Touring Tips & Show Booking Advice for Musicians

 

Whether you're a seasoned touring veteran, successful booking agent, or simply a beginner booking your first tour, there are some things that only experience on the road and first hand knowledge of the show and tour booking industry can teach you.

 

From planning your tour itinerary and finding appropriate music venues along your route, to properly approaching bookers/talent buyers, garnering the right press and radio coverage to properly promote your shows, and maximizing tour profits, there are a plethora of things that must be considered and facilitated in order to book a successful music tour (and not kill your bandmates along the way).

 

So since we at IndieOnTheMove.com have been around the block a few times, we figured we'd put together a little Q&A session to answer some of the most common questions we receive with regards to show and tour booking, and how IndieOnTheMove.com can truly lighten the load, offer a ton of insight, and increase your show booking efficiency and success rate.

+Show Booking Tips

+QuickPitch Emailing

 

That said, let us begin...



What are the benefits of creating an IndieOnTheMove.com account?

While IndieOnTheMove.com primarily functions as an open source music venues database and interactive show and tour booking resource, creating an IOTM account can significantly enhance your booking efficiency and success rate...(READ MORE)



Does Indie on the Move offer consulting services?

Absolutely. For a small fee, our dedicated staff is available to chat with anyone and everyone seeking advice, references, inside market tips, and general insight into show and tour booking with IndieOnTheMove.com. Just send us a message HERE and we will get back to you ASAP with an hourly consulting estimate and proposed date and time.



When am I ready to tour?

If you are considering going on tour, there are a few prerequisites that must be met in order for you to make everything happen. 

 

To begin with, you MUST have a band website, IndieOnTheMove.com profile, or any other webpage or online destination where music venue bookers and talent buyers can listen to your music and get a vibe of what you’re up to. You should also...(READ MORE)



How do I plan a tour?

Whether you’re planning a two-week tour or a two-month tour, first and foremost you should sit down and write up a mock itinerary. This will include the cities you plan to hit and the dates you plan to be in each city. With gas prices as high as they are, try to...(READ MORE)



What should I include in my press kit and/or EPK?

While 90% of music venue bookers have evolved into the digital realm by now and prefer receiving simple emails with a music link for booking review, there are some talent buyers out there that still have one foot in the old school and actually enjoy the snail mail / hardcopy press kit approach to booking (and there are others, albeit a small minority, that actually prefer EPKs).

 

Regardless, in the case that you encounter one of these dinosaurs in your booking travails, it's always good to know what ingredients make up a traditional press kit...(READ MORE)



How do I establish new market contacts for music venues, booking agents, and other bands?

For the markets that you have played before, use those contacts to lock up your next date. For new markets, the easiest way to get your foot in the door is to...(READ MORE)



How do I approach a venue booker or talent buyer?

When contacting a music venue, bookers tend to take you a little more seriously if you speak to them as a representative of your band rather than just as a band member. While you may play guitar or drums, you also have authority to speak for the unit, so you do truly represent the band. It really comes down to a matter of professionalism, as it never comes off well if you say, "I play guitar for this awesome band and you should book us."

 

Your introduction should go as follows…(READ MORE)



What's my sales pitch for new and repeat bookings?

When communicating with a booker, be as concise and informative as possibleRemember, he probably receives A LOT of emails every day, so the last thing he wants to read is a long-winded message. Try to keep it to 4-5 sentences while still hitting on all your main selling points. If you need to, take some time to get your spiel ready before actually establishing contact. In your message, you want to include all relative information that will convince the booker that you are going to get people through the door on the night of the show (i.e., promotional pursuits and previous draws in that market, radio and press outlets that you'll be pursuing, and the like). This tidbit is what he wants to hear because that is how the venue makes money and continues to operate. 

 

A very helpful tool in securing a show, especially in a new market, is...(READ MORE)



How do I delegate tour responsibilities amongst my band members and promotional team?

When it comes to touring independently and really trying to maximize success and profits along the way, it certainly helps to delegate booking, promo, and other responsibilities amongst everyone involved in the project - after all, you have to run your band like a business these days if you expect to make a splash and build a buzz...(READ MORE)



How do I fill a music venue with soon to be die-hard fans?

You sold the talent buyer, booked the gig, and are fine tuning the perfect set to blow the minds of a packed house full of soon to be die-hard fans. The last thing you want is to play your hearts out to a half empty room.

 

Sure, the venue marketers will promote the show and do their best to fill the space, but don't just sit back and hope the room is filled with warm bodies come show time...get out there and make it happen! Read more about "The Art of Self Promotion - How To Fill A Venue".



How do I copyright my music?

Very, very good question. Copyrighting your music is probably the most important aspect of being a songwriter. Before you invest in a radio/press campaign or push to have a song licensed in the next hit MTV reality series, you must copyright your music! This is the only way to legally protect yourself against someone stealing your song(s)...(READ MORE)



How do I get and increase radio airplay?

Radio airplay, whether we're talking about Internet streams, traditional spins on broadcast stations, or through the likes of Pandora (reference: "How to Get Your Music Played on Pandora"), is huge when promoting shows, tours, and album releases. Whether we're talking about getting your song in the regular rotation, setting up a live on-air performance, or merely conducting an interview, radio exposure is always important in securing and promoting a live show and can really help in bringing out the numbers.

 

So how do you secure radio airplay? (READ MORE)



Are there any promotional companies that you could recommend for increased press and radio exposure?

Booking your own tour can present a very daunting task, especially for beginners. With that in mind, it is absolutely necessary that you pursue press and radio promo (college, commercial, and online) in every market that you are playing so that you can maximize the success of your tour.

 

If for some reason you and your band mates simply do not have the time and energy to do all of this alone, we highly recommend the following companies. We have worked with them all personally and they do amazing work...(READ MORE)



How do I raise money to go on tour?

There are lots of ways to go about raising money for tour, but the latest and greatest trend is undoubtedly online crowdfunding platforms like PledgeMusic, Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, FeedTheMuse, GoGetFunding, etc.

 

While they vary in approach, demographic focus, and commission, they all provide a very similar service. Basically you create an account, set a goal, and ask your supporters (fans, friends, family) for donations. A few dollars here and there can add up quickly so these sites are certainly worth checking out.

 

And of course you could always raise money the old fashioned way...by getting a job ;)

+IOTM's Music Industry Jobs & Internships Listings



Do I need merchandise? And if so, how do I increase sales to cover costs and increase profit?

Do not tour without merchandise!

 

When first breaking into a market, even the best promotion can often yield poor results in attendance because you have yet to build name recognition in that area. Other times, you are forced to play for exposure alone just to get your foot in the door at one of the local music venues. In either case, merchandise sales can not only get you to the next show and pay for gas, but also allow you to continue and finish the tour without going bankrupt.

 

So how do you increase merch sales? (READ MORE)



How do I keep in contact with and nurture my fanbase?

When out mingling with the crowd, it’s always a good idea to have an email sign up sheet on hand for people to be added to your “newsletter.” You want to be able to keep the fans that you win over, so make sure you get their contact info. Email is usually the most convenient.

 

Once you start amassing email addresses, you...(READ MORE)



Where do I sleep tonight? And for cheap.

Hitting the road and playing directly in front of your fans is one of the best ways to spread the word about your music, and is one of the most exciting aspects of the music business for many artists. Of course, it can also be downright expensive.

 

The tour budget has to include transportation, lodging, food, and promotion. But a tour on a budget doesn't have to mean sleeping in the van or sneaking ten people into a two person room. At the same time, if you want to maximize the amount of money with which you arrive home, don’t just plan on staying in a hotel every night. Check out the following tips for low cost lodging options while on the road...

 

+"5 Ways to Save Money on Lodging While on Tour"



What should/MUST I bring on tour?

Keeping all of the above in mind, there are some items that DIY touring artists should never leave home without...(READ MORE)



Got any tricks of the trade?

Absolutely! And the list is always growing...(READ MORE)



How do I protect my music rights and collect the royalties that are due to me?

To collect royalties you absolutely must become a member of one of the big three performing rights organizations in the U.S. These organizations collect licensing fees on behalf of songwriters, composers and publishers and distribute them as royalties to their appropriate members.

 

Check out the following websites for further information and get yourself signed up ASAP...(READ MORE)



I'm sick of Top Ramen! Where and how can I find decent food on the road?

We know it's tough while on the road, but getting enough sleep, staying hydrated, and eating well are three of the most overlooked aspects of touring. Sure, everyone wants to party like a rockstar from time to time and adrenaline is always flowing after a performance, but if you're able to avoid the insanity even a little, it may very well decrease band arguments in the van, give you more energy on stage, and improve your touring experience altogether. With regards to finding decent meals in new cities, we recommend that you check out:

 

Yelp - www.yelp.com

 

They've got some great reviews and write-ups on restaurants located in every major, and most minor markets in the U.S.



Are there any music companies in other sectors that you would recommend me checking out?



Related Blog Posts:

+Don't Kill Your Hometown Crowd

+Should You Pay to Play

+How to Get on a Booking Agent's Radar with CAA Agent, Kyle Wilensky

+Building a Touring Strategy with Tom Windish