10 Steps to Easier Touring

Touring is a huge endeavor, even for experienced veterans. A music tour requires months of planning, saving, and contacting other bands, promoters, and venues – and making sure everyone in your act has the time off to go on tour plus the funds to pay for food, sundries, and amenities on the road (*cough*beer*cough*).

But effectively planning a tour doesn’t have to be immensely difficult or near-impossible, even when it seems so. Here are ten steps you can take to make touring easier so you can focus on playing music.

Tyler10 Steps to Easier Touring
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Ready Those Engines: How To Survive As A Performer At Sturgis Buffalo Chip

Ozzy Osbourne. Aerosmith. Zac Brown Band. Kid Rock. The Doobie Brothers. These are just a few legends who have performed at the world’s largest motorcycle festival, Sturgis Buffalo Chip, and this year 5 bad-ass ReverbNation bands will be selected to play at the nine-day festival. The Best Party Anywhere® is located three miles east of Sturgis, SD, on 600 scenic acres of open land. Sturgis isn’t like any other festival; audience members rev their engines to show their approval of an artist, there are nonstop bike races and art exhibitions, and even though you’ll run into people from all walks of life, there’s a huge sense of solidarity.

For an emerging band this can be quite a memorable experience, and that’s why we got the scoop from festival organizer, Daymon Woodruff, on some essential things every artist needs to know before heading to Sturgis Buffalo Chip: have few good covers in your arsenal, consider playing more than one night, read the Essential Guide, and most of all don’t be scared to get a little dirty and have A LOT of fun.

DaveReady Those Engines: How To Survive As A Performer At Sturgis Buffalo Chip
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One of the Best Showcases for Unsigned Bands: Camden Rocks Festival

What if you were given the opportunity to perform alongside punk legends The Damned, Orange Goblin, and Ruts/Ruts DC? How RAD would that be?!  Well, these are just a few of the bands headlining the 2017 Camden Rocks Festival on June 3, 2017. Camden Rocks Festival sees over 8,000 live music lovers along with agents, managers, A&R, and publicists take over Camden Town for the most rock n’ roll one day-er of the year.  With over 250 bands throughout 25 venues, Camden Rocks gives up-and-coming bands the chance to be heard – it’s manic and intimate all at once. We got with festival organizer Chris McCormack – formerly the driving force behind Creation Records ‘Britrock’ quartet 3 Colours Red and promoter behind Camden’s finest gig and club nights – to get an inside look at what goes down day of the festival, what he looks for when booking bands, and why Camden Town has long been the hub of the UK’s rock ‘n’ roll scene.

DaveOne of the Best Showcases for Unsigned Bands: Camden Rocks Festival
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The Best LA Music Venues

From venues full of musical history to a cemetery, our LA-based CONNECT Manager Sharyn rounded up a list of her all-time favorite venues in LA. Check out a show at one of these rad places the next time you’re in town.

This is one of my favorite venues in the country. Playing the Troubadour is a milestone for any artist. The room has an amazing vibe to it, in part because of its astounding history:  Elton John, James Taylor, Carol King and Tom Waits all started off there. Big name acts like Guns N’ Roses, Nine Inch Nails, The National, etc. have been known to do underplays. Troubadour always has great bands coming through, impeccable sound and if you’re tired of standing you can go watch the show from the row of church pews upstairs.

KevinThe Best LA Music Venues
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A Non-Definitive List of Nashville Music Venues

Are you new to the Nashville scene? Our Nashville-based CONNECT Manager Daren, who has lived in Music City for over a decade, rounded up a list of venues that are establishing the current music scene. Read on for the inside scoop.

I think it’s important when embarking on new territory, or maybe when needing a change of scenery, to forge ahead with a solid understanding of the lay of the land. While I do realize that this post exists within my bubble of the city I’ve lived and worked in for around 11 years, I think it’s important for bands, songwriters, and singer/songwriters to play Nashville. Music City cliché aside, there really is a ton of music (so much so that some people specifically seek out places without music) and a ton of people that support it, fans and industry included. This inevitably means there will need to be venues to support these artists. Below is my list of Nashville music venues that are establishing the current live music scene:

KevinA Non-Definitive List of Nashville Music Venues
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How to Book a Successful Tour: Tips from Former Booking Agent Sharyn Goldyn (Part I)

ReverbNation CONNECT artist manager (and former booking agent with The Windish Agency) Sharyn Goldyn lays out the ways that emerging artists can make the most out of their first tours. Read on for advice that will make your next (or first) tour a success.

What is the best way to begin planning a tour? What elements does a band need to consider?

It really depends on how much is going on with the artist and how much money they have to spend. Everyone has to start somewhere but to get the most out of your time on the road, it’s helpful for there to be some sort of story behind the artist: a new release, a few good reviews on blogs, a decent social media following, some sort of buzz like significant streams on Spotify, etc.

KevinHow to Book a Successful Tour: Tips from Former Booking Agent Sharyn Goldyn (Part I)
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How to Book a Successful Tour: Tips from Ground Control Touring’s Jim Romeo

Jim Romeo first began booking tours in 1990 as an assistant in an agency that booked some of the 90's biggest alternative acts like Sonic Youth, Dinosaur Jr , Liz Phair, and The Lemonheads. Jim later started his own agency — Ground Control Touring — and relocated to Carrboro, NC (just outside of Chapel Hill). Today, Ground Control represents some of the biggest names in indie rock and pop, including Belle & Sebastian, Grizzly Bear, Neutral Milk Hotel, Sleater-Kinney, Bright Eyes, Superchunk, She & Him, and Kurt Vile.

What is the best way to begin planning a tour? What elements does a band need to consider?

JimRomeo

Ground Control Touring’s Jim Romeo

A tour is generally planned around an album release, but not always. Typically a tour would start a little after the release date and initially start with larger cities first. Since this is usually the start of the band’s touring cycle, it is a good idea for the band to pace themselves a bit, as they will likely be looking to tour worldwide. In other words, if you’ve never toured before, or haven’t toured in awhile, you don’t want to get into touring with a month-long string of dates across the country. Start slow with a few out-of-town weekend runs and work your way up.

How does a band make money on tour? Should an artist be willing to lose money for the sake of touring?

When bands are first starting out it is hard to make money, there’s no way around that. So at the earlier stages, touring is more about promoting their music (and themselves) and trying not to lose too much. Keeping costs down is key. Staying at friends’ houses, touring with less gear to avoid renting a van, bringing merchandise to sell, doing a lot of free (or cheap) social media promotion for each show, etc.

KevinHow to Book a Successful Tour: Tips from Ground Control Touring’s Jim Romeo
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Booking Shows Locally: Tips From Venues and Talent Buyers

In my last post, I discussed the value of being a part of your own local music community. As a follow-up, I talked to a few venue owners and talent buyers to get their insights into how artists can get the most out of their local scene.

Be Good

Yes, this may be an obvious piece of advice. But you’d be surprised at how often artists spend more time worrying about things other than their music. Richard Sloven, talent buyer for the Knitting Factory – Brooklyn NYC  says:

Richard Sloven, Talent Buyer for The Knitting Factory

Richard Sloven, Talent Buyer for The Knitting Factory

“You can spend endless energy trying to come up with marketing gimmicks or spending money on PR, videos, recording, etc., but it doesn’t really mean anything if you aren’t good.”

Essentially, you need to be sure that your live product is as finely tuned as it can possibly be. None of the hard work spent promoting or packaging your music is worth a thing if you can’t capture someone’s attention in a live setting.
Mark Connor, talent buyer/owner for Slim’s and The Cave (Raleigh/Chapel Hill, NC) says:

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Mark Connor, Talent Buyer for Slim’s and The Cave (Photo © Ian Dunn)

“People see and hear music in many places in their lives, and if you aren’t special, then there won’t be much you can do to overcome that,”  

KevinBooking Shows Locally: Tips From Venues and Talent Buyers
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