How to organise a successful tour

You’re playing gigs and building a following, however its all in your home town. It’s now time to take your band on the road!!!

So, why go on tour? The answer is simple, you need to build an audience and look after your fans. It’s that straightforward. This is what we live to do. It’s why we put in all the hours of practice, we strive to play live.

Tip.1 – preparation

This will be a six month minimum of planning and will facilitate an aspect of a larger campaign. A tour will put you in good stead for radio, chart position, further tours, and other festivals. Due to that, it will require meticulous planning in order to fully realise it’s potential.

You may be asking, why does it take 6 months to plan a tour?

Firstly, venue availability, you cannot expect a hot venue to have a free slot at a moments notice. Secondly, you need to build a bit of a buzz, many bands complain about low attendance at gigs however they announce a gig for Thursday two days prior. This is not a good strategy, you need to promote and build a buzz!

Let’s not forget that the whole point of doing a tour is to support a band’s career development. A tour requires planning as part of a wider campaign and therefore needs to be coordinated with radio plugging, PR, press and social media i.e the stuff you cannot just switch on overnight.

Tip.2 – allocate roles

You need to allocate roles in the band. To demonstrate let’s make a hypothetical band, in the group, there are four members. Each role is nuanced in its function and let’s use this example for further analysis. The roles are as follows;

Member 1 – Artist manager

The Artist manager will make sure that everything is coordinated and fits into the larger picture of the campaign.

Member 2 – Tour manager

The Tour Manager plans the logistics of the operation and takes care of things like budgeting, routing. They tend to be the disciplinarian of the group.

Member 3 – Agent

The Agent does the deals and books the venues. This is arguably the hardest job, as it includes getting on the phone and calling a hundred venues to get a couple of gigs. It’s hard graft, remember when you face rejection just keep on plugging. The agent liaises with the tour manager to make sure the strategy is economically and logistically viable.

Member 4 – Promoter

The promoter sounds the horn and lets the fans know the dates and locations of the shows. These days, that tends to be taken care of by social media.

This is an overview of each role, however, it may still leave you with questions, if you want to find out more on the specifics, subscribe to our channel and we will explain each of these roles in more detail.

Tip.3 – budgeting

We now need to think about budgeting and that responsibility falls heavily with the tour manager, who will be berated by the artist manager if they are not making sure those figures add up.

Let face facts, five people in a splitter van coupled with hotel rooms is a tough economic problem. The gig fees will not support that level of touring until you are up to theatre level. So, what can we do about it?

To answer this we need to look at sustainable future models of touring in 2020 and beyond. However touring leaves the TM with a problem, they need to make sure the gig fees cover the band’s expenses. For now, you may find the following suggestions to cut costs quite welcome;

– Have we kept our technical rider lean so we can travel in an estate car?

– Can we do a drive back instead of using hotel rooms? This can make a massive difference to the tour budget. For example, you play a gig and come back home and on the next day drive to the next gig, you’ll need to repeat the cycle for the duration of the tour.

– Can we potentiate this tour by reaching a much wider audience through our social media and consequently deliver a tour that is three times as big?

We now know we are going to be keeping costs down by enacting a lean team. Everyone will be doing multiple roles, for example, the drummer may be playing, triggering samples, loops and tour managing, who knows they may even be managing social media!

Now, whilst we are busy trying to save money, the big question in 2019 and beyond is, can we get someone else to pay for it? It falls to the artist manager to set up some sponsorship deals, anything to offset costs, this can be free booze from Cloven Hoof, free strings from Ernie Ball or a loan of instruments from Boss/Roland. Remember it’s not just about the free merchandise from companies but the interaction between both of your social networks. Find companies that are brands that support new music!

To organise these deals all the artist manager has to do is send an EPK. If you don’t ask you don’t get!

Thank you so much for reading this blog. Don’t forget to subscribe to our YouTube channel for more industry advice and tips.

If you interested in learning more and are serious about progressing in your career as a musician please join us at WateBear HQ for an Open Day or Order a Prospectus.

By Bruce Dickinson

Bruce has had 11 top forty hits and a number 1 album with Little Angels. He’s toured with Bon Jovi, Bryan Adams, ZZ Top, Aerosmith, Van Halen, and opened for Guns N’ Roses on their first UK shows. With his group Colour of Noise, he has run a successful Pledge album campaign and he continues to help new bands through curating the Rising Stage at the Ramblin’ Man Fair festival and Underground Music Conference events. Bruce was a founder of the BIMM group of colleges, leaving in 2012 for the Little Angels reunion at Download Festival and UK tour. He has negotiated several university partnerships and written many validated degree courses, with thousands of undergraduates studying those courses still. He holds an MA in Education Management.
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