The alternative to booking through a venue when on tour is booking through bands in the cities where you’re trying to visit. 9 times out of 10, you’ll be able to offer a trade and other bands will take you up on it. I happen to heavily prefer this method for several reasons (keep in mind that this is assuming I’m booking for a developing independent act on tour):
1. The Band Has Local Ties To Venues - If a band from Portland attempts to book a show in their city as opposed to you, the venues automatically prefer the band who’s listed hometown online is local, and assume they have a draw of some sort.
2. The Band Usually Has A Relationship With Venues - Venues like working with bands they know and trust. They know what to expect from individuals, how many people they bring, how to build a bill around them, and they will generally allow certain bands leeway to bring in other quality acts that they vouch for. I have also found that bookers give me more leeway simply because of my reputation with them, especially if I commit to covering the draw for an out-of-town band.
3. It Expands Your Network - I’m a FIRM believer in the philosophy that you NEED other bands in your musical journey, and you MUST be connected in a community of bands to have any success. Bands support you, they plug you, you get their crossover, and you gain ALLIES and FRIENDS FOR LIFE (which is the best part of this whole music dream!).
4. It Gives You A Place To Stay - I don’t know about you, but I like beds better than van floors. Hosting bands almost always love to have guest bands in their pad/shack/basement, etc….it saves your back and your money, and it’s generally a safer place to park your van with all your gear for the night.
5. You Get To Play In Front Of People - Nothing sucks worse than playing in an empty room on tour. It’s a complete waste of your time. No people = No payout, no merch sales, and no new fans. Take advantage of other bands’ fan bases!
After this little series on touring, I’ll cover the art of show trades in-depth…there are some crazy stories and certain ways to do things that will save you some serious pain.
Feel free to ask questions!