The thrill of planning that first tour will likely resonate in any musician’s heart forever. Sure, the first tour is rarely completely smooth or without problems (same goes for tours number two, three, four…) but downsides included, nothing competes with the feeling of being on the road with your band.
A well-timed and well-planned tour can really make the difference for a band with potential. It’s an opportunity to spread the word about your music, sell some albums and merch, and network with other musicians, booking agents, critics and promoters.
But of course, a poorly planned tour can have the opposite effect. Take our advice, be honest with yourself, and do your due diligence when it comes to planning, and it’ll pay off in the end.
When To Tour
There are quite a few things to take into account when deciding when to start planning your first tour. A lot of it depends on whether or not your band is ready. Do you have enough material to perform a full set, including an encore? Are your live performances relatively tight, or do you need a few more months of practice before you’re ready to take the show to a crowd of total strangers? Does each member of the band have enough money to support themselves for weeks or months on the road?
Once you feel that your group is ready, think about the timing. The spring and fall are usually the best times — as opposed to the summer, when people are often traveling or too busy to check out new shows, and the winter, when the weather can cause transportation issues and deter your potential audience from coming out. But the most important thing is that your band is available, meaning that you may need to plan around when people have a break from school or can take time off work.
Where To Tour
As with so many other things in the music business, it really comes down to who you know. Think about where you have connections or friend-of-friend relationships who can help you get booked at great venues and get the word out about your show.
Of course, you’ll need to think logistically too. Try to plan out your route in a rough circle. Driving a few extra hours out of the way doesn’t seem like a big deal in theory, but when you’re exhausted and you’ve been on the road for weeks already, it’ll become a serious issue that can prevent you from enjoy yourself and playing your best.
If you know more than a handful of other musicians, you’ve no doubt met someone with a tour horror story of their van breaking down, their gear malfunctioning, or something essential getting lost or stolen. Prepare yourself as well as you possibly can for any potential mishaps. Get a roadside assistance plan for your vehicle. Bring backups of anything you can. Get everything tuned up before you hit the road.
Planning and executing a tour is a complex and challenging process, but in the end, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience. Follow our pointers and plan as well as you can, and it could be the beginning of a long and exciting touring career for your band.