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What performer doesn’t love the thought of traveling from city to city performing for his or her biggest fans and making new fans along the way? Touring is a great way to get exposure outside of your home town, but now that we have the internet, touring is no longer the only way to get exposure. People can access videos and music of your performances online and experience your raw talent from anywhere in the world. With that said, touring can still be an effective tool to show the world your talent, but it doesn’t come easy. Here are 4 touring tips to keep in mind:

1. Plan Ahead

It’s probably not the wisest thing to find a Volkswagen van, load up your gear, and drive until you find a gig. Touring takes a lot of planning and organization. What kind of venues are you wanting to play? What is the purpose of the tour? To make money? To gain exposure? These are good questions to ask yourself before you plan a tour. If you’re just starting out, start with a smaller tour, around 300 miles outside of your hometown. Figure out the cities you want to reach, and research all of the local venues where you would want to play. Take note of the type of venue. If you’re a solo folk artist, you might not want to bother the night club that only books DJs. Do your research and know your potential clients.

Keep track of names, addresses, contact info, and websites. Call or email the venues, introduce yourself, and send them an electronic press kit, like your GigSalad PromoKit. If you can’t get through to them, try again, and then try again. Most venues request an electronic version, rather than a mailed press kit. Connections are everything, so if you have any friends or family in those cities, see if they know any venue managers/owners. Figure out what date range you want to tour and check availability of the venues. You’ll want to start planning several months out from your tour start date.

2. Route

It’s probably not smart to book a $100 gig in Los Angeles one night and another $100 gig in St. Louis on the next night…. If your starting city is Los Angeles, then draw a line through surrounding cities and circle back to Los Angeles, so that’s where you start and where you end. You don’t want to end a tour 1,000 miles from home and then have to use all of your tour money to spend a week driving back to Los Angeles. Routing is also a great sales tool. If you have a gig booked within 3 hours of a city you’re wanting to perform in, then tell the venue in that city that you’ll offer them special routed pricing, since you’ll be nearby. It’s a great way to make a deal.

3. Budget

Be sure to estimate gas and food costs. Tours can be a big expense with travel costs. Budget wisely and conservatively to make sure you have enough money to get from one city to the next, and always have a backup plan in case you run into unforeseen issues.

Try cutting costs where you can. If you’ve got friends in the city you’re performing in, see if they can put you up for the night. Before you hit the road, stock a cooler with snacks so you’re not tempted to dine out as often. If you do want to try out the local cuisine, head for a food truck. Roaming Hunger provides an interactive map that helps you find the food trucks closest to you.

4. Organize

Whether you use our guaranteed GigSalad booking agreement or an old-fashioned trapper-keeper, make sure you keep information on each gig easily accessible with contracts, contact persons, phone numbers, schedules, load-in times, etc. Advance each date to make sure you have directions and all payment arrangements clear. Never play a gig without a booking agreement. We cannot stress enough just how important these agreements are.

Touring is one of the most exciting parts of being a musician, but it’s also an experience that you have to be prepared for. If you use these four touring tips, you can avoid some inconvenient situations and focus on your performance.

 Photo: Moyan Brenn

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