5 Things To Expect On Your First DIY Tour

If you’re a regular reader of the ReverbNation blog or are just an experienced musician, you already know how unpleasant touring can be for musicians at any level. But there’s something unique and story-worthy when a young band sets out to play a tour they booked themselves for the first time. DIY touring is brutal work but is also the type of stuff that transforms inexperienced musicians into confident performers. For the young and inexperienced, here’s five things to expect on your first DIY tour:

Little to no pay

I know, I know. It’s not about the money, right? Yes, but money is essential for stuff like buying food and filling up your gas tank on tour. You might get lucky with money on your first DIY, but odds are that you won’t. Venues are also businesses, not just buildings with cool names that want to help new bands fulfill their dreams. Most smaller venues pay bands an amount that depends on how many people they bring through the door. If you’re not bringing people to your shows on your first tour, then you won’t make much money. But rather than letting this deter you, it’s best to save money ahead of time and view the tour as an investment more than anything else.

Empty rooms and questionable venues

If this is your first time touring, then you should expect to play anywhere that will have you as well as sparse shows. This is the whole “paying your dues” part of building a music career, and boy is it not for everybody. Driving all day to play to no one can be crushing, but if you wait to tour until you’ve got guarantees of packed shows, you might be waiting forever. And then there’s the music venues. Inexperienced bands typically play venues like coffee shops, community centers, DIY venues and, well, any place not cool or popular enough to bring in heavily followed musicians. Yes, it can be rough, but it can also be incredibly fun with the right attitude. Don’t expect much in terms of sound quality at these venues.

Use Gig Finder to connect you to the best possible venues and clubs for you

Less-than-ideal sleeping accommodations

If you or a bandmate is flush with cash, then you can probably swing a hotel room on tour every night. But paying for accommodations gets expensive real quick, and most new bands won’t be able to swing it. This means you’ll probably have to sleep in some rough places––your car, the sound guy’s living room, etc. DIY touring is sort of a young person’s game––wow, I sound incredibly old saying that––, so make sure to expect much less sleep than you’re used to getting before setting out.

Priceless inspiration and experience

DIY touring is basically a right of passage for new bands. It gives musicians experience not just playing music but also interacting with fans and the chance to forge new relationships in music that can last a lifetime. It’s the best and worst thing in the world simultaneously and can tell you clearly and quickly if music is something you really want to do with your life. What you’ll pay for in money and time and frustration you’ll get back tenfold in memories and life experience.

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.

Krissy5 Things To Expect On Your First DIY Tour


Join the conversation
  • Sista Otis - February 13, 2019 reply

    Go out as a solo or duo until you build an audience that can offord a band or play big tourist areas with built in summer crowds. Don’t go on nationwide tour, first conquer your reigion and build from there, you shouldn’t be driving more the two to four hours a day, how many venues did you pass on the way to that gig 3 states away? Stay away from big cities, L.A. Nashville NYC already have thousands of musicians who aren’t making money, why would anyone pay a door fee to see unknown you. NEVER pay to play! Small towns appreciate out of area acts, when you sell out your country towns, then announce your big city date and invite all your small town fans, they’ll be so happy for you and help you fill that big city venue up. Being a working musician is a JOB, treat it as such. If you’re playing music to become famous, you’re an idiot.

  • Robbie Bible - February 14, 2019 reply

    I’m a older Gospel jazz singer. That was helpful! Thanks.

  • Jonny Boston - February 14, 2019 reply

    It can indeed be a tough road, but we all have to start somewhere. Be encouraged to keep going! Blessings!

  • Sheylyn Jaymes - February 14, 2019 reply

    Playing for “exposure” DOESN’T pay the expenses and anyone that wants you to play for free (except legit charities) has no respect for the music industry. If one hires a band or group and they’re that bad pay them anyway then just don’t hire them again and don’t give them a good reference. There’s a great saying that I totally love. QUALITY…is like buying oats…if you want nice, clean, fresh oats you must pay a fair price. However, if you can be satisfied with oats that have already been through the horse…THAT COMES A LITTLE CHEAPER.

  • ken bruno - February 15, 2019 reply

    All Good Advice. Conquer your Local Market if for no other reason than to get Tight as a Band, then make your larger arena in ever growing wider circles from home. Know this, the Expensive part of being a Band is what you spend your money on when You’re NOT Playing. Just Driving around and Waiting can get Very Expensive.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.