40 things you should know before you go on a band tour, Part 1
A huge, wild, fun, brain-melting tour which will skyrocket your band to the top of the charts and deep into the hearts of fans is basically every musician’s dream. But before you put all your gear in a car along with a gallon of Dr Pepper and hit the highway with your hyped buddies, you should know that, as usual, things are not what they seem to be. Not one bit. We’ve made a list of tips every musician should consider before going on a tour with their band. Remember these, they will save your life.
1. Start preparations early
Believe it or not, organizing a tour includes tons of research, planning, coordination, messages, emails, phone calls, decision making and scheduling. Make sure you have a few months to plan ahead – sometimes even more.
2. Bring merch
Selling merchandise is a good way to both popularize your band and make some extra cash to help with tour expenses. You can sell anything you can afford to put your band name on – t-shirts, badges, posters, picks, stickers, CD’s, etc.
3. Tell the media
Make a list of local media you might want to send press releases to. You’ll be surprised how friendly they can be. And friendly media means more people at your gigs.
4. Go social
Find local social media communities (Facebook groups, etc.) where you can post about your gigs and talk about your tour with people who may actually be interested, can bring friends to the venues and help you promote your events further.
5. Contact local bands and fans
Find and message local bands and musicians who preferably do something similar to what you’re doing in terms of music. Ask them to share your events with their friends and fans and invite them to see you play. The best part is you can make real friends and useful contacts this way.
They’re a handy thing when 90% of your audience is listening to your music for the first time. Flyers will help locals remember your name, logo and the experience in general, even after they’ve had one too many beers.
7. Health insurance
Better safe than sorry. You never know what’s going to happen and even if you planned everything to the last little detail, you know something’s going to surprise you at some point. In case it’s a bad surprise, have health insurance.
8. Make a gear list
Know what you’re carrying around. Make a list of all your instruments and equipment so you don’t forget anything. Also, if you plan on going abroad, border control can quickly know what you have with you. In some countries, it’s good to have a document stating you’re just going to use your stuff for playing and you don’t intent to sell it while traveling.
Video teasers and updates are a great way to let your audience know what’s happening and to keep the suspense level high. They’re good not only for the obvious reasons but also because barely anyone takes the time to do it.
10. Be prepared for hard labor
If you’re used to playing at venues, multiply the effort by ten. You’ll have to do all the carrying, wiring and setting up after you’ve traveled all day, every day. And you’ll have to look fresh on stage. Good luck with that.
11. Lower your expectations
Hot groupies, stage diving, and million dollar contracts are all great and everything but don’t expect them to happen to you. You’ll have to work hard for every little bit of fun you’ll have while touring – what you get out of it depends entirely on you.
12. Be nice to people
No one likes a douchebag. Be kind and respectful to everyone you meet and work with during your tour. People will appreciate a friendly attitude and do what they can to help you pull off a great gig.
13. Warm up
It’s not funny when you warm up backstage. It’s funny when you don’t warm up, go on stage and make a fool of yourself. To give the audience everything you’ve got, you have to know how to get it out of your body first. Fans will know when you’re in control of what you’re doing. And when you’re not.
14. Are you married?
You will be. Touring is basically sharing your life with a bunch of people in a crowded space for days on end. Just like in marriage, what will save you a lot of trouble is respect, patience, love, and compromise. No place for egos on the tour van.
15. The boring stuff
Make sure you have all the addresses, phone numbers, names of managers and club owners, all venue requirements and so on BEFORE you start the tour. This doesn’t mean you’re a control freak, it means you’re not stupid.
16. Be smart about being stupid
Pranks and the like should be taken down a notch. Whatever horrible stuff you plan on inflicting upon your non-suspecting bandmates, make sure that it’s a lot less brutal than initially intended and that you’ve picked the right time. Things tend to get a little more tense than usual when people are stressed out and tired. And you’ll be both.
17. Respect the van
Whatever vehicle you’re using to get from point A to point B on your tour, remember: you’ll be spending most of your time inside of it. Make sure it’s clean, safe and prepared for the long journey.
18. Get out of the van
Leave the vehicle occasionally. You’re visiting cities, some of which you’ve probably never been to before – make the most of it. Ask fans where the best food, attractions and landmarks are and make sure you have enough time to experience them.
19. Be smart
If you have to leave your gear alone, make sure it’s well hidden and secured. People steal, unfortunately, so don’t leave your guitar sticking out of the parked van window while you’re getting food in a grocery store.
20. Make friends
I can’t emphasize enough on how important it is to meet and talk to people in venues. Befriend the sound engineers, the club employees, the promoters, the lighting guys, everyone. Not only will they give everything to make your performance as good as possible but you can count on them for future gigs and even hire them at some point.