If you’re at all serious about trying to pursue a meaningful career in music, you most likely already know how important it is to tour and build connections on the road. Unless you’re remarkably lucky, fans and the music industry alike won’t start to take you seriously until you’ve spent a considerable amount of time performing outside of your hometown. But while touring is hugely important, it doesn’t mean that you should say yes to every touring opportunity. Here are four horrible touring scenarios you should absolutely avoid:
Touring without new music
If it’s been more than a couple of years since you’ve released new music, touring is most likely going to be a bad and fruitless venture. Bands sometimes do this when the songwriting well has run dry and it can easily turn into a bad situation. Touring is incredibly hard and often thankless work that should only be done when there’s something real to gain. So rather than literally spinning your wheels out on the road touring, if you haven’t worked on music for a long time, you need to get back into the studio and get the songwriting process up and running again.
Traveling with multiple bands
Touring gets mighty complicated when more than a few bands are thrown into the mix. Everything from locking down accommodations to booking shows is infinitely harder to do when multiple bands are committed to touring together. This, of course, doesn’t apply to bands who’ve achieved a certain level of success and notoriety, but for new and smaller acts, going it alone is a much better bet than involving multiple bands on tours.
Touring with no money
Easier said than done, right? But the truth is that the better you financially prepare for tours, the better your shows, sanity, and band relationships will be. There’s two ways you’ll need to think about money when it comes to touring, and that’s in terms of personal finances and band finances. In order to not go hungry on the road, you should make every effort to start tours with enough money to get you through your shows. But when it comes to the band-side of things, money gets more complex. You’ll need to have some sort of savings or plan of what to do with not only the money you may earn from shows but also how to pay for things when disaster strikes (the van breaks down, your equipment gets stolen, etc).
Playing at bad venues
Pretty much anything can be a venue these days, right? Bands often have better tours when they play house shows than when they perform at big venues. But in order to make sure you have meaningful tours, it’s super important that you make sure the venues you’re playing at have some sort of legitimacy. Communication during the booking process is key here. Does the venue have a soundsystem? Is there some sort of built-in crowd or is the venue in question located in a strip mall in the suburbs? Ask lots of questions, and if you’re new and trying to prove yourself, don’t just play at any venue that’ll have you. Booking a tour filled with shows at bad venues won’t be worth your time.
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.