What Actually Goes into a Tour?
Have you ever wondered what goes into organising a tour? What are the different aspects that need considering when organising a route? How do you even start going about it? Well, at House of Tours we know all about the logistics of planning a successful tour and we can tell you that there’s a lot more to it than just venues, tickets and packing enough clean underwear. So, here are some aspects of touring that you might not have considered but should never be overlooked.
1. The Venues.
Approaching venues yourself can be daunting. No performers enjoy the experience of rejection but remember that fortune favours the bold. If you don’t ask, then you definitely won’t get, so by asking, you’ve increased your chances tenfold. Keep in mind that without booking acts, like yours, they wouldn’t be able to stay open for very long. They need you as much as you need them.
Once you’ve worked up the courage to get things moving, you need to consider what kind of venues will suit your show. Where will your fans be comfortable? You also need to consider capacity. No one likes a half empty gig, so you need to ask yourselves, “can we fill it?” It’s also a good plan to consider the size of the stage/performance space to see if you can actually fit in it as well as all your equipment, set and lights. You can’t lose yourself in rocking out if you’re constantly worried about tripping over the speakers or running into other bandmates.
2. Choose a Logical Route.
It’s no good putting stickers on maps and deciding the dates for yourself. You need to liaise with the venues and work around their availability. When you approach venues about using their space for your gigs, ask for several available dates or date windows when they have availability. If possible, enquire at more than one venue per area, that way you’re more likely to get a date that suits you as well as the venue. Now you can work out a logical route that doesn’t double back on itself. This way you won’t end up leaving Brighton for tomorrow’s show in Bolton…hopefully. There has to be a balance between what is convenient for the venues and what’s going to work for you.
3. Sound and Lighting.
Are you taking your own, or will you be relying on the use of the venue’s? Are you bringing your own operators, or will you need the use of the house techies? If you’re bringing your own, you need to allow for time between gigs to set up and test the technical equipment before each show. It also takes muscle to move speakers, lights and wires (wires are surprisingly heavy!). So, make sure you’ve got enough muscle to move the mountains of gear, and enough to cover their wages of course.
4. Spares and repairs.
Your equipment is your livelihood, and we know how much a particular guitar can mean to you. However, remembering things like spare guitar strings, fuses for your pedal boards, power cables, picks, sticks and any other parts of your gear that could get damaged or broken in the line of duty is a really good idea. You really want to avoid being in Huddersfield searching high and low for a new set of guitar strings that you don’t hate for a show that night. Getting things delivered when you’re touring is a veritable nightmare so just be prepared. Even taking a whole spare instrument isn’t a daft idea. At least it will be yours and you know you can rely on it if anything happens to your favourite one.
It’s pretty simple, if no one knows you’re coming, no one will come to see you. Make sure you’ve got promotional posters etc. out in good time before the tour to announce the dates you’ll be playing. You’ll need to think about how you’re going to get any promotional materials to each stop on your tour ahead of time. Don’t even think about getting posters printed until your tour has been approved by the venues though. You can’t announce you’re coming and then not show up because of a mix up. Once it’s printed, it needs to happen.
Simply deciding that you want to sell merch at your gigs isn’t quite enough. Ditto advises that “you’ll need to work out what to take, how much stock to bring and have options for reorders on the road if you’re doing really well with it. Work out who is to sell it – your own person or in-house venue staff? Who gets paid for this and is there a commission?” There’s a lot to consider with merch but we hope we haven’t put you off because selling merchandise is a very useful way of subsidising your touring costs.
7. Don’t forget your towel!
Just like trying to plan for a space adventure of unverified length, you need to think seriously about what you pack. Packing for tours can be very tricky. For one thing, how do you know what you’re going to need? When you’re packing your suitcase, you’re thinking about all the nights on stage rocking and rolling and not thinking about what you’ve got to wear to tea with your great aunt Josephine in Liverpool in ten weeks’ time which your mum signed you up for “since you’re practically passing”. Bring clothes for all occasions because you don’t know what you’re going to be doing. Also try to leave room in your suitcase. You will buy things on the road and if you don’t leave space in your luggage, you’ll be carrying plastic bags with you everywhere you go. It’s not a glamourous look.
8. Tolls and taxes.
It’s easy to forget about the cost of traveling when it’s for business rather than pleasure. Motorways in France for example, almost always use a toll system which can get pretty expensive, especially if you take a wrong turn and have to double back on yourself. Busses and lorries are usually much more expensive than cars in the tolls too. Even in England we have tolls for some roads, bridges and tunnels. So, you need to factor in the cost. If you’re traveling internationally, you’ll likely need to apply for a carnet for your equipment to say that you’re exporting it temporarily and are going to bring it back to your home country when the tour is over. This can take a while, so don’t leave it to the last minute. You need to make sure all your paperwork is squared away before you travel. The last thing you need is to have to cancel a gig because you’re stuck at Dover, arguing about a piece of paper.
Even though there are so many more parts of organising a tour to consider than the ones we have mentioned, we hope we have given you some things to think about if you’re considering planning a tour yourself. Of course, House of Tours is a one stop shop for ensuring a smooth and well-planned tour. We can deal with the paperwork, negotiate with venues, organise the trucks, busses and planes and so much more all without bothering you with the tedious details. We can even organise merchandise and promotion for you and help you cost up the project. We really do it all, except the actual show. That’s down to you!