Music has always been a medium for connecting people from different cultures, backgrounds, and places. Through tours and gigs, musicians travel to foreign lands to share the message behind their music with their fans.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the music industry, like others, had come to a halt. However, the big names in the entertainment industry have returned to the arenas to perform live for their fans. Foo Fighters, Billie Eilish, and Tame Impala, among many others, have begun their tours.
Not just the big names in the industry, small bands and indie artists are on their way to organizing gigs and tours. So if you have been producing music for a while and have garnered a solid and supportive fanbase, you should consider touring.
But organizing a tour isn’t as easy as wonderful and vivid as it may seem. You have to prepare for a lot, especially as a new artist, without an entire team managing everything from transport to accommodation. So here’s a list of six things all touring musicians must know.
1. Book a tour manager or agent
A tour manager takes care of everything from finances to logistics for your tours and gigs. Managers ease your burden by working with the event promoters, venues, and other concerned parties to ensure your gig goes smoothly. Tour managers are responsible for renting transport, hiring drivers, and setting up the venue. Tour managers also hire equipment like a portable drum riser skirt, extra instruments, and even schedule session musicians, if you need any. Tour managers also take care of your tour budget and finances as costing can be an issue on the road.
A booking agent, however, books venues and schedules tour dates. Along with the manager, a booking agent helps map the entire tour so that you can focus on giving it your best.
2. Traveling to the venue
Reaching the venue on time is a priority of most musicians. Typically, there isn’t enough downtime for musicians during tours and consecutive gigs across multiple cities. Sometimes, they may have a show in one city on a Monday and another in a different city on Tuesday. Given the distance between the two cities, you might have to spend the night in a hotel and drive to the other location the following day. Not only is it difficult for some musicians to reach the new venue and set up their equipment, but checking the lights and sounds takes time and is slightly stressful. In addition, there could be a mishap along the way like heavy traffic or transport issues. Therefore, the sooner you reach your venue before the gig, the better.
3. Perform soundchecks
Once you or your band have loaded in and set up your equipment, it’s time to run through soundchecks. Soundchecks are essential to ensure the quality of performance later on. If you perform in a band, you can bring a road crew that includes a sound engineer and other technicians who can check instruments for volume and tuning. If you don’t have the budget or time to book a road crew, chances are your tour manager or venue might already have a sound engineer on staff. However, suppose you have the budget for a sound engineer. In that case, you can set individual mixes for each member through in-ear monitors so that everyone is in-sync, and it helps cancel unnecessary noise. Though musicians prefer to stay clear of in-ear monitors to protect their hearing, soundchecks are essential before performing at your gig.
4. Suitable accommodation near the venue
Finding suitable accommodation may be something your tour manager is responsible for, but if not, then look for places to stay near the venue. Good accommodation is necessary to rest after a performance. Performing live is physically and mentally exhausting, and you need a good night’s rest afterward. That said, booking hotel rooms may not be within your budget, and sometimes hotels are far away from tour venues, so not feasible. You can also speak with your venue provider or music promoter to look for a suitable space to stay or book an Airbnb near the venue.
5. Food budgeting
Depending on your schedule, going on tours is living on the road for a couple of weeks or months. Your appetite and sleep can easily get disturbed during this time. It is tempting to order take-out daily, not to mention the extra charges you’d be paying for food on top of accommodation. With a tour manager, you can share your dietary needs and preferences. They will take care of your meal plan and organize it with the venue provider. If you don’t have a tour manager or meal planning isn’t included in their service, consider buying food from local stores. Fruits and pre-cooked meals are cheap at grocery stores.
6. Invest in noise-canceling headphones and earplugs
If there is one key takeaway from all these essential tips, it is to invest in noise-canceling headphones. Noise-cancellation technology helps block unnecessary road noise when you’re trying to enjoy downtime or your bandmates snoring while resting. You don’t have to go to the pricier end; some budget options are too. Similar to noise-cancellation headphones, you should consider buying quality earplugs. Earplugs help with premature hearing loss that concerts are notorious for. The sound frequency at concerts is around 100 dB to 120 dB, and 30 minutes of this ear-deafening noise can cause irreversible damage. Though some musicians get custom earplugs, those can be very expensive; instead, look for affordable options.
Touring can be exhilarating as meeting your fans, performing live, and being constantly on the road is a dream for many, but it can get exhausting. If your budget calls for it, hire a tour manager and booking agent to ease your burden. Also, make sure to take proper care of your health and manage your finances well. Tours are all about performing for your fans and promoting your music, so make sure you connect with your fans and have fun!