If you’ve got an itch to get your band on the road, it is worth considering learning how to book a tour for yourself. It’s not as hard as you think, you’ll learn plenty in the process, and can strategically increase your band’s profile for future endeavours.
If you’re struggling to get offers from bookers and promoters
If you’re sick of waiting for touring promises to be fulfilled
If you’re a band trying to increase you’re profile by building your resume
If you can’t cover the costs and want to tour on a light budget
If you’re launching a new product, such as an album release
If you have significant fanbase in certain countries and want to capitalise on it
Headlining tour that looks great on your resume
Prove you’re serious about making an impact to be more appealing to labels/bookers in the future
Can be linked in to festivals and events that you are trying to apply for
Network with industry folk, musicians and venues all around the world
Learn skills and professionalism for ongoing personal development
Full control of all aspects – costs, dates, times, lineups etc for yourself.
Confidence in knowing exactly what promotion has been done
Sales – Take note of which locations people are buying your merch from
Online – When people send you emails or facebook messages, take note of where they are from
Cities/Countries – Where do you want to tour?
Other tours – Find bands similar in style & popularity to you, and check where they have been playing. Research the venues on the posters and take note of the support bands.
Other bands – Research the relevant city and reach out to local bands who seem to be playing regularly. Reach out to them and ask them for recommendations of venues and local promoters.
Special nights – If you have a metal band, then see if there are any ‘metal nights’ in various cities. Contact the venue/promoter and see if they can book you into one of there nights. This is a good place to start mapping out your journey.
Location – Easy for you to access with your vehicle, and central for fans to get to
Capacity – Realistic size, not too big, not too small
Costs – A few dollars per head is good, or a reasonable hire charge or bar split
Scene – Make sure it’s the right type of place for your genre
This is your best friend.
Pick a date and be ready to be flexible, then email them something like this;
Follow up after a week or so. If still no reply, either give them a call or let it go and find somewhere else.
A good way to do this, is by sending them a spreadsheet or template with the questions you want answered, ask them to fill in the blanks..
Booking confirmations – An email with the agreed terms in writing is fine, or for huge shows it would be worth considering a signed contract.
Sound Engineer & Lighting provided or not
PA & Backline provided or not
Soundchecks available if required, or line checks
Merch area and any associated costs
Is a door person provided
Load in times
Open & close times
See who is playing other shows, get familiar with that scene
Check if there are Facebook groups for that genre in that city
If you are a new upcoming band, then consider getting 1 or 2 bands as headliners above you if they seem to have proven crowd-pull
Contact them – Send a nice facebook message or email
Negotiating payments – Per head door split is easiest and fairest. Some local bands are incredibly nice and will offer you to keep their payment because you’re touring on a budget. Sometimes the venues will take care of it and have a set payment for bands and arrange the cash distribution.
Negotiating set times – Most local bands are happy with half an hour or so. Also allow for changeover times between sets. Something like this usually works;
Doors – 8pm
Band 1 – 8.15pm to 8.45pm
Band 2 – 9.05pm to 9.35pm
Band 3 – 9.50 to 10.30pm
Band 4 – 10.50pm to 11.40pm
Curfew – 12
Print these out and stick around the venue. Tell the bands they cannot go over their end time, if they start late that doesn’t mean they can finish late because it affects the bands after them.
Worksheet created by you, sent to the bands and venue nice and early
Set times printout for sound guy and around venue
Stage plot & tech specs for sound guy
Touring overseas? You’ll also need to check VISA requirements. This is an episode for another day.
Templates, examples and guides are available in the BandTools database, to access visit our Patreon page to subscribe!