Is your band stuck, or are you just ready for the next big step?
Either way, we are here to help you get there.
Every webinar that we have done on Music Business & Touring have 3 common themes that every single influencer has touched on. Normally, when different people who are all successful in one area are saying the SAME DANG STUFF, IT'S PRETTY DARN IMPORTANT!
These 3 things are-
1) Make sure you are with the right people
Is touring really what you want to do for a living, or is it just a fun thing to pursue for now? Well, what about your bandmates? If 3/5ths of your band are committed to a career of being a touring musician, and the other 2 are just looking to play shows occasionally, chances are there's going to be some high tensions, drama & issues down the road. Make sure that you are surrounding yourself with people who have the same commitment level as you do. You also want to make sure that you can have a good business relationship & friendship with all of your bandmates.
I have some very close friends who I would never be in a band or run a business with. I have other friends that I might not be close with, but I would tour with them in a heartbeat. Touring adds a stressful dynamic to friendships, being around anyone too much will lead to some heated moments.....let alone living out of a van with 5-7 other people for 4-6 weeks straight. If you have to make business decisions together, you better be sure that your friendship won't be affected by the stressors of tough decision making.
2) Networking is KEY
It is absolutely essential to connect with as many people as you can in the music industry. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter if you're connecting with people who are exclusively in your local music scene, or connecting with some of the biggest influencers in the industry. You NEED to be connecting with people.
Now, let's break down that negative stereotype that comes with the term "networking." If you were like me, you were led to associate that term with some sketchy, POS business dude who is super manipulative & constantly trying to get stuff from people. Don't get me wrong, people like that definitely exist, and I think I can speak for us all when I say that they suck. So, first off....don't be that guy. No one likes that guy.
I like to redefine networking to fit a modern & healthy understanding of it's best functionality- Thinking of others more than you are thinking of yourself. Approaching every interaction you have with the thought "How can I make a positive, lasting impact on this person today? How can I contribute to this person today?"
If you've attended any of our webinar series, you've probably heard me rant about a guy named Zig Ziglar. He is a brilliant, brilliant mind in the business world, and frequently says "You really can have anything in life that you'd like, as long as your focus is helping enough other people get what they want!"
So, with your new psychology of networking in place, you need to take the time & invest in whatever music scene you are trying to get involved with. If it's metal, you need to go to every metal show you can. Rap? Great! Go to every rap show. Funk? You guessed it, every show. Rock...Yup, every show.
Be sure to connect with every person that you can, be it another musician, a sound engineer at the local venue, a promoter, the guy working the door, all of them! The music scene is a living organism, and it only functions when every person involved is pulling their weight. There is no one person or role that has more value than another, so you need to connect with all of them. Ask people how you can get involved! Tell the promoter that you'd love to help out with any extra work he may have, or that your band would love to open up any upcoming shows. Tell the sound engineer that you'd like to show up to the venue early and help him run cables if he wouldn't mind showing you a few things about running live sound. In other words, CONTRIBUTE, CONTRIBUTE, CONTRIBUTE!
3) Create a "web" of shows
By the time you get here, you should be pretty invested in your local scene. Your band should be playing shows pretty frequently, and you should know who does what to make your local music scene flourish. Once you're here, it's time to expand your reach, one city at a time.
Too many bands try to skip this step. Here's what happens-
"Guys, we had 200 kids come out to our hometown headlining show last night! I think it's time for us to start touring." **band books 3 week tour around half of the US by connecting with local promoters on social media**
.......1 week into the tour.......
Band is broke, only 2 of the 7 shows actually happened, the band made no money at those shows, the van broke down, and you're stuck in the middle of freaking Wisconsin with no idea how to get to the next shows, but those are probably going to get canceled too, so you cancel the tour and have some friends send you money to get home. Ouch.
It happens all the time. It happened to me.....multiple times. I was a slow learner, don't be like me.
The best way to start touring is to start in small, controlled environments. I'm going to use my hometown, Columbus OH as an example. Repeat this same system in your own city.
If your band was from Columbus, OH and you are doing well on your hometown shows, you want to find a few major cities that are about 2 hours away from your "home base." For Columbus, we would be able to grab Cincinnati, Cleveland, Dayton, and maybe Toledo. Based on the network that you've been cultivating, you SHOULD have some connections with bands, promoters or venues in those cities. If not, use the power of social media! Figure out what local bands are playing those cities & connect with them. Invite them to come play Columbus, book a show and put them on. Ask them if they would do the same for you in their city. Repeat step 2 in the new cities that you are now connected with. Once you have created some connections in those cities, you can book a SHORT, 3-6 day tour & hit all of those cities. Be sure to have an "emergency fund" saved up before you start any kind of touring, because life is going to punch you in the face with bills somehow.
Once you have started to cultivate a small following in those 4-5 cities(including your hometown), look a map, and figure out what cities are 2 hours away from each city you are able to hit now. Repeat the same process.
So, what was just playing Columbus then turned into a short tour- Columbus, Cincinnati, Dayton, Toledo, Cleveland. Woohoo! Now, you can expand a little further. Columbus, Cincinnati, Louisville KY, Indianapolis, IN, Dayton, Detroit MI, Toledo, Cleveland, Pittsburgh PA.
Continue to repeat this process until you can do a regional tour. Do not try to start out doing a nationwide tour. No one knows who you are yet, no one will come to shows, you will not make money, shows will get canceled, you will have no way to get home. DON'T DO IT. It's not fun!
It isn't difficult work to do, BUT it is difficult to walk out! Everyone thinks they are wired for touring until they get on tour, and thats okay! Life is a funny thing, sometimes you think you are made to do something until you do it. Then you realize you hate it and never want to do it again! It's much better to find that out early on. Be honest with yourself. If you love touring, great! Keep at it! If it isn't for you, then the best thing you can do for yourself & your bandmates is to bow out in a respectful way(not necessarily on the tour, please wait until you get home, that complicates life for everyone on tour). But if after getting a taste of what touring is like you are ready to go, then we are so glad to be here to help you out.
Your band doesn't "make it" when you start touring. I believed that for the longest time. In reality, when your band starts touring, you now have to cultivate a local following in every dang city around the world. It takes time, energy, intentionality, strategy, skill, connections & maybe just a bit of luck. But, it is doable.
If I managed to go from a chubby death metal kid at 15 to a 26 year old who has been touring the world full time for about a decade now and makes a living doing it, then you absolutely can too. Plus, you have the advantage of being able to learn from other people's mistakes. That's what Music Mentors Online is all about, cultivating a community of people who are all committed to pursuing their dreams & never settling, and helping them get there as quickly as possible. Mistakes are one of the best mentors on the planet, but no one said that you can only learn from your own mistakes. So, please; learn from mine. While you're at it, you can also learn from some other major influencers like Matty Mullins of Memphis May Fire, Garrett Russell of Silent Planet, Ryan Kirby of Fit For A King, Davey Muise of Vanna, Josh Manuel of Issues, Jerome Flood, Seth Blake of Wage War, Luke Holland & many others.
If your band is ready to take the next step, grab our "Music Business & Touring Camp." It has over 11 hours of content from myself and all of the names listed above that is guaranteed to give you the strategy you need to get where you want to be. On top of that, if you purchase the series with the code "coaching" you will get 10% off and a free coaching call with yours truly. I would love to hear about where you are at, where you want to be, and come up with a strategy to get you there as quickly as possible. Click HERE to grab it!
Here's to growth, big dreams & first steps.
PS- Below is one of the videos included in the Music Business & Touring Camp. In this webinar, Davey Muise of Vanna & I go over "The Dynamics of Touring."