Touring is hard. That’s always been the case. And it’s every bit as true in 2024.

No matter if you’re Taylor Swift playing a sold-out stadium or a new band with only a few fans at a dive bar hours from home. You have to balance earnings with expenses. Remain healthy and sane amidst the chaos of travel. Stay organized. Keep morale up when things go wrong on stage. Promote, promote, promote. And pray for luck.

But given the challenges of inflation and unpredictable attendance at live events today, touring might feel more difficult than ever. Even popular acts like The Black Keys have had to cancel tours. Presumably because ticket prices were too high and sales were too low.

And that’s a band with massive hits and a huge following. Now imagine the difficulties of touring if you haven’t built a reliable touring network and audience yet. You don’t want to take a leap of faith, play a bunch of empty venues, and go home broke.

But after all these words of warning, here’s the thing: You can succeed as an independent touring artist. It may be difficult, but it’s very doable.

So if you’re an artist who wants to get on the road, here are some tips to help you make touring a profitable adventure that actually moves your music forward:

Create a Killer Show

There’s no use hitting the road until you can consistently create unforgettable moments for an audience of strangers. Don’t leave “inspiration” up to chance. Make your arrangements, banter, and movement as captivating as possible. And remember, your live set can differ from the recordings!

Don’t Oversaturate a Market

The key to booking good gigs? It comes down to demand. You don’t want to play too often in any particular city, because your potential audience will start to feel less urgency about your shows. Not too often, not too rare. Got it, Goldilocks?

Only Approach Venues You Can Fill

Filling a venue might sound like a tall order for an early tour when you’re hitting towns you’ve never played before. But the heart of the lesson is this: Don’t aim to book yourself in big venues too soon. Contact small venues that will seem crowded even with low attendance. You want every event to at least feel like a sellout show.

Make an Irresistible Merch Offer

Ticket sales, a bar percentage, tips, or a cover charge might not be enough on early tours. So always have one or two items for sale that fans need to take home with them. The more tour-specific and urgent the merch offer feels, the better.

Start In Your Region

Lean on local connections to hit the nearest cities. The same way you’d ask your neighbor to borrow some milk, not a stranger two states away.

Seek Out Gig Swaps

It all comes down to favors. Trade opening slots with out-of-town acts. This is one of the most timeless and effective ways to start touring.

Build Slowly

Don’t travel too far from home until you’ve proven you can be profitable on the way. Start with a long-weekend. Then add one more city with each tour.

Be Selective

Only play cities you suspect you’ll return to within 6-12 months. Otherwise you risk that audience going cold on you. It’s kind of the opposite problem as playing too often.

Streamline Your Lineup and Gear

Reduce as many costs as you can without hurting the quality of your show. And costs can mean money or time. Do you NEED four keyboards if one controller and a computer does the trick? Is your duo just as capable as your quintet? Playing with less gear means more venue options, quicker load-in, easier packing, smaller vehicle, less gas. Playing with fewer members can mean all those same things, PLUS fewer people to split the money.

Limit Luxuries

Can you crash on a couch instead of a hotel? Can you eat trail mix instead of sushi? The secret to touring on a budget is… the budget.

Run Ads

Create a marketing funnel to intro your music to geo-targeted audiences. Then run followup ads to sell tickets or drive event engagement. If you can work directly with the promoter or venue to get quick access to ticket sales and customer data, that can be a big benefit.

Promote Every Date

Do everything you can: posts, posters, DMs, calls, press, blog outreach, record stores, college and comunity radio. Because your music is depending on it.

Supplement with Social

Not every event has to be IRL. So explore livestreams, AMAs, and other ways to connect with fans you can’t meet in-person. Once you have a sufficient livestream or social audience in a particular town, it might be worth adding it to your tour itinerary.

Repurpose Your Efforts

Every show is a chance to capture photo and video content that helps you re-engage attendees afterwards. Don’t drive a thousand miles, play an incredible concert, and have nothing else to show for it.

Make a Followup Plan

Get fan emails. Meet everyone at the merch table. Be professional with venue staff. Befriend other acts on the bill. Then be sure to reconnect with those people so every tour can build upon the last.

Do a “Tour Sprint Review”

Meet with your bandmates, your family, or your team after every tour to assess what you can do better each time.


Touring isn’t easy. But it’s doable.

By taking the right steps, it can also be a profitable way to make lasting connections with your fans.

Get industry access to book better gigs and festivals!

More in Performance



Double your merch sales with one simple change

Chris Robley

Chris Robley

June 13, 2024

Double your merch sales with one simple change

What if you could add one word to your setlist and instantly boost your merch sales? Well get out your…


Are you charging too much (or too little) for your shows? 

Chris Robley

Chris Robley

March 20, 2024

Are you charging too much (or too little) for your shows? 

As a touring artist, you want to pick the perfect price for your concert tickets. But do your shows cost too…


Everywhere to announce your next show!

Chris Robley

Chris Robley

February 23, 2024

Everywhere to announce your next show!

Want to make sure you play to a packed house? Then here's a list of all the places you should…


Double your merch sales with one simple change

Chris Robley

Chris Robley

June 13, 2024

Double your merch sales with one simple change

What if you could add one word to your setlist and instantly boost your merch sales? Well get out your…


Are you charging too much (or too little) for your shows? 

Chris Robley

Chris Robley

March 20, 2024

Are you charging too much (or too little) for your shows? 

As a touring artist, you want to pick the perfect price for your concert tickets. But do your shows cost too…


Everywhere to announce your next show!

Chris Robley

Chris Robley

February 23, 2024

Everywhere to announce your next show!

Want to make sure you play to a packed house? Then here's a list of all the places you should…