The 5 Biggest Do’s and Dont’s of Touring…

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Plan plenty of fairly local tours in your area, the California coast, the New York area, Chicago and the Midwest – wherever you happen to be.  It can be hard for everyone in the band to get away for a whole week, but you can get plenty done in two or three days if you have one or two shows booked for Friday, Saturday and Sunday each.


Play shows that haven’t been hyped in the area at all.  Call ahead and get local record stores to put fliers on their bulletin boards and posters on their walls. If you have a fan base there, get some fans to promote your act in exchange for being on the guest list or whatever. Fans are a band’s greatest allies.


Bring a cooler stocked with food from home, or you’ll spend tons of cash eating out and waste plenty of time, besides. There’s always fast food, of course, that’s gross.


Lose track of time at any moment. Every band on tour – even a short tour – ends up running around like crazy looking for a Guitar Center so Johnny can get his strings. That’s nonsense. Watch your watch. If you’re late for curtain call, word gets around and you can find getting shows in the area harder to get.


Get contracts for each show faxed to you if you’re going on an extended tour. The contract should include guaranteed pay in case the show is canceled so you aren’t stranded in Kentucky without cash for gas.


Leave without enough money for the whole trip if you can help it. Most bands get their money from show to show, but this is more stressful than one might think and almost always causes problems.  Still, DON’T let that stop you from going if that’s how it has to be!


Have a AAA card (or the non-American equivalent of the Auto Club of America). You’d think this would be obvious, but bands get stuck on the side of the road in the desert all the time – all the time.


Be afraid to befriend and ask favors of fans if they’re amenable. You can save tons of money crashing on people’s floors rather than cramming into a single motel room. Lots of times they’ll even cook for the band.


Become amateur show promoters, yourselves.  Getting two shows in one day is hard unless there are daytime festivals going on. A festival with 5-10 local bands playing in a parking lot is way easier to set up than people think, and they brings loads of people together. When you get good at it, you can even stock the band fund like this. Why not, right?


Forget to take tons of pictures. Touring is one of the best things that can happen to a person and you’ll remember it forever. Those pics will probably be more important to you one day than your high-school yearbook.


Guest post by Sean McCauley of MondoTunes Music Distribution.  Send them a postcard when you get someplace remote (they have a collection).

Photo taken from a real life Ari Herstand tour.

5 Responses

  1. half baked

    touring? what’s that? is it similar to complaining on a website’s comments section about how i don’t make enough money from spotify?

  2. Last decade

    Faxed? Record stores? Take photos for the memories? Aw shucks. How about take photos for Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Keep the engagement with your fans real time. That’s how you continue the momentum.

    Was this pulled from a How-To handbook from the 90s? This is as out of touch as MondoTunes distro service.

  3. Mr Rock Star of the 80's

    Get local record stores to put fliers on their bulletin boards and posters on their walls ? What year are you referring to !

  4. anon

    Is this a joke? Sleep on a stranger’s floor and have them cook for you? Maybe they’ll let me see their meth lab in the basement.

  5. CrowfeatheR

    This was great advice in the 1980’s when bands actually got guarantees and there was such things as this record store bulletin board he described. The record store bulletin board was the hipster blog of the 1980’s. Touring these days in an environment of oversaturated promoting, stretched out thin between platforms of communication and pay to play arrangements with vampire like music clubs, touring is a great way to lose money or have a really weird vacation.