Getting your new band off the ground comes with all kinds of headaches and problems. Then, once you start being successful, that comes with even more. Though getting frequent gigs is the goal when you’re just starting off, once you hit this point with your band, you’ll have to figure out how to get to them.
Unless you’re a solo acoustic artist, you’ll need to transport your instruments and your band members at the very least. Depending on the complexity of your performances and the type of gigs you’re playing, you could also be schlepping your own PA equipment and even a lighting system.
In addition to the size of your band and your equipment needs, your approach to band transportation will be determined in part by where you live. What’s feasible in a smaller city or town will be a different story in a crowded city with expensive parking like New York.
In this article we’ll cover all the transport options for all types of bands to get to their gigs in order to keep rocking.
Buy a van
Buying your own means of transport is ideal. Though it may seem financially daunting to purchase a vehicle that will only be used for gig transport, in truth, a little deal-searching and some smart budgeting will make it easier than you may think. Band vans don’t have to be new or pretty — they just have to run. With a little luck and patience, you can find a decent van for your purposes for around $1000. Spend a little more for a conversion van, and you can crash it in when you’re on tour.
If each band member puts their gig pay into a pool for a couple of shows in a row, the van fund will fill up quickly, and all members will see the benefits. Keep kicking small amounts of money into the fund from every payout the band gets in order to pay for routine maintenance as well as insurance and registration costs.
Buy a small trailer (then need a vehicle that can tow it – a 4 door sedan will work though)
If you don’t want to spend the money on a van or don’t want to worry about maintenance, buying a small trailer might be the way to go for you. Of course, this does mean that you’ll need a vehicle that can tow the trailer. Depending on the size of the trailer and the amount of gear you need to transport in it, you’ll likely be able to tow it with a normal four-door sedan.
Take Uber/Lyft (for small bands)
Though a trailer takes up less space than a van, it still needs to be parked somewhere on a regular basis. If you live in New York or another dense city, this could be more of a headache than it’s worth. If that’s the case, you’ll be best off with short-term rentals or ride shares. A band with a lot of gear should look into finding a ‘man with a van’; Brooklyn and the rest of NYC are full of people offering these services. For a smaller band or an acoustic setup, using a rideshare app like Uber or Lyft should be fine (just request a minivan to fit your gear).
Share with other bands
For the band on a shoestring budget, sharing is caring. Be proactive and coordinate with the other musicians sharing the bill. Chances are, one of them will have their own means of transport and can make room for your stuff. This won’t be so reliable, especially if you often play with bands that are touring or from a different area as you. But when it works out, it’s the most cost-effective solution.