Every serious musician knows that touring comes with its fair share of challenges, but that nebulous space of time between when a band arrives at the venue and when they begin their set is one of the less talked about hassles of being on the road all the time. If your drive between shows is short, you could be spending anywhere from 4-8 hours a day waiting for your show to start. With that amount of time at stake, it’s important to get the most out of your days on tour. Here are a few suggestions:
Pick up some remote work
Unless the financial state of you and your band members is going exceptionally well, you might want to consider picking up some remote work in your spare time on tour. If you’ve got a laptop and way to connect to the internet, then you’ve got a way to help sustain yourself on the road. Depending on your unique talents and experience level, you could find remote work in graphic design, writing, marketing, coding, and other fields of industry. And while some musicians are certainly bound to groan a bit when they think of doing “real work” on tour, remember that tour isn’t a vacation. If you want to make it work over the long-term, you’ll have to find ways to pay the bills, and remote work is a great way to do it.
Make time for writing music
Yeah, this advice might seem a bit obvious, but when faced with the choice to use spare time creating music or drinking in the van before shows on tour, lots of musicians opt for the latter. If you can make a habit of taking an hour or two out of each day on tour to write music, you’ll probably see a lot of strong returns in your songwriting output. Rather than giving into the malaise so often associated with being on the road for extended periods of time, try breaking up your day by writing some music in the venue or in your van. Depending on your main instrument, this might not be possible, but songwriting software on your computer makes it possible to be productive no matter what instrument you play.
Invest time in maintaining relationships at home
Many a solid relationship has suffered under the weight of musicians being too busy touring to maintain their relationships at home. When you have extra time before your shows, consider making a routine of using that time to connect with loved ones back home. Again, obvious advice, but it’s so easy not to do this and relationships can become heavily strained as a result.
Use that time to take care of yourself
One of the reasons touring is so difficult is because it usually upends a person’s routine in such monumental ways. Everything from sleep and diet to finances and career routines are rearranged or removed altogether on tour unless you’re lucky to be a thriving career musician who makes a living on the road. It’s a good idea to use time before tour to take care of yourself. Get some sleep, go take a walk or find a local gym and get some exercise. The world is your oyster when you’ve got a few hours to spare on tour.
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.