Touring can be really exciting. You get to see the world, meet new fans, and hang out with your bandmates for weeks or months on end. While it comes with the occasional struggle, it’s an integral part of building your fan base and growing your career as a serious musician.
If you’re a performing artist, how can you leverage this opportunity to earn money while on tour? Here are some ways to generate extra income while on the road:
Diversify your revenue streams on tour
You probably have a few ideas in mind, like selling tickets and merchandise. But let’s get more specific and see what else we can come up with. Here are a few to get you started:
There are musicians where you’re going, right? You can offer group lessons on the road through apps and social media groups where people are looking to get started, or to your fans. Or, look at your other skill sets. Are you great at social media? Host a workshop on that. You could even do this in every city, partnering with local businesses and entrepreneurs to get the word out.
Like a meet and greet, but elevated. This takes the usual show experience up a notch for a truly one-of-a-kind experience for your fans. In addition to the show, think of other ways to value-add to their experience. Perhaps they’ll get a limited edition merch bundle, early entry, and pre-show pizza hang? Or an exclusive invite to meet with the band post-show? Explore different ways to make it an unforgettable experience for them.
Limited edition merchandise
One of the easiest ways to make money on the road is through limited edition merch that can only be bought on the tour. Fans will naturally want to support you, but limited runs of unique items will create value for them and make the offer irresistible.
Collaborations on the road
Collaborations in the music industry are one of the most powerful ways to make new connections and accelerate your career. Reach out to bands, venues, labels, or festivals, to see what kind of collaborations you can do. You could brainstorm together to see what fits, or better yet — go in with a suggestion for how you can work together. Make it easy for them to say yes.
Start before you hit the road
This is key. Many of these things take advance planning, such as creating your limited edition merch or reaching out about collaborations. Make sure you’re giving yourself plenty of time to map it out. Think about everything from what you’ll do to how you’ll do it.
Start with the things you instinctively think will earn you the most – both in money and in social proof with your fans, then start to plan it out. Who do you need to contact to make this happen? How will you promote it? What will the day-to-day on the road look like?
Continue to connect with new opportunities
The planning doesn’t stop once you’re on the road! Continue to keep your eyes open for new opportunities as they pop up. They won’t always be obvious, you have to pay attention and stay creative.
One way to do this is by building relationships on the road. If you pass a record store that may interest your fans, strike up a conversation with the owner and float a few ideas about promoting your music. If you see a venue you didn’t know existed, check it out and meet the people that work there. Ask them who else you should know in town, and ask for an introduction. You get the idea. It’s about talking to people and brainstorming how you might be able to add to each other’s lives.
Share social proof
Remember how I mentioned the power of social proof as a profit booster? Social proof is incredibly powerful and when you’re on tour it’s a goldmine for content. Everything from the show itself to the day-to-day around can be shared with your audience. Social proof moves the needle on fan engagement.
While this last one isn’t a way to get quick cash on the road like the rest, it’s just as important. After all, touring isn’t just an opportunity to connect with new fans. It’s also a way to expand your reach within the industry, which leads to new opportunities down the line and can be just as valuable.
Have you had a profitable tour? What are the secrets that you swear by?
Angela Tyler is the founder of MP Co. (formerly Muddy Paw PR) and has secured placements on Forbes, Business Insider, American Songwriter, Lead Singer Syndrome, & more. She loves dessert, her rescue dog Sawyer, and new ideas.