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.
Playing live might be something you love to do, but that doesn’t make it easy. We sometimes only think about the work it takes to pull off individual shows without considering everything we’ve done to get where we are. Even if you’re an unestablished musician early in your career, you’ve probably spent thousands of dollars on instruments and equipment and have devoted countless hours to your craft. This is all to say that you and your music are valuable, and what you do with your work should be rewarding in some way.
Acoustic sets aren’t just for folk bands and songwriters. They’re opportunities for artists working in every genre to show audiences a completely different side of their music listeners couldn’t have heard otherwise. For many musicians, this isn’t easy, and that’s exactly what makes it special. There’s a creative resourcefulness required for bands and solo artists who choose to fit their music into the mold of acoustic shows for special occasions. And, believe it or not, many listeners will resonate with these performances as much or even more than conventional shows and recorded and produced songs with full instrumentation in some cases. For musicians interested in paring down their music for acoustic sets, we’ve got a few tips to help.
With data being readily available on streaming platforms, musicians and booking agencies can book more location-targeted shows. For emerging artists who haven’t played a tour, most booking agents have to take a risk about how many tickets they can sell. With the availability of streaming data, now everyone can see how many listeners there are in each city and country, and they can make a more realistic estimate of how many listeners they can bring to the show.
In 2021, artists that are accustomed to playing big stages in front of huge crowds are bringing their music to smaller audiences by necessity. Whether you’re playing a modest outdoor show or a small house concert, it’s important to be able to pare down your set for a small, intimate audience. This isn’t a big deal if you’re a solo acoustic artist, but what if you play in a five-piece synth-rock outfit? Bands like this have challenges paring down their sets for small shows, but it can absolutely be done. These tips will help:
If you feel stuck in your music-making process, traveling is one of the best ways to shake things up. Whether you’re heading out on a long tour or a trip around the world, leaving home and embracing the unknown is something that can inspire your creative process and alter the way you view life. Here are four ways that traveling can improve your music: