Regardless of how big your tour may be, it's important that your manage your tour logistics carefully, or else sabotage your bands chances before it's even had a chance to get off the ground. Here we look at how you can optimize your tour logistics for maximum effectiveness.
Guest post by Anand Srinivasan of Hubbion
Big musical acts, for a lot of reasons, have people who manage their music tours for them. After all, there’s a lot of behind the scenes work that goes on before the band can show up and play. But if you’re just doing a few shows in a smaller area, you may want to DIY your tour. Professional tour managers can be expensive, and small, new bands aren’t usually racking in cash at their shows.
But if you don’t manage your logistics well on your music tour, you run the risk of giving your band a bad reputation and making it harder to book venues later. These tips will help you keep your band running smoothly as you move from venue to venue.
Acting as your own manager is doable, but it’s very different from being a member of the band. As a manager, you need to know how to talk to people. You need to be comfortable negotiating with venue managers, event organizers, and more. Know how to be polite, professional, and assertive as you work with different venues to make sure that you all get what you need.
Make a budget
Budgeting for a tour is trickier than it sounds. You might think you just need to pay for food and lodging for the band members, but you also need to consider fuel for transportation, payment for anyone helping with preparation and transportation of instruments, food and lodging for those people, and renting rehearsal space. To get an idea of what your budget should be, talk to a more experienced tour manager and find out what costs they tend to forget.
Also remember to pad your budget; if you have extra money set aside, you can always save it for later, but finding extra cash at the last minute can be a huge problem – and can force you into awkward cancellations. Avoid this!
Most smaller acts aren’t going to be going on a multi-city tour in Europe just yet, but for those who live close to the Canadian or Mexican border, going on an “international” tour might mean going to the next town over.
Make sure that you know what’s required for your band and your equipment to cross the border, and to get back. Know what’s legal, and what isn’t, and make sure you have any required permits arranged long before you get to the venue.
Be prepared to handle anything
When you’re the tour manager, you’re so much more than just the person who gets the venues on board and figures out where the band is staying for the night. You’re also the person who handles it when something got lost on the road, when one of the roadies doesn’t show up, when the food that you ordered doesn’t show up, and the one who figures out how the marketing is going to work from venue to venue. You are the catch-all person, and you’re going to have more on your plate than you thought.
This is why, even if a band can’t hire a professional tour manager yet, having someone not in the band working to organize the tour elements can be beneficial. The lead guitarist needs to be at sound check, not figuring out why no one has lunch yet.
Bands may love the excitement and power of tours, but after the events are all over and everyone is back home to rest, it’s important to take a hard look at whether or not the tour was a success. Compare the budget to the actual expenditures. Look at what happened to social media engagement, to sales, to website traffic. Consider how much growth the tour created.
Tours are often expensive affairs, and without a big name to draw in a crowd, they may not help most bands break even. Sometimes producing a high quality video to post on YouTube can be a better use of a band’s money.
On the other hand, a band might find that the tour greatly expanded their music and merch sales, that they made plenty of money on tour, and that it increased their social media engagement by a significant amount. In that case, planning another tour might be a great idea.
Without that assessment, there’s no way to know for sure. Looking at hard numbers isn’t everything, but it’s still an important factor.
If you’re considering going on tour, make sure to get your logistics in order so that the tour will be as smooth as possible. Know who’s going to be responsible for the different elements of the tour organization, and keep up to date on what’s going on. This will help you have an excellent experience on tour.
Anand Srinivasan is the founder of Hubbion