How to plan for a successful tour
Planning: Where are your going? Who are you touring with? Put together a business plan, and discuss your goals as a team. Who will be helping with driving, sound or tour managing? All these things need to be discussed in order to plan for a successful tour.
Once you have something booked and confirmed, start by promoting your tour online on your websites. Cooperate with the other bands that you are touring with and cross-promote. Make sure you divvy up the work for every person in the band. For example: One guy is in charge of Twitter, one is in charge of Facebook, one is in charge of making an online poster, another is in charge of the official website etc. Do one posting per day on each site promoting a certain date, show, merch item you will be selling or song you will be playing on the road.
Get a Van and get a good trailer. Make sure they are in good working condition before you go. Make sure you get AAA or some sort of company to help for road side assistance, so in case you break down at 3am you wont be totally stranded.
Do you have the proper paperwork? If you are a Canadian band playing in Canada that is ok. But if you are crossing other borders you will need a Carnet or a Work Visa to play in that area. Do you have travel insurance? Make sure to give yourself 2 – 3 months ahead of time to get all of your necessary “paperwork” in order.
Make sure you are ready to perform a great live set. I would suggest booking a rehearsal space and play your set for two weeks 5 days a week prior to tour. Play in front of mirrors. Work on your overall performance, record your rehearsals, sit down to listen to it, pick apart what you need to fix and then practice it again.
With respect to your budget, you should discuss ahead of time how much you can spend each day to make ends meet based on your guarantees and merch income. If you need to, apply for any tour grants well in advance (for Canadian Artists only.) If you need to set up a band bank account ahead of time make sure this is done. Consider a per diem which should be paid out to each member and crew (i.e. every day 10 – 20$ to cover the cost of food). Artists should not have to spend much out of their own pockets and any “hired guns” should not be responsible for covering their own necessities like water and food.
Get your merchandise ready before you go and ensure you have enough items so you don’t sell out after just a couple shows. Make sure you have your CD’s, t-shirts and something like promotional posters or stickers with your website link on it. Other smart promo ideas include iTunes download cards to giveaway with one free single download so fans can get your music. Fans love free things and will tell their friends about you. It will improve your chances of growing your fan-base.
Once all the above items have been done in preparation for tour, play a couple of local “rehearsal” shows before you head out. This will help you to fine tune your routine and make sure you work out all the kinks before you go.