Three on Three: 3 Reasons to Go on Tour / 3 Tips on Planning a Tour
A couple weeks have passed since I returned from a month-long West Coast Tour with my duo The Lovebirds. I’ve been busy playing catch up on work and life obligations and am just now starting to settle back into my “normal” routine. The Lovebirds typically end each tour with a little re-cap video to show fans/friends how their support and contributions helped us do what we love professionally, at least for 1/12 of the year. Even though I am the creator (and one of the 2 main characters) of this video, watching it immediately makes me want to call up my bandmate Veronica and hit the road again. It is so lovely to look at yourself living your passion. Which brings me to the topic at hand. I think every serious (and maybe even non-serious) musician should go on tour. Here’s a little bit on why, and here’s a little bit on how:
Three Reasons to Go on Tour
1. It Breaks Your Routine. We get so used to the routines of everyday life, which even at their best and most fulfilling, can make life seem a little dull. I love my life, my friends and my job here in San Diego, but I wake up every morning with a general idea of how my day will play out. On tour, I am thrust into the unknown! It’s not always easy, it’s not always fun, but it’s exciting and ever-changing and eye-opening and character-building. What an amazing way to expand your self-imposed limits and patterns!
2. It Connects You to Real Friends, New and Old. I meet and befriend more people over the course of a one-month tour than I do the other eleven months out of the year. I talk to them and get to know them face to face, not Facebook to Facebook. Talk about a lost art! I also have the opportunity to visit and/or stay with old friends, bearing witness to how their lives have developed since the last time we crossed paths. It is a joy and an honor to be greeted by new friends and welcomed by old friends.
3. It Gives You Purpose. For 30 days out of 365, I get to call myself a professional musician. I get to live each second of those 30 days knowing I am living the way I am meant to live, fulfilling my soul’s obligation to connect with others via words and music. It is a spiritual journey, full of all the revelations and reflections and tragedies and tests and triumphs that challenge and reward the soul. The experience is so powerful, it motivates me even in the “off-time” to focus on my passion and purpose each day.
Did I convince you? Hope so! Now you might be wondering ‘ok, so how do I go about this?’ Here are a few tips:
1. Get Your Ducks in a Row. Be reasonable about all the factors that play into tour planning. How long can you afford to be away from work? What kind of budget do you have? Did you pick a date range that gives you enough time to plan without rushing? Did you pick a route that makes sense for your date range, budget or even the weather? Have you talked to other local touring artists who have pounded the same pavement? The more pre-planning/research you do ahead of time, the more smoothly your tour will go.
2. Get Used to No or No Answer. For a 20-date tour, I emailed/contacted over 200 venues. I didn’t hear back from most of them. Venue repetition over the years generally helps with securing gigs in other towns, but planning your own tour can be brutal. Promoters get bombarded with emails/calls/press kits and more often than not, they don’t even have time to acknowledge you, let alone reject you. This doesn’t make them a-holes, it makes them overwhelmed. Don’t get your feelings hurt when you don’t get a response. And if you do hear “no”, thank them for even taking the time out of their day to tell you you suck for their venue. Humble pie tastes just fine – eat it and wash it down by moving the eff on with your booking efforts. Have a multi-pronged plan of attack – get venue recommendations from local touring artists, swap tour dates with similar artists from the towns you want to visit, ask friends if they’d be interested in hosting house concerts. On free dates along the way, check out local open mics and network with musicians/venues in hopes of booking future tour dates. Stay positive and find a way to stand out from the crowd in a positive way.
3. Music First. Utilize each tour date as a way to showcase your best work. In the first years, tour performances are primarily about first impressions. Give every show your full attention and focus, even if you have played that same set list 8 times in 10 days. You never know who is watching and listening. Treat each gig as an opportunity to improve and to connect with people through the amazing gift of music. Also, treat each day as an opportunity to connect with yourself as an artist, gig or not. Days “off” can be spent relaxing, sight-seeing, or engaging in other shenanigans, but I highly recommend sitting down with your instrument/notebook and allowing yourself to be inspired by your new surroundings. The Lovebirds do most of their writing on tour – we come home motivated to record a new album and start the whole life cycle of recording and touring all over again!
Good luck and Happy Touring! Here’s the latest Tour Recap Video from The Lovebirds –