Going on Tour
Small Disclaimer: Everything proceeding this could end up being nothing but lofty dreams and one of those crazy ideas that a group of teenage guys came up with. However, I want to see if it's actually possible and what we would have to do to pull it off, so that we don't miss out on it if there is any chance.
I'm in highschool, in a band with some friends that I've been playing with for about a year now. We all love playing and get along really well, and we want to do something with this band and with music in general. So, the crazy idea is this- we want to go on tour after we graduate. I know there's not much logic in this idea, when looked at from a business or financial perspective. It's silly to even think of it that way, because in all honesty it would be a glorified road trip with friends, on which we would have gigs along the way. A way to gain some experience, see some sights and overall have some fun before we get stuck in one place. We don't expect to get rich or famous or play to sold out crowds in stadiums across the country.
We haven't decided yet, it was sort of mentioned after a rehearsal the other day and we think it would be awesome if we could pull it off.
So onto the questions:
Have you gone on tour with your band? What kind of band? How long was the tour, and when was it? How far did you go, how many places did you play? How much do you usually make on a gig out of town without promise of drawing a crowd (or as an opening act)? What kind of vehicle would be best for hauling gear and bandmates at the same time? What gear would we need to bring with us (is there anything odd you would recommend having, or anything that you'd suggest not bringing)?
Obviously it's a lot of questions- you don't have to answer all or any of them. Even if you just have some advice for someone in my shoes that you think would help make the decision and follow through with it (or not follow through it, if that's what you advise), we'd love to hear it.
Note: If you say don't do it, and your reasoning is 'music doesn't make money anymore, go to college, get a degree and a real job and play music on the side', then believe me I've thought of that. After this, if we are to do it after all, we'd all be settling in one town (either home or a larger city nearby-ish) to keep playing, gigging, going to college and working- so we have that in the plans regardless. We just want to get out and do something before we all become too deeply rooted to go do something crazy (as in get married, have kids, start working full time jobs etc).
With all that said (thank you, if you actually managed to read this far), any advice, tips, warnings, past experiences, etc would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!
My punk band goes on tour once a year during the summer for about 4-6 weeks at a time and it's a blast. Best advice I can give is to start networking with promoters all over the country or find a booking agent. This relieves the headache of having to do all the promoting yourself.
Have money put aside for food, lodging and gas. Make friends and crash on people's floor to save on hotels. You will be lucky to break and you will prob loose money but that all depends on how good you guys really are and if you guys are worth the money the promoter/club is paying.
Since you guys are underage you will be excluded from most bars which limits the amount of shows you guys can play.
You guys will need a healthy running van or some sort of trailer set up. Have money put aside to fix the van when it breaks down on you. Have decent equipment and don't be that band borrowing gear all the time from the other bands. Be creative and have some cool shirts and your music available for fans for extra $$$.
It's a lot of work and even painful sometimes but if really love playing you will enjoy the experience and never look back. Good luck
I wud say to definitely discuss your expectations with everyone so that there is no illusion what your trying to achieve. And if its a glorified road trip then leave it at that. It's more fun than you've had so far but two months in a van will let you know if you really love these guys or not. Avoid fast food when you can. Four straight days of pizza hut and taco bell can lead to really wicked gas and the first two farts are funny but an hour of Rodneys flatulence will become annoying. If you have room bring a small grill. Camp if/when you can. Its a helluva lot cheaper than hotels and five to a room sux. Space out your gigs if you can afford to so you can see the countryside. The "stick & move" method works but you will burn out quickly. If you really have no plan yet I wud suggest going out 250/300 miles & circle your hometown. That way our not to far out when your trailer axle starts to "slough" (look it up, it happens) Make sure you have plenty of shirts to sell with a catchy logo or print. Tell folks you'll knock a dollar off the shirt price if they "like" you on Facebook but watch them do it from their phone. You'll make more money off merch than anything. Unless your playing covers which I don't think you are. Anyways make up lottsa stickers and litter wherever you go with them. Put them in places they will be seen daily. That way when you come back thru they'll remember your name from the bus stop or the free air pump at The Flying J. Also stickers are free to hot chix. Try to make your trip in one progressive direction. Don't "double handle" the road. Find somebody with an RV. That rocks. Also bring somebody with you and not your girlfriend or your stoner buddy Rick. Bring someone slightly responsible that is halfway knowledgeable with circuitry. Its hard to do it by yourself but the information age will assist. When I started out mini touring phones and cameras were two separate objects and The Web hadn't reached its zenith yet. Have a backup plan or at least discuss a plan for whatever can go wrong. Wear a condom. They are practically free nowadays. Let us know how it goes. http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/the-di...de-to-touring/
I suggest you do a regional tour....Basically stay within two or three states of your hometown...
you will need a vehicle that is capable of seating 5 people plus equipment or something that has the torque and power to pull a small cargo trailer...
Network with bands via bandcamp, facebook, myspace, instagram, twitter, reverb nation.....anyway you can in the areas you wish to play.
have hard copies of good recordings available or set up a website and charge or a download code...
have t-shirts available in a variety of sizes most large and extra large...
most of your money will come from Merchandise as opposed to gig pay...
Don't know what kind of music you play or what part of the country your in....but expect to make anywhere from $100.00 (average) to $300.00 total per show
camp when possible.....sleep on floors when possible......buy lots of canned food or stuff that won't spoil easily...spam, peanut butter, spaghettios, etc.
start planning at least six months ahead of time
Have money saved up for emergencies and Gas!! wouldn't hurt to have a back up CC just in case!!!
Most clubs will have a P.A. so you will need a decent sized bass amp (350 watts or so) and two basses,and a good D.I...minimum of a 2x12 100 watt guitar amp and at least a five piece drum kit...
Baby wipes. Yes, really. Search it with 'touring.'
Get a Web enabled video camera. Save to Google cloud or Apple or whatever. Do this. Trust me.
Van + trailer. No stickers or other hints that it's a band vehicle or you'll get robbed. ROBBED. It happens all the time.
Do it. Friggin do it. I'm pushing 50 and never had the opportunity (well, I DID but I blew it- important people wanted me but I was wasted - don't do this ).
Now I do and I can't.
Do it. You literally have nothing to lose. Go for it, be sober (really, I mean that - getting wasted on the road might kill you) and have a ball. It will be great some days, and will suck other days, and you'll come back with memories that can't be had any other way.
Good luck, please share with us, and have a ball.
Going on Tour
I'm 43. When I graduated uni in 1993 did a non music related fun road trip tour of US and Canada for 4 weeks. Was an awesome time.
DO IT. Just make sure you all know it's for fun first and foremost, and don't expect to be rock stars instantly. Have fun!
You will likely be unable to take that time again when you get older, and so do it now.
Go for it! Report back your success/failure to this group on a weekly basis.
College is over-rated! (I know I have 2 degrees. ;-) )
Yes, play locally before you go on tour.
If you have no gigging experience a tour is useless
and just a dream.
I'm not saying do it but if I had the chance at your age ..I would ;)
You sound like your have a good head on your shoulders and kind know what to expect. For the most part is a glorified road trip and a bucklist check off ..at least for us old guys.
I have never toured since I'm an old fart but I know quite a few who have and do.
Believe it or not some of the people who still tour here are in my age range. How they do it and why? I have no idea.
Since you are young you need to ask questions like you are here and don't expect much.
I knew a band who toured 3 times all over the states. The last was from Midwest to Cali and back. They needed money wired to them to make it back and came home broke with nothing to show for it. That band has never toured again since the member's had learned the hard way. Today they play local and work day jobs.
I know a guy who travels and tours to an island every year but lives with family and has never owned a car..and he's not young.
Another very good singer/songwriter formed a great band that toured very hard for 5 years. They got press, label support and even an album funded for the tour. They toured and played with people in the national scene along the way. They did nothing and came home only to see the band break up and go their own ways.
Today they all play local in different groups and work real jobs. The BL who is a very gifted musician who I'm a fan of told me he has given up trying to make it and is sick of music for the most part.
I played a gig with some younger hippster dudes traveling form NY that had to sleep in their cars in sub zero temps while 'playing thru ' our area. They took the $50.00 we gave them for the 20 or so who seen us all play but it was not enough to get them a room :rolleyes:
I spoke to a van load of overheated hairy metal guys who had a 7 hour hang till their evening show one summer at a local club I was eating lunch by. they had nowhere to go and hoped for a good crowd that night to get gas money (Was not going to happen). They all sat in the van with all doors and windows open in the parking lot on a 90+ degree day eating 2 day old pizza till load in....stuck.
I asked how the tour was going and they said.."don't" :)
Overall all the folks I know that have toured have come home broke and had nothing to show for it. Without a manager, agent or label support its a long cold and cruel world for Indie touring bands. As I said I have never done it but have seen it allot and know of those who do/did. If I had the right setup and was young..why not? Sounds like more stories for the grandchildren someday :)
Thanks for the advice guys, much appreciated!
I'm a codger and I say do it.
But I don't think you would be much of a codger if you said to stay home and save for college. Codgers for touring!
The "touring" I did back in the day was long weekend roadtrips with gigs lined up. I like the 300 mile circle idea.
The last band I tried to 'make it' in wound up in Miami. I was flat broke, had to borrow gas money to get home, my car engine blew on the way back to DC, and I had to find a ride share home. I wouldn't trade those memories for anything, even the bad ones.
I seem to be finding more gray/white hairs not only on my head but IN MY EYEBROWS, WHAT. And I'm relatively young. All I can say is, I kinda came late to the game due to being a bit of an undisciplined, scattered, totally freakin' lost mess for most of my adolescence and early 20's. If I'd had a fraction of the drive and focus that you seem to have, God knows where I'd be with all of this now. I try not to think about it because what's the use, but really.
So, I think you need to plan things out and really figure out a budget and schedule, but beyond that, I think you should do it. College can wait. People can argue with me all they want, but please, with wealth of online options for education, it's really a different world now and it's not like it leads to steady employment in the job of your choice anymore anyway. That's not to say it's worthless but in the whole scheme of things, a "gap year" or less is negligible. Most "kids these days" use that year to fart around Europe and drink expensive wine...isn't it more productive to actively work towards a goal in one's life?
I mean dude, I went to three different high schools so it took me five years to graduate. But that extra year just kinda got lost in the shuffle of finding my bliss and putting together a portfolio so I could get into art school. I then went straight to art school where I nearly flunked out of my first year due to just not being able to handle the drastic change in lifestyle and culture. I pulled it together and started doing well in school and then graduated. Was it ultimately a decent experience for me? Sure, but once I graduated I hit the ground running and started working right away, albeit for not a lot of money and occasionally for free. In New York City. In the dead of winter. Must've been out of my mind. ;)
What I'm getting at is, do you know how often I wish I'd taken a big trip with friends or cut myself a break so that I could actually get to know myself a bit instead of just becoming a workaholic by the time I was barely old enough to drink? I learned plenty about keeping my nose to the grindstone and sacrificing everything so that I could do something I enjoyed and make money off it, but at great cost to my personal development and my social life. Your goal here seems to be two-fold in a way that I think is a really great idea: it allows you to hang with your friends and have a truly memorable experience, and it allows you to experience being on the road and developing yourself as a musician.
Lastly, I don't think this is as drastic a choice as it seems, and it sucks if people are making you feel guilty about setting aside your college education for what, a mere six months so you can do something that a lot of people envy? It's really just a matter of planning it well. You could even use the experience to write your college essay. There are so many opportunities available to us in the world these days. Take them when you can!
I've toured the UK a bunch of times. I'm not sure how applicable my advice would be in the US or wherever, but here it is anyway:
Get involved in your local scene. Play gigs, go to gigs, hang out with other people in bands. Start putting on shows yourself, and try and get out-of-town bands in to headline. That'll give you a few more contacts and you can start pulling in bands from further afield.
Then try and sort out gig swaps with other bands where you both put on a show in your own city. Try and share backline so you each only need to bring amp heads, pedals, instruments and cymbals/sticks. Means you can "easily" travel to out-of-town gigs in someone's car.
Get some merch made, especially t-shirts. Plenty of folk will buy a shirt but not a CD for some reason. Merch is what keeps petrol in the van in my experience.
Network with similar-sounding bands - buy their CDs, get chatting to them on Facebook and on forums.
Bottom line go in expecting little in return but memories are priceless..good ones that is :smug:
When I was 18 just out of High school I had no drive, no college plans and had just lost my steady girlfriend.
I played half decent guitar with an old buddy who took up drums. We sounded kind of like what the Black keys or White Stripes are today except we never felt we could be a real band without a bass player :hmm: Oh how times have changed.
Anyway.... we both saved that following summer to both jump in his van and head to LA to form a band and "make it big"
We figured the Van was shelter and let the rest roll..we were on a mission.
Well my buddy got busted that summer breaking into a house (long story) and the big move never came.
I often wonder what would of happened to those two dumb kids from the sticks if we would of done it. If you can do it ..do it..what the hell?
Since you guys are so the young the world is your oyster. You can put things to the test first if you like by getting summer gigs at a tourist/beach location over the summer. You'll find out if you can survive, and live with each other and still play together. It's one thing to be in a band at home and another to be living and working together with your bandmates. This will give an idea of what it's like to be around one another all the time.
A couple of thoughts from someone who has no relevant experience, just pulling together from things I've read...
Do not expect to make any money touring. Not until you've been doing it a few years and have some music out. See the thread here and the link therein... http://www.talkbass.com/forum/f30/ma...t-way-1037928/
You're very young, though, so that's OK. You don't have bills to pay or children to feed. You can live on ramen and crash on friends' (or strangers', I suppose) couches.
I would also think about the comment about building up a presence on your local scene. I doubt you're going to get far with a plan to tour unless you have a base market you're reasonably well known in, and have the gigging experience to be able to put on a solid show. I assume you're talking about originals (not much call for touring cover bands). Write and record every chance you get, play out as much as you can. When you have an hour of GOOD songs you can probably join up with other bands on a tour. Two hours' worth, and a solid regional fan base, and you can tour on your own with others supporting you. Market market market.
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