So, the first part is done: you’ve made some amazing music and you have fans that you want to hear you perform live. Pat yourself on the back for getting this far – it takes real talent and hard work.
Touring is intense, but it pays off. These days it’s tours, rather than record sales than earn the most bucks for musicians. But there’s a lot to consider and carefully plan to make your first tour a success. Here’s some top tips that’ll get you rocking a stage with panache.
Start with lists. Lots of them.
Sit down with your band and write down everything you need for the time you’ll be away. This isn’t just your gear, it’s clothes, deodorant, a tooth brush – bring this stuff with you and you won’t be running around looking for convenience stores and wasting precious time that you could be spending having a great time in a new town.
Space is constrained though, so try and be economical with what you bring (consider buying hotel-sized toiletries). Ultimately, everything has to fit in the truck. Don’t forget to bring a heap of merchandise, as sales from that could make you a serious amount of dough.
Make a budget.
Beyonce may have needed seven Boeing 747s and a fleet of 70 trucks to take her ‘Formation’ tour to the UK last year – but she’s the one and only Queen Bee and you don’t want to get yourself in debt trying to emulate others who have been touring for years. For your first tour, draw up a budget and stick to it. It can be tempting to blow out on drinks while on tour, but you want to make sure that touring generates a healthy profit so that it’s something you can do again and again.
Decide where to rock the house.
Have a band huddle with your manager and think about where you want to play. Consider where your fan base is biggest – you could even do a call out on your Facebook page to gauge the level of fandom. Geography can be a bummer – Australia is a land of vast distances and you’re better off with a manageable schedule rather than one that could make some band members miserable. So try and come up with a wish-list of venues but do be flexible. Remember that any places you miss out on this time can be covered next time around.
Find a logistics company that lives and breathes music tours.
What these guys in logistics do is really critical to your tour’s success – delays could mean cancelling shows and disappointing your fans. The logistics company will ensure that your gear gets from one venue to the next – it’s a tight operation that requires careful planning and an attention to details. Even if you’re a well-seasoned traveller, you’re probably better off letting the pros handle your travel arrangements for a tour because there’s a lot more at stake than having a bad holiday.
There are some great specialist companies such as Stage and Screen who have decades of experience and can put together a tailored itinerary that includes things like extra luggage allowance waivers, artist privacy and extra security, and will make sure that any special requests are met (want only blue M&M’s in a jar, sir? Just kidding). Stage and Screen also has 24 hour emergency help service, so if things start to go pear-shaped when you’re on the road, they’re only a phone call away.
Don’t let stage fright take over.
There are some mindfulness exercises you can do to get your head around performing in front of large crowds in unfamiliar environments. It’s an incredible feeling to perform your music in front of a live audience – but it can be nerve wracking in the early days. Warm up your voice, stay focused and make sure your band knows every chord of every song – when you walk out on that stage, you want to feel like you’ve never been more ready for anything else in your life. Savour that moment.