Try being a serious musician long enough and you’ll soon see that nothing about writing, performing, and recording music is simple or straightforward. Whether it’s setting up to track the acoustic guitar on a song or performing to a packed venue, if something can go wrong it often does and sometimes in spectacular fashion. In case you’re not familiar, this idea is called Murphy’s Law, and it’s especially prevalent when it comes to bands touring. Even when things run smoothly, touring can be a challenge for artists, but if you find yourself unprepared for the hidden costs of touring, you could be in for some major problems.
When you and your band talks about going on tour, the last thing you probably think of is vehicle maintenance, speeding tickets, toll costs and parking meters, but those things are, or can be, an unavoidable part of touring. And failing to prepare for these hidden costs could cost you more than just money.
If you’ve been working hard to create meaningful music for years, performing in major music meccas like New York City and Los Angeles for the first time probably seems like a dream. But in these major cities especially, it can often take a significant financial investment to pay for tolls and parking. And if you’re touring with a big van and a trailer like most bands do, not planning ahead in advance can cost you not only lots of money but also unneeded stress and distraction.
This sort of stress is exactly the kind of thing that can distract performers and ruin shows. Most bands can deal with coughing up a little extra cash for a prime parking spot before a show, but eliminating stressful situations before an important show you’ve driven all day to get to is a whole other issue. Dealing with and preparing for the hidden costs of touring ahead of time will help you to be focused, calm and in control during an important performance.
But hidden costs of touring can be emotional, not just financial.
Unless you’re extremely lucky, a major hidden cost of touring regularly is being away from a job that provides you with your major source of income. But hidden costs of touring can be emotional, not just financial. If you’re married or have kids, being away from family regularly is a often a major strain.
So, how do you face these challenges and preapre for the hidden costs of tour in advance to help put your mind at ease during performances? There’s no way to predict every challenge on tour, but making common sense plans to cope with financial and emotional strains ahead of time will help keep you prepared and focused. Touring is a huge investment of time and money, and if you’re not your best on stage during tour, then why even go in the first place? Remembering what your goals with Murphy’s Law in mind will help you better plan for whatever the road might throw at you.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.