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I have been playing in bands for the past 16+ years. The majority of the past 6+ have been spent on the road. I had to learn how to be a tour manager/musician with no real experience or education in the field (outside of past money-funneling DIY tours and documentaries). Occasionally friends ask for pointers. Here are my five tips for touring...
- 1.BE PREPAREDBegin advancing every show 3-6 weeks prior. All the details don't need to be hashed out that early, but at least establish some form of communication with the promoters and venue. Send them a stage plot and/or input list. Let them know who all is in your touring party. The more prepared the venue staff and promoter are, the easier the day will be. The easier the day is, the more excited the venue staff and promoters will be about working with you again in the future.
- 2.MONEYBUDGET AND SAVE. Get an idea of what you will be spending (round up for a cushion), and find ways to counter that (guarantees and merch). Keep a spreadsheet of every penny earned and spent. SLEEP FOR CHEAP. Crash on floors (couchsurfing.com), sleep in the van (Wal Mart parking lots + truck stop showers). If you have to book a hotel, get good at Priceline's "name your own price" feature. MERCH SMART. Don't tow a mobile pop up shop. You are probably going to be sharing a folding table.
- 3.BE RESPECTFULBE ON TIME. Add an hour to whatever the gps tells you the drive will take and be conscious of time zones. LEARN EVERYONES NAME. The sound guy's name isn't "sound guy." Make him your best friend for the night and you will sound better. YOU OWE A SHOW. They paid the cover so now you owe them. If your situation is not ideal, don't make it unideal for the crowd by talking shit. You practiced these songs in a shed, you can handle bad monitors. DON'T FUCK BANDMATES (long term relationships excluded).