Much of your musical life as a creative might be spent working in front of a computer screen, but make no mistake. Live shows are more important than ever before when it comes to building an audience and carving out a musical identity. In a music climate where fan-musician relationships are being strained by the coldness of playlist culture, in-person performances are a chance to build a genuine human connection that often feels missing in many music experiences today.
Even in today’s digitally-driven music industry, touring is still a powerful way to build your audience and sustain their attention. But executed the wrong way, DIY touring could be a costly waste of time and can sometimes be disastrous enough to damage your career in a huge way. If you’re a small or unestablished artist, DIY touring is almost sure to end up costing you money whether things run smoothly or not. Bad tours can be devastating for morale, especially in band settings. And in an age where musicians are succeeding by creating and sharing as much great music as they can, every day you spend on the road is one you’ll spend away from your songwriting process at home. Touring can build your career by expanding your audience, but only if it’s done correctly and at the right time. These four tips will help you make the most out of your tours if you’re a small or unestablished band:
Knowing you’re not totally ready for a show is maybe the worst feeling a musician can have. Whether it’s a sold-out room or just you and the venue staff during your set, musicians are still expected to take their performances seriously if they want to be taken seriously in return. Luckily, it’s completely within your power to decide whether or not to be prepared for your concerts. This is what showing up unprepared for your shows looks and sounds like:
Whether you’re a solo artist or a member of a 7-piece ska outfit, it’s paramount to show up to your live performances confident and prepared. Some artists even adopt a superstitious approach that helps them get ready before important shows, like wearing certain clothes or listening to a favorite album before hitting the stage. Decide for yourself if the superstitious route works for you or not, but adopting these five more conventional pre-show rituals will help you prepare for your concerts.
In a time where music fans are spending more hours staring at screens than ever before, live shows are becoming crucial opportunities for audiences to experience music in person and in other ways they aren’t able to through digital formats. However, this doesn’t mean you’ll be able to play routine sets on stage and wow crowds just because they’re starved for meaningful in-person experiences. Putting some real thought and resources into making your live shows unpredictable, compelling, and memorable could mean the difference between winning over the listeners you play for or not. Here are three tips for injecting excitement into your live shows:
You can already picture it. Stepping onto the stage and looking out into the audience, you dream of seeing hundreds—no—thousands of faces staring back at you, screaming with excitement as you take the stage, singing every word back to you. An audience that feels the same way about your music as you feel about your favorite band’s music.
I bet you’re itching to get back out there on the road. And who could blame you? This past year has thrown us for a loop, and while it’s taught us new ways to connect with our audience, or given us the downtime we needed to recharge and reset, after a while, there’s nothing like the open road and the feeling of getting to see new cities, meet new fans, and spend every day doing what you love.
For young, ambitious artists, there’s nothing more romantic and hopeful than the idea of jumping in a van and touring around the country for months at a time. Tours are crucial for grabbing attention, building audiences, carving out performance experience, and building industry connections. And when labels and managers look for new artists to sign, artists who regularly tour are almost always the first to get noticed. But while touring gives artists a lot, it comes with serious risks, drawbacks, and costs to consider as well. A “let’s tour until we make it” mentality could end up breaking up your band instead of bringing you closer to your goals.