How To

How to Plan Your First Tour: 10 Things you Need to Know

Photograph of the blog post author, Music Gateway Team

Music Gateway Team


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Planning a tour is a somewhat foreboding task when you’re just starting out. There is so much to consider even during the early stages, but the tour itself will run well if you planned efficiently. Whether you’re an artist yourself or helping out a friend, there is a lot of work involved so it’s important to know the best way to approach it. Below are Ten Tips for planning a successful tour.

1. Know your artist. If you’re the artist yourself, that’s great, but if it’s somebody else, then it’s important to know their music and what they’re capable of doing. If you aren’t fully aware of their music and who they will appeal to, it’s likely that the rest of the tour won’t go brilliantly. In addition, if you’re not aware of what physical limitations they may have, then they could become too tired to perform too often, causing the tour to fail.

2. Budget effectively. Money is a huge factor in planning your tour, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be a large sum. As long as you have established how much money you have to work with in the early stages, it’s much easier to work out where the money is going and how it can be most efficiently used. Don’t waste your money on five-star hotels (they come later in life), and make sure you always have some emergency cash.

3. Venue costs. All live music venues are slightly different, so you’re likely to come across different costs needed for each show. Whatever kind of payment they ask for, it’s always important to understand what is included in the cost, for example bar staff and security. Communicate early on with the venue owner/promoter what you’re willing to pay for, and how much.

4. Book gigs early and get to know the people venue owners and promoters. Making early contact is important, because it allows you to create a good relationship early on. You will be more likely to receive better treatment at the gig and may be invited back at a later date. Research different venues in the areas you want to play, and try and talk to other artists who have played those venues.

5. Know your market. When planning your tour, try and gain an understanding of the local area you want to gig in. It’s beneficial to know what local artists and genres are most popular; it’s no good trying to play disco tunes to a room full of punks.

6. What makes your artist and event unique? There are so many live gigs almost every single night in any given town or city that it’s difficult for music lovers to know which one they should go to. Give people a reason to attend your show. Do you have great pre-show entertainment? Have you managed to organise any drinks deals? Why is yours better than the other gig down the road? Make sure people know!

7. When are the gigs going to be? The time of year is often very important to consider when planning a tour. Summer is festival season, so that’s often a no-go for smaller artists, so consider when people are going to be more likely to attend your show. The winter is often a bit dodgy for gigs as the weather conditions aren’t great, but at the same time, the cold weather does encourage people inside! Think about what kind of gig you’re putting on, and when the best time to have it will be.

8. What licenses are required/what restrictions are in place? The majority of live music venues will have the appropriate licenses already, but it’s a good idea to double-check just in case something goes wrong. If your venue has capacity and sound restrictions in place for example, find out what these are so you can adjust the event accordingly.

9. What are the health and safety regulations? This is the part that some people often consider the most boring, but health and safety is a vital component to your tour plan. You will need to carry out an independent risk assessment of each venue, including what hazards there are and what to do in case something goes wrong. For example, if there is an electrical fire, you will need to know where the fire exits are, and what the protocol for the situation is. You can find out more about event safety here.

10. Don’t panic. Although it’s likely that you’ll become highly stressed at some points of the tour (sorry!) it’s important to remain level-headed. If something goes wrong, it’s often your responsibility to ensure it gets resolved. You may fall out with a promoter, or turn up late to a gig, but as long as you stay calm, everything will run smoothly.

Your tour will succeed as long as you plan effectively; getting a tour manager on board may help this. It’s likely that you’ll be extremely busy and a little stressed, but touring is a great experience that enables you to make great friends within the live music scene whilst having amazing nights listening to live music.

This article was written by Ryan Ottley-Booth @ Music Gateway

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