Why touring is still important for an independent musician
“On Tour” is Melting Pot’s touring guide for independent songwriters and bands who are putting together tours in Australia and beyond. Having spoken to so many artists within the Melting Pot community about their experiences, we realised there was an enormous collective knowledge base. We hope that this guide can not only help artists have successful, positive tour experiences and avoid mistakes of those that have gone before them, but also give some well-deserved recognition to the venues and organisations that are working hard to create supportive environments for touring artists. We are aiming this primarily at solo singer-songwriters but think it will mostly be applicable to small bands as well. We know that the guide is likely to go out of date and that this is a very subjective thing - so if you see something that’s wrong or if you’ve got something to add, then please let us know in the comments below.
Over the last two years I have asked for the insights of artists and music industry professionals regarding independent music tours. I received so many responses with useful tips and suggestions that this has been turned into an ebook – On Tour: A Guide to Planning, Booking & Promoting a Killer Music Tour – which is a handy go-to resource for anyone looking to put their own tour together. It will save you time, money and make sure you avoid the same mistakes of those that have gone before you.
For the next 8 weeks, we will have a weekly feature on the important aspects of touring including:
– How do you know if you are ready to tour
– How to find and book suitable venues
– The #1 mistake artists make when putting together their own tour
– How to get the logistics right when planning your tour
– The most important resources and contacts for a music tour
– How to turn a good tour into a great one
We encourage you to join us on this journey and include your own stories, thoughts and insights.
But to start off with, we will look at why a music tour is still critically important for artists.
So why is touring important for independent musicians?
You may have noticed that for the biggest names in the music industry, touring has returned as their focus (and primary source of income).
I know you’re thinking you’re not Adele, Coldplay or Taylor Swift (if you are, feel free to say hi!) – they have a huge following and a whole marketing / PR juggernaut behind them – but much can be learnt from their strategy.
The ability for most people to generate income from simply writing, recording and releasing a song disappearing by the day. Independent artists need the likes of youtube, spotify and soundcloud to help them build a following. But unless you have a video that goes viral or a fortunate synch deal, you’re unlikely to see a difference in your bank account balance.
A tour is not going to solve that problem for you. Or at least not overnight. But if planned out strategically in advance, a well run music tour is important for taking an artist’s career to the next level and creates opportunities that would otherwise be unavailable to you. We’ve set out some of the potential benefits of touring below:
Grow Your Audience Abroad
Tours are a fantastic way to reach new audiences. Australia is full of smaller towns where people are keen to hear live music. There are also many venues and events that have built a culture of discovering and supporting independent artists. The key is to ensure that these sorts of shows with receptive audiences are part of your tour itinerary. Easier said than done right? It is our hope that our touring guide will well and truly help you on your way in achieving this.
More Media Coverage
Touring opens doors that might otherwise be shut if you remained in one place. A tour is looked on more favourable from music blogs and news sites with national coverage and readership. Similarly local radio, online and print press will want to cover you if they can because you are making the effort to tour interstate or from out of town.
Find Out (and show others) The Relationship Will Last
Being in a band is like being in a relationship with multiple people at once. Even if you are a solo musician, it’s likely that you will have one or a number of people that you will rely on to succeed as a musician.
Touring is perhaps the best way to find out if your band or team can stay together. When you are around each other 24/7 – eating, sleeping, washing, passing time – your band or team have to find a way to make it work. It is no secret that labels, radio programmers and other industry professionals look for tour hardened bands because it’s an indication they will be able to stand up to the challenges of the industry without breaking up.
Take Your Show To The Next Level
If you’re playing monthly shows in your hometown, then you could get more stage time in a week of a tour than 6 months of playing in your hometown. There is no substitute for real stage time. These hours on tour will see you become more comfortable and enable you to hone your stage craft and presence.
Keep Your Hometown Fans Excited
An overlooked side benefit of touring is the positive impact they can have on your hometown fans. They show that you are developing as an artist or a band rather than remaining stagnant. By leveraging the social media platforms you use, you are able to keep your local fans engaged while away touring which will help build excitement for your next hometown show.
When on tour you will meet many other bands, make friends, and pick up valuable industry information that you can’t get from the Internet. You will learn about the local scene, popular tour rates and key contacts which are invaluable should you plan to tour the same location in the future. You might be playing to less people, but you never know who is in the room or who you might meet along the way.
A tour creates opportunity. It has never been easier to record music and release it online. With more and more music released daily, it is harder than ever before to stand out from the crowd. One way to do this is to go on a tour.
Putting together a successful tour is not an easy thing to do – perhaps this is why bands that can do it are so well respected. There’s no substitute for hardwork, planning ahead and being organised – but we hope this series will assist you with all of that.
If you’ve got any tour tips, comments or suggestions, we’d love to hear from you.
The views expressed in this article are the views of the author and not necessarily the views of Melting Pot.
Author DetailsLiam Dixon
Liam is the founder and director of Melting Pot. Once a regular performer at Melting Pot events as the writer / frontman for local band Creatures of Karma, these days Liam works as a commercial lawyer by day. When hes not busy doing lawyer stuff or with Melting Pot, Liam loves to write, play and record his own music and see the odd gig around town.