I can already feel it. The air slowly beginning to change, the crisp leaves falling under my feet, the smell of apple cider donuts and caramel apples. At least, that’s what I’m dreaming of as I write this in 80 degrees, high humidity weather in the middle of the summer. But hey, we have to start planning for our favorite seasons sooner rather than later right?! And when that season just happens to also include a tour—be it long or short—the time to prepare isn’t a month before, it’s an entire season before! That way you can make sure you get your routine down, your bags packed, and your itinerary sorted.
But what if you’re struggling with where to go? We’ve scoured towns and cities across the US to find those with a significant base of music enthusiasts, so even if your fan base is a little light in a certain area, you’re bound to find some new fans.
Ithaca is one of the best college towns you could hope to tour in, and the music scene is just one of the reasons. It’s a beautiful area surrounded by water and rolling hills, but it also just happens to be a popular spot for touring bands because of its plethora of venues, and the burgeoning college scene. It’s also home to venues, which help emerging artists get their start and book shows.
I don’t need to tell you how iconic Nashville is for country music and singer-songwriters, but it’s also a fantastic stop for artists in rock, pop, hip-hop, and every genre in between. There are a ton of venues and opportunities for playing out, which can sometimes spell competition, but in this case, it means an abundance of opportunities to partner up with an established band in the area and get in front of new fans
New Orleans, LA
New Orleans is, of course, incredibly well known for its history and ties to jazz, but the reality is it’s an amazing stop for any band. Not only is it filled with venues to try out and culture to absorb, but it doubles as a bit of a vacation as much as a tour stop. It’s always nice to be able to mix a little bit of free time in with your tour stops!
With strong roots in the riot grrrl movement, Olympia is well known for being home to female-fronted bands of the 90s, and it carries those grunge sounds in its legacy today. While punk, electronic, and metal reigns supreme here, you can find venues for almost every genre, including tons of house show options, which will give your tour a more intimate, exclusive feel.
We couldn’t make this list without including Austin. With a large student presence, Austin has a thriving music scene, and a loyal community that sees its musicians supporting one another. Being such a mecca for music and the college scene, this is a prime spot to tour, especially if you’re still building your audience in the area.
Asheville, North Carolina
What’s great about Asheville is even though it’s suitable for any genre, it has a heavy focus on an eclectic array of Americana and folk, being in the mountainous region that it is. With over 80 venues around town, (including a car dealership that’s been turned into a music venue!), odds are you’ll be able to land the perfect spot to play. There are even a few all-ages venues, so you can reach as many fans as possible
While it might be surprising to see VT make the list, there’s a major sense of community around Vermont’s cities that makes it a really special place to visit. Not only that, being that it’s a bit smaller and a bit more rural means that the college kids in town are a lot more likely to go out to a show than say, the college kids in NY or Boston. That tight-knit community paired with surrounding colleges make for a great place to stop on tour.
I can’t even begin to cite how many incredible pop-punk bands have come out of Florida, and notably, this area. With strong roots in punk, Gainesville boasts a healthy underground punk scene. However, there’s plenty of room for other genres, including everything from experimental to country.
I actually grew up within 30 minutes of Lowell, and I have to say that while Boston, which is about 30-40 min from Lowell, has its fair share of live music opportunities, there’s something really special about the way Lowell’s music scene bands together. There’s a lot of strength in a variety of genres here from rock to singer-songwriter, as well as several really incredible venues.
Being so close to the colleges, puts it in a prime spot for turnout, especially since its just far enough from the city that most students aren’t going out to Boston every night.
The Twin Cities, MN
I couldn’t decide between Minneapolis and St. Paul, so here we are. It’s no secret that some of the most well-known artists came from this area.
But did you know the city actually has a thriving rap scene as well as a robust indie rock and hip-hop scene? Talk about diversity of genres (plus, there’s a lot of really fun restaurants and candy stores so you can totally splurge on your off days)
With venues of all sizes, and colleges surrounding the Twin Cities, Minneapolis and St. Paul should definitely make your list.
So, where do you think you’ll land on your next tour? Will it be Nashville? Austin? All of the above? Where will your next tour take you?
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.