I am, right this minute, booking up my third tour and man, I always forget how hard it is. But it's worth it. So worth it.
A few people have been asking me "Do you have a booker?”, "do you have a tour manager?". The answer to the last two questions is simple.
Yes, I have a booker and yes I have a tour manager. It's actually the same person that does both jobs. She is also the lady that drives the tour van, styles me, updates my social media, keeps me in check and makes sure I am not eating too bad on the road and that I get enough sleep…SHE…IS ME!
I have a few tips I'd like to share, incase there is anyone reading this in the same position I was in three years ago where I thought I NEEDED management to do ANYTHING in this industry. Three years of experience, touring, practise, getting it oh so wrong, and going along to loads of training and industry events has taught me one thing…
You NEED to be able to do it yourself.
Organise your own shit, get on the phone, book the shows, get in the car, drive, sing, sleep, repeat.
So, here are my five top tips for "Booking a DIY tour"
1. GET EXPERIENCE PLAYING LIVE.
I mean it. I know it seems like a no brainer but you will be thrown into so many different situations every night. Mysteriously vanishing sound engineers (although you were convinced you'd booked one), set times changing last minute ("the first band was a no show, get on stage, you have a 20min set and a 2 second change over, hurry up!"), faulty equipment, an empty room, a ridiculously PACKED room...anything could happen. You need to play your absolute best performance night after night and so must gain the focus, through experience, to stay on point and ready for anything.
Experience playing live will allow you to:
- learn how talk to promoters and venue staff. It's all about people. PEOPLE book you, PEOPLE pay you and PEOPLE listen to your music. Get good at people.
- understand your own music better, which in turn, allows you to book better shows tailored to your genre and style
- get to grips with how a live music venue works, that includes everything from on stage equipment to how they run their booking office!
- craft a killer live show.
That's live. That's life. Having a good, solid bank of go-to memories stored up from all your live experiences prepares you for the worst and best situations! Take it all in with a smile, a deep breath and remember why you just traveled 500 miles to play a 30 min show for some food, beer and £50.
2. ENHANCE YOUR PEOPLE SKILLS.
Just like I mentioned before, it's all about people. It can be daunting getting in touch with venues. Especially ones that have a fantastic reputation of putting on well known bands. So daunting in fact that you may not even get in touch in the first place?
Remove the image of a big, dark, scary venue, full of expectant promoters, managers and staff. Flip it! Turn them all into your best friend. Speak to them like you knew them long ago and are so glad to be hearing from them again. Be grateful they answered the phone and took your call, they will FEEL that and you are more likely to win them over and get a sweet set time on a fantastic bill because you asked them kindly, and with some passion in your voice.
3. DO YOUR RESEARCH.
Emailing will most likely be how you contact at least 50% of promoters and venues. It can be tempting to copy and paste these emails however I urge not to…you may find you just piss people off with a generic “Hi there..” email.
Do some background searching on each venue you’d love to play at. Make a list.
Then find out the names of the managers, promoters and booking agents for each venue (LinkedIn is a great resource for this). Add it to your list.
Find out how they like to receive music from enquiring bands. Usually this involves NO MP3 attachments that clog up their inbox and annoy them, especially if it clearly states on their site “NO MP3 ATTACHMENTS”. A perfect way to not get a gig! Add this info to your list.
Lastly, write a paragraph of information, a little bit about yourself and some links to your music online, and embed that into each email. Use their first name, tell them if you have played in the area before, and how it went and what you can offer them in terms of audience, ticket sales and of course your excellent well crafted music!
4. TREAT IT LIKE IT IS YOU JOB.
It is your job! It takes a large investment of time and money, to go on tour. The booking process of the tour is exactly the same. Get your ‘tour booking agent’ hat on, and allocate a decent amount of hours to invest into making sure all your links work, your website is up to date as well as your social media. Just like a job, expect to be paid. Once bookings are coming in start leading with your terms of payment and your rider. Depending on the venue they may or may not be able to supply you with this but if you don’t ask you don’t get.
Set aside time to get connecting with your fans on Facebook and Twitter, and send some folk the venue’s way! If you start referring people to the place you would like to play, those people may start referring you too.
Ask your fans if they have any suggestions for you to play, then take the time to connect with this venue. The chances are the venue and promoter will check you out online before even replying to your email. If you have fans in the area who are actively involved in your career, and this is obvious from your social media activity, that benefits everyone involved. So go right now, ask one of your long term fans how they are today and start talking!
5. KEEP ORGANISED.
All you need is a pen, paper and a strategy. Mind map it, spreadsheet it, colour code that shit, however you do it keep it simple for you to be able to see and plot your progress. It can sometimes feel like you are getting nowhere, or that no one is getting back to you but every ‘no’ is a step closer to a ‘yes’. And that first “Sure, we’d love to have you play” is the ball rolling!
I hope these tips helped you out in some way! Each artist has their own style of doing things, if you are not organised how about asking a pal who is to come on board and help you? In return you could offer to do their housework! Whatever it takes, no excuses, get typing and get yourself on the road. You will be so glad you did!
Jump over to Facebook and let me know what you though of my five top tips for "Booking a DIY tour”!!