Booking Your Own Tour: Tips for DIY Musicians

One of the things that agents and managers look for when deciding to take on an artist is that s/he has a touring history.

That’s because a successful tour typically proves that you can promote your art effectively, attract an audience, and withstand the stress and surprises of a tour.

But what if you’re a musician who’s trying to do it all on your own? No booking agent, no manager, no PR person.

Going on tour can feel completely overwhelming.

How do you plan a tour? Who do you reach out to? What are the common pitfalls to look out for?

Today we’re sharing our tips.



Choose Your Region(s)

If you’re just starting out, there’s no need to go on a lengthy cross-country or international tour.

To begin, you need to figure out your anchor date (more on this in an upcoming post).

The regions you choose can depend on a few factors:

Stay close to home

It’s easier (and sometimes smarter) for on-the-rise artists to stay local for a few reasons.

First, it’s a good way to learn how to promote your show and bring in an audience. After all, you can rely heavily on friends, family, and your fellow musicians to help get the word out.

Touring locally can also be more economical and predictable (in terms of travel and weather), as well as create an overall feeling of familiarity during a time that can be stressful and overwhelming.

Use your network

If you’d like to have an anchor date outside of your region (in order to really “go out on the road”) think about the places where you have a connection or base of support.

A good place to start is looking at your personal history and network. Did you go to college or grad school in a different town than where you live now? Where do you have concentrations of family and friends?

By looking at your network, you might have a better sense for where you can make the case that you can draw an audience. Your network might even help you find the right venue for your concert.

Meet your audience where they are

Different regions attract different types of audiences, so deliberately travel to where there would be a demand for what you’re offering.

For instance, if your program is more edgy or experimental, you might fit better in the cultural landscape of the major metropolitan areas on the east or west coast, whereas if your program is more traditional, it could play well in smaller towns. Of course these are generalizations, but it is useful to think about where your artistry will resonate.

Choose Your Venues

After you’ve decided on your region, you want to make sure that you find the right venues for your performance.

Again, there are a few things to keep in mind when searching for places to ensure that you choose what’s best for your sound and audience.

Keep your “technical specs” in mind

Every performance has different needs — ensembles need a larger stage, multimedia shows need a projector and/or screens, solo performers might require a more intimate space.

Not every venue will fit your needs, so get clear about the specifications you require, so use your requirements as a guide when creating your list of potential venues.

Know your venue’s mission

Once you’ve narrowed your list of venues to those who have the technical specs you require, it’s time to get to know each venue in terms of its mission and the type of audience it attracts.

To start, visit the presenter’s website, and explore the Contact or About pages. Here, you can learn about the artistic team (who will likely make the decision to host your performance or not) as well as more about the venue itself.

Reach out to your dream list

By now, you should have your final list of venues to reach out to, what we call your dream list.

That means it’s time to reach out and pitch your performance!

Yes, it can be scary to put yourself out there. But the good news is that you’ve done your research so the venues you’re reaching out to should be a good fit for what you do. That’s half the battle!

Plus, when you approach these venues with a plan, it shows that you’ve done your research, and that you aren’t just calling every venue aimlessly, which presenters appreciate and respect.

You’ve done everything you can to prepare yourself for a yes, so it’s time to go for it.


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