How to get on a tour or a local show as a support act

There are so many advantages to being on tour;  especially if you can open for a successful band who shares your similar demographic. There are a couple of ways you can do this and I would highly recommend taking these steps to further your career.

Do your research. Find an artist with a similar demographic playing venues with about 1000 capacity higher than current shows you are doing. If you are in a rock band playing a local town pub for 200 people, reaching out to a band like Bon Jovi may not be the best route to go. Start off working your way up the ladder, from clubs, to theatres, to arenas.  Contact the bands you are hoping to play with, their booking agent and their management. Create and email/pitch about yourself (Reference “Creating The Perfect Pitch” blog on “News” from a few weeks back). Similarly, you can do an email: Introductory paragraph telling who you are and who you are hoping to open up for.  Include important info about your band, your website link and a link to some live footage if you have it. Then you should say why or how THEY would benefit from having you on their specific show or tour. Keep it short and sweet. If your band has a current fan base or local draw that can bring 100 – 150 people to a show, you will have a much of a better chance at getting approval as an opening act. Or if you can offer local promotion and postering for the show, that could help as well. Don’t reach out a week before the date and expect to get on the line up. If you give them a couple months in advance or as soon as the show is announced they will likely have time to work on filling the spot if it is not already taken.

If you don’t hear back from any of those sources, you can also find out the venue contact and reach out to them directly. If you really want to play the show and the exposure is worth a lot, offer to play for free or a low $100 fee. Again you need to explain to the venue why they would benefit you to play there, (including your local draw or any singles on local radio is important here as well).

Use social media too to reach out or follow up: example maybe Tweet something like this: “@bigband have you checked us out? We are in Dallas, TX & see you are playing here Sept. We draw 300 ppl to that venue and would love to open”

If you already have management, a label or a booking agent kindly asking them if they have any bands on their roster you could tour with as well. That is quite common to partner up bands from the same company and it can work out well for both sides.

One final way to get on with a show or tour is to “buy on”.  This has become a very popular way to get on larger tours in the last couple of years. This is where a band will offer another band money to open for them. A lot of musicians wont be able to do that due to their financial situation, but some with private investors or personal money to put into their careers can go that route for sure.

Once you start opening for reputable artists your career and fanbase will improve. You will start to see a chain reaction of increased sales and online fans. Then the next step would be to go on tour again, playing with other acts on other routes. This time with an even bigger band, and so on and so on until you have established a name for yourself to headline your very own shows.


Posted in: Artist Advice, Artist Consulting, Independent Music News, Indie Music Tips, Music Consulting.