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Touring musician tips

Indie Musicians: You Know You’re Ready to TOUR When…

So this is it! After many years of religiously practicing in your garage, your band finally came up with a good set of songs and released an album. Luckily and to your surprise, many people actually liked it. You’ve gathered a good number of fans just a month after you released your CD and now you want to do something that you’ve been so excited about ever since you started making your first song- TOUR.

Well, I am excited for you too and I hate to pop your bubble but touring is not a very easy thing. Of course, you do not want to break the momentum of your success but you just might want t settle down a bit, breathe in and out, assess your capability to tour and plan.  I will attempt to list down some qualifications and pre-requisites for a band to start a tour. There are exceptions to the rule of course, but this is pretty much what regular rising artists consider before touring.


When you already have at least 10 songs. Or an album.You have to have lots of materials that could at least last 30-45 minutes when you’re onstage. You do not want to run out of songs or play the same songs over and over again in your tour.  Your main goal is to impress the people and have some fun while doing it. You can also have back-up songs like covers and silly limericks just to spice things up a bit.

When you’ve already played a lot of times in local clubs and big events in your town. This is a no-brainer. You simply cannot play in other cities when you haven’t even played in the local clubs. Not only because it is not practical to do so but also because you still need to get the hang of playing onstage with a large or small crowd. The local clubs serve as “rehearsal” area for you to become the best performers onstage.  By playing tons of times in your local clubs, you would somehow develop a stage presence which is necessary for touring bands. Bands do not simply play music when they are onstage, they have to entertain and show some wit and charm to really grab the audience.

When you’ve already saved up enough money to feed you for at least 3 months. When you are doing something that you really want for the first time, it is best that you are prepared for it financially so you can give it your best.  The band should at least have enough savings for gas, oil, brake fluids, spare tire, and each band member should at least have enough money to feed and clothe themselves for at least 3 months. Do not expect any dollars in return in your first tour. Do it for exposure and because you really want it-not because you want money. Money will come eventually.

When you’ve come up with a tour route and a list of contacts. In order for you not to get too overwhelmed, overworked, and clueless, it is best that you hire a road manager. His/her responsibilities include (but are not limited to): advancing show dates, making travel & hotel arrangements (for all group members), hiring backline techs (see Road Crew),wor recommending techs to be hired (depending on authority given by artist management), coordinating artist media obligations (normally while on tour, but could be anytime), ensuring artist rider requirements are met, collecting payments due to the artist at show time (or signing off on amount due to be sent via wire, etc. [ Wikipedia]. Plan a sensible schedule with him/her on which places you would like to play on which days.  In your tour, you should try to maximize playing time and minimize traveling time.

If you have no problems with the things listed above then you, my friend, are ready to tour! Of course you still need to do ‘little’ requirements like booking, etc. But my point is-you are ready to start those steps. Make sure you bring lots of snacks, batteries, sleeping bags, grooming kits, and water. And of course, do not forget to bring your CDs, merch, and other paraphernalia. Enjoy the ride!

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