I’ve provided insight before on how to book a tour yourself in Booking Tours: Trouble, Tips, and Tactics, but should your band even go on tour? This is a critical question you need to answer if you plan on hitting the road. Despite what you may have been led to believe, going on tour does not just result in gaining fans and making money. Here are some things to consider before you make the plunge!
Is There A Demand For Your Music?
Disregard the self-help approach of “Grabbing life by the horns!”. The market is saturated with bands right now, and you do not want to become another number in the sea of gas station stops and musical despair. First, ask yourself these questions. Is there a demand for your music? When you play locally, do you draw more than your close friends and relatives? Is anyone buying your album? Do you even have an album? Are there followers on your social media sites that ask you to perform in their cities? Here is the sad truth of it. Most people do not just attend shows to discover new music or support the scene. Unless you have fans in other cities, or plan on touring with another band that does, just stay home. Get online, and get your music out there. Engage with people and get them into your band before hitting that dusty trail. I’ve noticed a growing number of bands touring through my city that clearly thought touring would = money and fans. WRONG! Don’t make the same mistake. Can you imagine traveling in a van for months, spending all of your money on gas/fast food/hotels/van repairs, and then performing to an empty club every night? That is what will happened if no one knows or cares about your band, so make sure they do!
Can You Afford It?
Traveling is expensive. If you don’t have a van and trailer, you will most likely need to buy or rent them. That van will need gas. You will need food, places to sleep, and some extra cash for the inevitable breakdown of your van. Aside from traveling expenses, you will need to stock up on merch. Don’t even think about touring without it! All of these things cost money and all of them should be taken into consideration.
What Is It That You Are Even Doing?
You need to have an end goal. Are you touring to promote a new album? Are you looking to increase your fanbase in cities you’ve already toured through? Are you filthy rich, or just like being a smelly gypsy? Whatever your reasons are for being on tour, make sure you know what they are. You will get more out of it if your purpose is clear to yourself, your fans, and potential fans. Who knows, maybe your music already sells well online and you don’t even need to leave your studio!
Are You Ready?
Mentally and physically, you will be tested in your travels. It’s crucial to make sure you like the members in your band, or can at least tolerate them. Some people don’t travel well and sitting in a van for 14+ hour long drives can wear your patience thin. Will the driving shifts be split? Will half of your band get carsick or too drunk to drive? Despite what other people may think, tour is not vacation. You will work harder on the road than in most other jobs. Long drive, promote, unload, setup, perform, tear down, load, sleep, repeat! Make sure you can handle it!
To Tour Or Not To Tour?
That is the question! Whether you have toured before or this is your first time, you now have plenty of things to consider. Hopefully this article gives you the confidence to carry on, or saves you a whiskey barrel ton of time and money. Cheers!