The DIY Musician: Tour Booking Tips

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The DIY Musician: Tour Booking Tips

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Make Sure You Are Really Ready

In order to have a shot at planning a tour that will not only produce an audience, but will be enjoyable for those that turn up, you need to have a few things in the bag first. Unless the answer is ‘Yes’ to all the following – you should consider stopping here.


Do you have a substantial amount of original material?
Do you have a large hometown fan base or local following?
Have you played any successful/sold out local shows?
Have you worked on your stage presence as a whole?
Do you have some merchandise to sell? (Albums, T-Shirts, Hats, Hoodies etc.)


Get Your Timeline In Check

Organising a tour is no easy task, however to make it easier on yourselves, it’s crucial that you are prepared. Give yourself enough time to plan it out and that you have a timeline drawn out. First you’ll need to compile a list of the tasks, and then you’ll need to set a date for each of them to be completed.


A timeline could include the following: choose cities/towns to visit, choose venues, contact venue owners, research support acts, contact support acts, plan promotion, begin promotion for the tour, tour start and completion dates etc. Ultimately, once you have a detailed step-by-step plan of what you need to do and when you need to do it, the ‘how’ is bound to fall into place much more easily. The timeline will also act as a reference point during the planning and execution stages. Download a free trial from Office Timeline for help.


Locate Your Audience

Before you go cruising around the country, it’s important to know where you are headed, and in order to do that, you must first know where your fans are located. There are a variety of ways in which you can go about this – simply check Facebook Page Insights for followers locations, or you could even ask them through a friendly status. A helpful tool is Fanpage Karma, otherwise an assessment of the local music scenes is often invaluable.


Choose The Right Venues

Once you’ve got your chosen cities or towns, it’s time to choose some venues. It’s important to choose your destinations wisely and realistically. Factors to consider include: venue capacity, the types of bands that usually play there and their location in relation to your fan-base or the general city area.


Other ways to ensure you are picking the best venues available could include speaking to your fellow musos, checking out ‘Top Venue’ lists published by local publications, pin-pointing the common themes of your local gig guide, searching for venue reviews etc. And remember – never underestimate the word of your peers, your own fan base is a great place to start.


Pitch Yourself

Once you’ve found the venues that you want to bless with your sound, it’s time to pitch yourself to the owners, band bookers, or whoever has the power to allow you to play there. Before you go typing up an email, or giving anyone a call, make sure you have the basics covered – line-up, a desired available date, the individual names of each venue’s point of contact, your estimated audience size and links to your music, social networks and a live performance if possible.


Short and sweet is the best bet when it comes to your pitch. Information you should provide includes a short band history or bio, a description of your sound, a possible promotion plan and any other relevant information that may spark interest. Remember – enthusiasm is key, not desperation.


Carefully Select Your Support Acts

When it comes to choosing your opening acts, there a few rules of thumb. Social media is a great place to start your search, but not the only avenue. Firstly, make sure they have a local following in their area; this will increase your overall turn out. Secondly, make sure they have a similar style, without overhauling your own bands sound – the last thing you want is someone upstaging you completely.


Additionally, working with fellow artists and bands is a great way to create possible future projects. Whether you’re jumping into a joint tour or supporting them when they come to your hometown – it’s the ultimate networking opportunity.


Promote, Promote, Promote!

It’s pretty simple really, if you don’t promote your shows, it’s likely that no-one will come. So, the gig promotion checklist is as follows: Facebook event, announcements on a variety of your social media sites, press release mail out to a variety of relevant publications, submission to local gig guides, printed posters in the local areas/each individual venue and last, certainly not least, but clearly most expensive – the paid ad. While many opt not to take advantage of a paid advertisement, a carefully placed promotion can be quite valuable.

Be Realistic About Payment

Let’s be real guys, you’re not going to be making it rain on your first tour, however, you are a business offering a product and therefore, you should be paid. While each venue operates differently, there are three common deal types, a guarantee where the venue agrees on a set fee in advance, a door deal where the venue pays the artist a percentage of the ticket sales/bar sales for the show or a versus deal where the venue pays the artist both ways, once a certain amount has been reached.

While you’re not in the best bargaining position when you’re first starting out, it’s important to do your research and ensure you’re being treated fairly. Check out the Musicians Union of Australia rates page for more information.