Words by Kavina.
You never truly feel like a true blue muso until you’ve faced the challenge of tackling your first big tour.
Broaden your scope from neighbourhood to nationwide and a whole horizon of gigs are waiting to energise your soul, your sound and intimately connect you to new audiences.
While you’re making plans to set out and conquer the Australian gig circuit like many legends before you, here’s 10 of our most important tips to keep in mind.
The best laid plans and the roads not taken
You’ve got the basic planning logistics down; like planning six months to a year in advance, mapping a linear path with plenty of room to make gigs on time and deal with any arising issues.
But then there’s things like planning your route so you don't just hit hot spots and big cities, but include burgeoning small-town art scenes and tiny pockets begging for some entertainment and therefore picking up an untapped and loyal fanbase.
Research ideal venues or use a booking app like Muso
Look into their size, what’s hot in the local scene, and if other big events may clash with gig dates and potentially affect attendance for your show. Or put the word out on your Muso profile so venues know you’ll be passing their way.
A tour essential, which venues will request from you well before the bus leaves the band share house. Don’t forget to keep a stash of printed up posters and flyers, stickers and whatever misc promo on hand so you can paint the town the day you get in for a show or leave your mark after.
Are you taking it with you or flying it in? Will the venue supply it or will you need a roadie? If you’re sending it between locations then make sure to sort out logistics of who is receiving it and setting it up and be cautious of delays.
Don’t knock the handy-dandy spreadsheet,
and you might want to get it laminated.
Keep track of your itinerary, costs, contacts, money accumulated, plus all the rest so that you can be in the moment and just enjoy the ride. Share it with the band on google drive or use a project planning app like Monday.
Organise your merch
Besides payday from tour gigs, merch sales are a bands biggest earner and the two go arm-in-arm. Decide on t-shirts, merch prints, how much stock to take with you, and who will man the merch stand on gig day.
Organise some promo
Contact local music magazines, radio stations and music blogs to get the word out about your upcoming shows and let them know you’re available for interviews. Show your gratitude by swinging some tickets and merch in return, friends in the press will be friends for the duration of your music career.
Hype fam assemble!!
What better way to get the word out than to recruit some fans in the cities you’re visiting to spread the word and put up gig posters, especially while you’re on the come up.
Don’t get too attached to a particular set list order, because depending on experimentation and crowd size in different scenes that’s bound to change. While it's imperative to plan one with well-flowing energy plus some crowd pleasers, be sure to practice different song transitions so you can switch it up for an intimate gig, and adapt for any new crowd favourites.
What happens on tour…
Should be filmed and documented at length and used for promotional purposes. Sort out the kind of content you’d like to catch before you’re on tour and make sure to allocate a designated photo and videographer. If you’re going DIY, have quality camera equipment or plenty of phone memory on hand so you don't miss any crucial moments. Then proceed to share footage as a teaser for upcoming shows and give your fans a rolling movie sequence of band tour life.
It doesn’t get better than this!