Making the most out of touring... 
February 1, 2013
Casey McPherson in Budgeting, DIY Artist, Gigs, Hotels, Indepedendant Artist , Selling Your Merch, Touring, Touring Tips, Touring and Gigging, advice for bands, budgeting, earn a living playing live music, health, tour, travel, travel

I’ve been touring for almost a decade now and have developed some strategies that have helped…….. When we first started hitting the road, we’d leave town in our ice cream van with a bottle of Jack Daniels, some other accoutrements, and just took off for the first city… our plan was always to see which guy in the band could score a girl to like him that night, then we’d all follow her to her house and crash there. Well, that didn’t always work and when we started getting real girlfriends, you can imagine the drama that THAT caused!
 These days, whether I’ve got label money for tour support or we’re going out on our own I follow a few simple rules that end up saving me a crap load of money.

1.) Don’t book the travel in advance - you never know what’s going to change on tour.. and a booked hotel that you’re not using can waste money fast. We book everything on the day before the show through priceline on our iphone app. Make sure you bid on a 3 star hotel (free internet and breakfast plus no parking charges), which you can usually get for $50 a night and it’s 100 times nicer than staying at the motel 6. Plus, you get a free meal. 2 - 3 people to a room (bring a blow up mattress, or ask for a cot) Also, if we’re staying for more than one night, we’ll book a house through Airbnb or VRBO and end up with the same rate but a place to cook, hang, and save money.

2.) Take a cooler - We always take a cooler on the road and stop at a grocery store once a week. DON’T EAT FAST FOOD!!! unless you want to feel depressed, get in band fights, and sound like crap every night. you need to eat healthy. Between breakfast at the hotel, making a sandwich in the van, and a small “buyout” from the club, I usually only spend about $5.00 a day on food… unless I get sushi or steak, then I spend $20 a day and eat like a king.

3.) Promote each show individually - try emailing/tweeting/facebooking the people ONLY in the city you’re coming to a week before. No one likes an over achieving self promoting band.. but if you target your audience for that one show then you have a much better chance of getting them there. What else are you going to do in the van for 8 hrs a day?

4.) Do a budget - I know, I hate budgets too but it’s scientifically proven that you’re better with your money when you know where it’s going. I’ll put up a simple budget on google docs and update it every day with gas, hotel, and merch information so that I can constantly see if we’re losing money or making any!

5.) Go to the merch booth - C’mon man, you’re there.. you may as well. Plus, I sell about 45% more merch when I go there. Half the time, it just takes giving people a reason to get over there before they buy something.. and it just may be the difference of you coming home with an eviction notice, or a well paid band and some cash in the account!

Good luck, and if you’d like a sample budget for your band just send me an email to casey[at] and I’ll send ya one!

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