Been planning for your first big tour? Or your second, or third? Tour managing can be a lot of work – especially if you are responsible for an entire band. You have to think about routing, advancing shows, traveling arrangements, transporting gear, and how to pack. Here is a helpful guide to planning for a tour that will get you started – or at least thinking along the right lines.
When booking a tour, you want to try to route your trip so that you have the least amount of driving between gigs as possible. A good fluid tour with minimal transit time can help save on gas money and be much more manageable, especially if you don’t have a designated tour driver who can drive through the night.
Advance All Your Shows
This is the single most important aspect of touring (besides booking the shows in the first place). When you advance a show, you talk to the promoter, the venue, and/or the production manager. You usually work out the following details:
- Contact info for the promoter, venue, engineers, etc.
- Arrival time and load in
- Venue address, where do you load in?
- Send your stage plot and input list if you have one
- Back line: what drum set will you use? What will the venue provide? Are you sharing equipment with another band on the bill?
- Sound Check: When and how long? Will you get a full sound check or just a line check (for initial volume levels)?
- Stage monitors: Are you using in-ears? Will you need on-stage wedges?
- Engineers: Will there be a front of house engineer and a monitor engineer?
- Performance Schedule: what order are the bands on the bill playing?
- Merch: Is there a location in the venue where you can set up a merch table? Who will sell it? Will the venue take a cut?
- Dressing room? Hospitality? Is there food or water on your rider?
- Money. How much are you guaranteed?
Plan Where You Are Staying
If you know people in a city you are passing through, try to stay with them! Anytime you don’t have to stay in a hotel, you are saving a great deal of money. It is often difficult to tour without losing money. The three biggest costs are usually gas, food, and hotels.
Based on your advances, you should know what back line you will need for each show (drums, bass and guitar rigs, etc).
- Do you need to rent a trailer? Buy a trailer?
- Will you be flying? If so, do you have flight-ready cases for your guitars and pedal boards that weigh less than 50 lbs? What back line will be waiting for you at your destination?
Find one pair of jeans you really like…and a couple nice deep v-necks. And you’re done. So if you’re in the same city for more than a day, you can at least pretend to have changed clothes…
But seriously – try to pack light and keep it to one suitcase per person. Plan ahead where you will be able to do laundry and how many consecutive days you will need fresh clothes without doing laundry. Pack like you’re going on vacation…and then take half of everything out.
Market Your Shows
There could be an entire article dedicated to this, but I’ll offer a few basic tips.
- Facebook Ads: great for targeting specific regions and demographics
- Try to get radio spots, TV interviews, newspaper stories, etc.
- Use your current fans in your target city to promote your show
Words of Wisdom from the Tyler Bryant Band:
“DON’T WAIT UNTIL THE LAST MINUTE” – Tyler Bryant
“Forgetting your phone charger is a problem. So is forgetting your pants” – Jason Stoltzfus