Summer touring season is fast approaching and many bands are finalizing those last minute details before the tour starts. Every year, bands report issues and problems that could have easily been avoided by simply talking to their manager before they ever set foot on the tour bus. Whether you’re a part of a top selling band or just starting out with an unknown group, there are some simple details that can make this tour the best one ever.
Entries in Advice (18)
When asked what advice I might give to the aspiring touring artist, I consider my reply much the same as Polonius must have felt in passing on wisdom to Hamlet before the latter’s aborted trip to England with the ill-fated Rosencrantz and Guildenstern (Neither a borrower nor a lender be… etc.).
Here then are the ten most important things to remember as a touring musician that must be memorized in order to survive. There’s no trick to coming out healthy, wealthy and wise at the end of a tour (assuming you started the tour that way), as long as you follow these few simple tenets.
Camping at a festival sounds exciting and fun, but without proper preparation, the trip could turn into quite the fiasco. To avoid this scenario, campers need to be ready for the adventure they are embarking on. This could take some research of the area and learning the basics of camping, if new to the scene.
The time of year for New Year’s Resolutions is almost upon us again, and with it will come fair-weather promises to ourselves to get into shape, cut down on alcohol, and maybe tidy the garage. For many of you who frequent this site, the New Year’s Resolution will be something along the lines of a fairly vague ‘be more successful’, and that in and of itself is fine, but I’d like to invite you to take a step back a little.
It was a Saturday afternoon in Minneapolis. Charlie Waymire and I were in a studio at college, tuning up his monster double-bass drumset for his band’s recording session later that day. Or maybe should I say trying to tune his drumset. Taking turns wielding the drumkey while the other played, nothing either of us did seemed to get both bass drums to sound the same. All we got were these loud, sonically unmatched thuds.
Ever wondered why your band struggles to even get pub gigs, yet a fresh new band is packing out venues from day one? Fed up of having to resort to Pay2Play gigs because no decent promoter is willing to take a chance with you? The secret to success is in plain sight, it’s just only a few have the vision to see it. This guide covers the importance of planning ahead, how to gain attention for your band, and how to score those exciting opportunities that are otherwise unavailable to you.
If you are young and reading this blog, you are probably grinding your teeth with rage at the sight of the headline alone. Don’t fret. I’m not some old crusty geezer here to teach you a lesson or put you in “your place.” I’m 25 and have been working in the music, marketing, and communications industry for 10 years. I started my company, AB Co., 6 years ago and have grown it into Canada’s leading music marketing and communications agency. I manage a team of 13 and started my company at the age of 18 with a whole lot of balls.
Money. Many artists struggle with it: either we’re poor at managing income or we lack creativity in getting it. It’s clear that with the shape of the music industry, most artists aren’t making a living from record sales. So how are they getting the support that they need?
You might argue that some bands make their money from performing: they command large guarantees when playing a show. Another popular idea is that most bands survive because of merch sales (few promoters provide a decent guarantee, if one at all). Others see crowdsourcing as the new golden calf.
I don’t think there is a one-size fits-all model for all artists. What artists need is something that is personal, transparent, and appropriate for their career. In 5 Non-traditional Ways to Promote Your Music, I called upon artists to use their creativity when it comes to music promotion. I think the same could be said of your sources of income as well.
Martin Atkins, touring artist and author of the book Tour:Smart, recently did an interview with CD Baby President Brian Felson where he basically said: keep your day job!
I agree - it’s important to be strategic about your job so that instead of “quitting” your day job, you can replace it with another career: music. However, as long as you are there, it’s important to pick up as many skills as possible that will be useful to the working musician. Here’s a list of things that you should be learning from your day job:
Let’s paint a scenario. Let’s say you’ve got some great music. You’re an up-and-coming independent. It doesn’t matter who you are - the songwriter, the producer, the artist, the manager, or the indie label owner. You’ve generated some pretty good buzz for that music. And, you happen to have $5000 to spend. What should you spend it on? What would really help advance your career?
A. Spend it on advertising
B. Spend it going on tour
C. Hire a publicist
D. Hire a lawyer
E. Hire a college radio promoter
And the correct answer is…
So you’ve finally saved up the money to record your masterpiece. You’ve found the perfect producer that “gets you” and you’ve set the date to start recording. Life is good! Now what? You know there is more to it. But what is it that you should be doing from now until your project starts? Do the people who make amazing albums just get lucky? No they don’t. Being prepared means everything. Football player and Super Bowl champion Ronde Barber has this to say, “There is no such thing as luck. Bounces go either way. Every day and you have to take advantage of those situations. You call it luck and I call it being prepared”.
One of the reasons we started MusicianWages.com was because of the huge reservoir of unqualified career advice that was being served to musicians online. I usually keep quiet about the charlatanry tips I find online, but I just can’t pass this one up. It displays the characteristics of bad career advice so acutely that I just have to point it out.
The Busking Alchemist
This article dropped onto my reading list this past weekend. Want To Make $50,000 a Year In Music? Start With One Dollar a Day. There’s a pair of sentences early in this article that are particularly telling. One of the things that mystifies me about this article is why it continues after this:
Email is an essential part of the fan relationship equation for artists, labels, and managers. While it is difficult to say the exact value of collecting any individual email address for musicians, marketers from other industries peg the generic value of getting an email at about $1 each. But it’s all about what you do with it once you are given the great responsibility of owning it. We have seen Artists generate as much as $10 per email address on their list, when used properly.
Email has some interesting attributes going for it, like:
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(Updated January 13, 2016)