Touring can be tricky for bands who haven’t found an audience. A solid national tour can help a band connect with new listeners, garner good press, and develop important connections with other musicians. But for some artists, sticking to shorter tours within the region of their hometown is a better option. If you’re not sure whether you should be touring regionally or nationally, here are five things to consider:
If you and your bandmates are broke, embarking on a month-long national tour is probably not a good call. We don’t think about this much as musicians, but touring is risky. Bands on tour have to deal with things like their vans breaking down or their equipment getting stolen all the time. Not having the resources to deal with any problems that might crop up on tour could spell doom for your band. If you can’t afford a long national tour, consider staying closer to home.
The music you’re promoting
If you haven’t released new music in a while, devoting the time and resources it takes to tour nationally is probably not worth your time. You can always develop new material at shows in your hometown or in your region. Unless your band is doing exceptionally well, touring is probably not going to be something that pays you very much––if you do well enough to break even in the first place. Your band runs the risk of burning out if you tour too much, so save the long national efforts for when you’re promoting something new.
Lots of bands start touring with no strategy or goals for their music. If this is you, turn the van around and head home. You’ve got a lot you need to talk about before you waste your money and time on the road. The touring strategy you should develop takes things into account like trying to play in the cities that are listening to your music the most, miles between shows, and the goals you have for your music. Talking about this will help you decide whether you want to tour regionally or nationally.
Your geographic location
Depending on where you’re based out of, touring regionally might not be an option. For example, bands on the east coast have dozens of major cities in their region, but those from the midwest are isolated. A week-long tour might be great for a band living in a populated area, but it just won’t work for bands in other regions.
The long game
What’s the bigger picture when it comes to your music? Do you want to find a label or are you just interested in connecting with more listeners? These are important questions to ask when it comes to deciding whether you want to tour regionally or nationally. The long game should always be on your mind because touring without big, meaningful goals just isn’t worth it. Having a conversation about your long-term musical goals will help you decide how and where you want to tour.
Patrick McGuire is a writer, musician and human man. He lives nowhere in particular, creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.