I toured a lot in the band that I was in from the mid 90’s to 2002. We were indie and everything was self financed and all of us were broke!
- 1st you gotta have a reason to tour. If you already have an album out and you want to promote it thats great but if you don’t have radio or other promotion in the places you want to tour you are wasting your time and money.
- Plan your tour at least 4 to 6 months in advance and promote the places you will be playing. Get a street team. Give kids some free stuff and have them flyer the crap out of national concerts in your genre of music constantly for a month before you play there.
- You gotta make real good friends with the bands you play with on the road because they will get you future gigs and let you stay at their house and use their shower. Don’t expect to live like rockstars. We were lucky to get a hotel room. Most of the time we slept on the floor of a band member’s house. There were many times 5 of us slept in our broke-ass 1977 GMC Vandura with all of our equipment at a gas station or truck stop. We even got to sleep on the stage at a club we were playing at once. For a tight budget load up on canned foods, bread and PB&J.
- To make money put on an excellent show, get in with a popular local band and sell as much merchandise as possible. It is very hard almost impossible to even break even if you are on a self financed tour unless you are extremely popular. Many clubs don’t pay that much (if anything) and you’ll be lucky if they feed you.
- We got a steady fan base by repeat touring. We went back every two to 3 months and kept them updated with (now the old school technique) mailed newsletters. We sent them stickers and other promotional things. Another way to get a steady fan base is radio/internet promotion.
The whole idea of touring when you’re an indie band is to broaden your fan base because self financed touring is not an easy thing at all. You have to be extremely dedicated and believe in your music to do it. If you expect to make a profit right away you better not bother. Getting a bunch of people really digging your tunes is a lot more rewarding than getting money from a club. It is a nice bonus though.
(Cliff – www.bandmix.com/cliff78)