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Touring Tips For Bands On A Budget

Hitting the road and taking your band on tour is exciting. Whether this is your first tour and you’re still getting your feet wet or you’re veterans of the road, it’s important to make sure you stick to a budget so you can get to your designated performance locations with ease (and have a little fun along the way).

Playing music professionally is actually more of an investment than people tend to think. Until you reach “rockstar status” or you have a record label paying for your travel expenses, most of the money spent on a tour will come out of your own pocket.

If you’re in a band on a budget, there are some things you can do to save money while on tour, make a little extra cash along the way, and have fun doing it. For many musicians, going out on tour and being able to play shows every night is a dream come true. Being able to save a little money along the way will make living out that dream even better.

Building a Budget

The first thing you should do before you head out on tour is determine what your overall tour budget is going to be. You don’t want to be halfway through your tour and run out of money. Your budget doesn’t need to be overly detailed or complicated. Making a single-page estimation of what things will cost will help you keep your finances in check. Your budget should include things like:


  • Food

  • Accommodations

  • Travel

  • Insurance

  • Fees

  • Shopping

  • Incidentals

  • An emergency fund


Once you’ve created your budget, think of different things you can do to have enough money to cover the entire tour. One of your biggest costs will undoubtedly be transportation. If you’re touring out of the country, knowing the rules of air travel and looking for the best deals can help you to stay under budget.


If you’re staying in the country and thinking about transportation options, consider a van/RV to save money. You can take care of a lot of the costs on your budget list by renting an affordable van or RV. It will cut down on travel expenses, and if the RV is big enough, you can sleep in it instead of shelling out for hotel rooms every night. Many RVs also have kitchens or storage space for food, which can help you to avoid eating out too often. Vans and RVs can get cramped if you’re traveling with several bandmates, so be sure you know how to pack light in order to give everyone room and avoid the clutter. If you need a large instrument, like a piano, for one of your gigs, consider renting along your tour dates in order to avoid fees as well as hauling large gear.

Schedule Your Days Productively

Life on the road can make you feel like a rockstar, but when you’re on a budget, it’s important to have some sort of structure to your days. Not only is it good for your wallet, but it’s better for continuing your development as a professional musician. Going out every night and partying after your show will end up causing stress on everyone; you might be late to a gig, your health might start to suffer, and so on.


One of the best parts about being on tour is the ability to get out and explore the areas you’re visiting. It’s a great way to bond with your bandmates, reduce stress, and fuel your creativity.


You might find yourself in some of the most exciting and interesting cities in the country, like Chicago, where there are endless things to see and do. Planning your days out efficiently will allow your tour to be a full experience — not just endless hours of driving, setting up, playing, tearing down, etc.

Making Money on Tour

While saving money on tour is great, most bands also want to make a bit of a profit or at least break even when it comes to their expenses. Touring is a good way for bands to make money, but you still need to put in the effort to make people come to see your shows. The more people that come, the more tickets are sold. This means more profit you’ll make at the end of the night after the door split. But if you’re on a budget, you probably won’t want to pay a big promoter or order bulk merchandise from an expensive production company.


It all starts with promoting your show wherever you are. Concert promotion is easier than ever nowadays thanks to technology and social media. If you have a solid following on Facebook, Twitter, etc., call out to your followers and let them know where you’re going to be. Talk about your tour and the dates weeks ahead of when you’ll actually be leaving, and keep your fans updated along the way.


Things like press releases, posters and flyers, asking the venue to promote you, etc., are also all great ways to advertise your shows. Even while you’re performing, you can encourage people at the show to buy your merchandise or tell them when you’ll be back in the area. Never miss an opportunity to promote your band, even in the middle of a show.


Another great way to both save money and make some is to DIY as much as possible. There are many websites that easily allow you to create your own merchandise, such as Bands on a Budget or Merchly. Bring a friend along with you on tour to work at your merch table or hold contests on your social media accounts before each show, then choose a lucky fan to help run your merchandise for the night.


Finally, if you need a little cash to make ends meet while on tour, use some of your downtime to take advantage of the opportunities of the gig economy. As a freelance musician, you may be able to earn some cash by being a music tutor or teaching lessons on music production. This is a smart way of balancing your budget and allowing the band to enjoy their time on the road.

Top Tips for a Successful Tour

Going on tour with your band is the best way to promote your music, get more fans, and grow your band’s name along the way. It’s also an experience not every band gets to have. So, even if your budget is small and you’re just starting out, consider yourself lucky to have the opportunity to travel and make music.

By doing things like booking your own tour instead of hiring a promoter, making your own merch, traveling light, and being responsible with your time on the road, you can easily stay under budget — and you might even end up making enough money on your tour to record your next album.


Touring Tips For Bands On A Budget

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