning on doing back-to back dates, you’ll need to make sure you’ve started to contact venues at least six months ahead of when you’re actually going on tour. Once you’ve decided on which cities you want to play in, depending on your fanbase, or simply where you have the most mates who could come out to see you and give you a floor to sleep on, you can plan a route. Do some proper research on the cities you want to play in – work out where the cool venues are which actually support live music. If you have mates in that city scout them out to ask where they go out for gigs, where has a cool rep and so-on. Make sure that for the places you know you can pull a crowd you’re gigging on a Friday or Saturday night, so you can really cash in. And don’t make life hard for yourself, make sure your gig tour route kind of makes sense geographically. Then get onto sending out those emails, making those calls and booking yourself in some gigs!
Try and get contracts, or have a good relationship with the venue
Now you’ve got the venues interested in putting you on, ask them to sign a contract. Some venues do this as standard, others are a lot more informal. The problem with informal venues is that they do have a tendency to screw bands over, underpaying or not providing a proper backline. If you can’t get a contract, you better make sure that you trust the venue!
Despite us all being dreaming artists, it’s important for someone to be practical. Think things through. For example, how are you sorting door takings? If you’re doing door, will you need to provide a float? And if you’re doing the float and your tickets are £7, you’re going to need to get lots of £1 coins. Did you think of that? No?
Ask your mates for help, especially for support acts
Mates rates can help you a lot. If you can get your friend’s band as a support act, you’re way more likely to get a good audience, and to have a much more enjoyable night as well. And if you can stay over the night, that’s especially great.
Do invest in promotion
After putting so much effort into arranging everything, the last thing you want to do is play to an empty house, right? Don’t expect people to come out for an unknown band, no matter how good you are. Get on your social media, make facebook events and invite everyone you know, even your mum’s friends. Try making a cool tour promo video that you can share to local groups. Make eye-catching tour posters and ask the venue to put them up for you. Get in touch with local press and events listings sites to put you on. Try asking them to do an interview with you before your show. Do anything to up the hype, so you can have those dreamed-for words – “sold out”.
We’ve got to be honest, it’s pretty hard to make money in music. It’s probably a good idea to get some merch for your band. Great if you have CDs, but get some t-shirts, snap-backs, anything people can buy off you after the gig. Then, once you’ve put on the show of your life and proven how cool you are, hopefully they’ll be inspired to buy something.
ON THE TOUR
Make sure everyone knows what’s going on, especially important things like when soundcheck is or when the last bus is leaving. Because the last thing you want to do is leave your bass player in Bristol.
Play it cool
Sometimes tour life is tough. You’re tired, you’re a bit hung-over, and you need to carry your bloody amp up four flights of stairs. Just stay calm, no-one wants to be getting into band fights when you’re coouped up with each other for the foreseeable future, and tensions might make you play a shit gig (unless you’re a punk band, in which case it might help).
You’ll want to show people how much fun you had on tour – it’s great to let everyone know how much everyone else is loving your music. Also make a scrapbook. Treasure the precious on-tour moments. Because it’s so much effort, you’ll probably be put off organising another one for a while.