In part 1, I covered the reasons to tour (as I see them) and although it seems rather simplistic in nature, I hope that it helps your mindset become a little more pointed in regard to touring. After aligning the reasons for a tour, the next obvious question needing answered is “Where do we go?”
The “where” is nearly as important as the “why” when considering touring, and unfortunately, I (like many bands) have had to learn the hard way where to tour and when to tour those areas. STEPS FOR WHERE TO TOUR: 1. Choose a key region. 2. Choose key cities/towns within your chosen region.
1. Choosing Your Region
Before you even choose a region, adjust your mindset to seeing certain significant areas as regions rather than regions as determined by mapmakers. When touring, you don’t have to tour the ENTIRE NorthWest or the ENTIRE West Coast. If I could do it over again, I would probably choose a smaller area closer to home to conquer first rather than trying to invade the entire coast on the first trip. I think it’s always good to be bold and reach out of your comfort zone, but even the greatest warlords of history have failed in conquest when straying too far from the supply lines. Having said this, I also am blessed enough to live in a place rich with places to play…some are not so lucky and will have to choose a region that may even require relocation.
Make sure to choose a region where there are numerous key locations of impact inside that area. If you’re going on a “tour”, then your tour should place you in locations close enough in proximity to one another for word to spread, but far enough away from each other where you know you’re hitting almost an entirely different crowd. Your “region” may be small like a single town, or it could be a huge area. This can mean a venue on one side of a town or an entirely different city a state away. Either way, plan to have multiple points of strategic attack and product placement for maximum accessibility.
2. Choosing key locations/cities:
The key to choosing locations within a region is by simply seeing all aspects of touring through the lens of fan-base growth. I am a firm believer in playing as many shows as possible while touring, but I’m also realizing that if you don’t plan on touring those locations on a regular basis to develop a consistent and dedicated fan base, you’re wasting your time. What good does it do, especially as an independent DIY band, to play a city once and not return any time soon? You may grab a few ears, but how do you continue to keep those new fans interested/involved if you’re not going to give them more opportunities to see you?
I learned the hard way on my first tour. I found a region that was huge, chose a large list of cities, and then blasted an innumerable amount of venues with booking requests and tried to put the stops in some sort of practical order for travel planning. THIS IS NOT A GOOD PLAN. It’s always good to remain flexible when planning a tour, but some things you cannot compromise on, and location is one of them. Have a pointed set of goals that includes places that are important for you to OWN, and then make sure you intend to rise to the top of the list of bands known in that location by keeping a presence there.
Check back soon for more and PLEASE comment or make suggestions! I want to know if this is helping in any way or if I can try to answer things I may be missing.