Smart Touring: Six Keys To A More Lucrative Tour

 0001[UPDATED] Running a successful tour is all about effectively managing expenses, and as an up-and-coming artist, you're often at the mercy of the venues and may not have much leverage. But careful planning at the outset, and following these six tips can do wonders when it comes to finishing your tour in the black.


Guest post by Mike Wright, CEO of SongCast

The keys for a lucrative tour are all about managing your expenses. You’ll be paid a certain amount by the clubs/concert halls, and as an up-and-coming musician you likely don’t have much leverage power in negotiating higher fees. To protect your profits, you need to adjust your spending. Because if you end a tour “in the red” how likely are you to go on another tour?

Musicians that want to save money on their dream tour should follow these six tips:

  1. Bring your own food. Eating a can of beans in the hotel room isn’t likely the rock star lifestyle you envisioned, but bringing non-perishable foods can greatly cut down your food budget. Meals out are a massive expense on many tours, as each person can easily tally $60 a day or more. Make going out a treat, and drive down expenses by stocking up on easy road meals. Get everyone in the band to pack a metal water bottle and fill it up often. Spending ten bucks at every 7-11 will really add up after a three-month tour.
  1. 1Find last-minute hotel deals. You won’t come out ahead with last-minute bookings of flights or rental cars, but hotels can be had for a steal of a price. Wait until you’re nearing your destination and hop on sites such as Hotel Tonight or Expedia to find deals. You might be able to grab a four-star place with a pool for the price of the shady-looking three-star lodging across town.
  1. Travel smart. Gas costs can eat into your profits, so find a vehicle that gets decent mileage. Avoid a trailer unless you absolutely need the extra space because they will kill your MPG. Try to pack efficiently and get all the gear into a van or SUV that gets decent mileage.
  1. Hustle your merchandise. You should always have a box of merchandise on hand, including T-shirts and CDs. Even if you’re stopping at Dairy Queen for a Blizzard, you might encounter some fans, or even future fans. You might sell some merchandise and pick up a new fan who might be a paying customer at your next gig. If you do not have a designated merch seller at each show, then consider hiring a friend or fan at each city to help you with sales. Remember that merchandise will often be your main source of cash.
  1. Don’t drink at the bar. It’s tempting to have a few drinks before, during, or after a show, but remember that drinks are how clubs make money. The Blue’s Brother movie is a cautionary tale for singers who get stuck paying for a lot of alcohol. If you cannot perform onstage without one celebratory beverage, then BYOB for instant savings.
  1. Contact local media in advance. Local TV and radio stations are often looking to fill blocks of time. Call them in advance with a good story about your band, and then maybe they’ll do a quick segment. This gives you instant exposure, credibility that you can further build on social media, and can get more paying customers in the club door.

Of course, you want to tour to build a fan base, and there will be instances where you make the choice for exposure over money. But, but you can’t play for the fan base if you’re broke. You need profit to buy more equipment and gear so you can stay out “on the road” longer.

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