Informative Article Contributed by Guest Journalist from Know Your Instrument
Going on tour is an important aspect of promoting your music. It definitely sounds like a lot of fun, with you and your bandmates traveling to different places, playing music that you love and meeting new people at every turn. But it isn’t at all like going on a fun, carefree field trip. Touring is hard work and if you don’t plan it well it can be extremely draining and make you think twice about going on tour again.
Oh but we’re not discouraging you from promoting your music in this way. We’re just here to lay out the realities of being a touring musician so you can prepare yourself and be better equipped at facing challenges and overcoming them. Touring is definitely a must for musicians who value being able to connect with their audiences live and reach potential new fans. It may be difficult, but with a good plan and team on board it can be a success.
Here are five challenges you will likely face as a touring musician and how to overcome them.
You may have a list of venues you want to perform in but have you thought about the hows of going there, where to stay and whom to talk to for any concerns? Disorganization and lack of information can be a source of conflict – in schedules, among band members and with local promoters.
Before even setting sail, you need to come up with a tour itinerary that contains all the pertinent information you need. These include:
- The dates you are playing, the name of the venue and the address
- The contact details of the person/s you are coordinating with for those dates
- Electric guitars, drums, keyboards, amps and other instruments and equipment you will be using
- Media interviews, radio or TV appearances and the venue and time
- Accommodation details for each location
- The show schedule, complete with details about the times for set up, sound check, band rehearsal and when the doors open
- The contact information of the other people involved in the tour, such as the manager, band members, agent, driver, promoters and other individuals you may need to get in touch with
Before you hit the road, make sure you know where you’re going and how you’re getting there. Map your routes and make a printout of the directions. You can’t always rely on online maps especially if you’re driving through an area with a spotty internet connection. Planning out a route ahead of time also lets you estimate how long it will take you to go from one place to another and so allow for any unforeseen circumstances, such as roadblocks or accidents that can get you stuck in traffic. It’s better to be early than late!
Blowing your budget
Your tour may be cut short if you find out you’re running out of cash and the door split money you may or may not get from the next venue won’t be enough to cover the rest of your trip. To avoid this, make sure you make a detailed budget, including costs of your daily allowances, gas, accommodation, food and emergencies. Come up with a safety net or backup plan in case you’ll need extra cash to come in while you’re on tour.
Squabbles among band members, arriving late because of a hangover, and other such behavior can cause problems and complications when touring. While no one is probably expecting you to be complete angels while on tour, make sure everyone on board is committed to following the schedule.
Lay down some ground rules and have everyone understand the importance of making a good impression on venues, local promoters and fans by acting like professionals and delivering a praiseworthy performance.
The rigors of touring can quickly take a toll on one’s health. Late nights, lack of sleep, substance use, greasy food and lack of exercise can wreak havoc on your body and your overall well-being. Physical, emotional and mental health are important – you’ll need all of these to continue making music.
To avoid artist burnout and keep yourself in good health, make sure you include stops at healthy food joints and create a schedule that allows for plenty of rest, exercise, practice and time to talk with loved ones back home.
Those are just some of the challenges of touring for musicians and the ways you can overcome them. Touring can be extremely demanding and exhausting, but with a good plan and the right attitude, it can also be a lot of fun.
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