In this Tour Tips segment, the singer-songwriter, AHI, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
Prior to the pandemic, I was touring constantly. From intimate headline shows of my own to supporting #1 artists at stadiums and arenas; from broken-down vans to tour buses; from a single energy bar a day to four catered meals plus snacks. I’ve seen a lot, but the one thing all touring has in common is that you can never be too prepared. Touring at any scale has its unglamorous moments that you just have to adjust to. So I’ll try to provide some insight into the things I’ve learned along the way.
1. The show must go on:
Never forget why you’re on tour. Have fun, party all you want, do what you gotta do to stay sane, but remember – the show is everything. If you don’t prioritize your performance by arriving to soundcheck on time, rehearsing, making sure your instrument is in good shape, and always thinking about the music, then you might as well stay home. Why travel all that way to give a crappy performance? If people are spending money to come see you live, make it worth their time so they’ll want to come back next time with friends!
2. Attitude is everything:
I’ve been blessed to tour with some amazing people, but I’ve also been on the road with some less-than-amazing folks. And what I’ve learned is that the easiest way to affect someone else’s attitude is by changing your own first. Sometimes life on the road can bring out the worst in people. It takes a toll on you mentally and emotionally, so you gotta stay positive, stay communicative with everyone, and remember why you got into music in the first place. Treat the venue staff well so they’ll welcome you back. A bad attitude can ruin a whole tour, but don’t let it be yours.
3. Stay healthy:
Only you know what your body can endure, so you have to determine what health means to you. Just don’t push yourself beyond your limit. I once spent months on tour and came home with some severe back and leg pain because I hadn’t realized I’d been spending almost 8 hours a day squashed behind the steering wheel of a tiny car. I didn’t have anybody to share the load with me, so every day felt like a rush. I wasn’t eating properly, wasn’t hydrating, and I definitely wasn’t stretching. I felt great while on the road, but once I came home and the adrenaline wore off it was a completely different story. There are simple things you can do when you wake up each morning to stay healthy, so find a basic health regimen and try to stick to it every single day, even if it’s just for a few minutes. Pack a skipping rope, a water bottle, vitamins, a pillow, or whatever else works for you. Just put some thought into it – you’ll thank yourself.
4. Time management:
Believe it or not, some people don’t realize there’s a direct correlation between distance and time. It takes time to travel from one city to the next, so don’t spend half your morning looking for the perfect brew. Grab the cheap coffee from the hotel and keep it moving. I can’t tell you how easy it is to waste time, take a wrong turn, or just hit gridlock traffic. It’s always best to factor in all of those possibilities and set your arrival time well before your call time. Also, feeling rushed sucks. Give yourself time to settle into the next city. And on the flip side, if you have time then take time and smell the roses. A little break from the hustle and bustle can give you that recharge needed to keep going.
5. Go straight to your merch table:
No matter how big or small your tour is, or whether you have an entire merch team selling on your behalf or just a friend manning your table, having a quality merch setup is key. And the simple act of showing up at the merch table, shaking hands, taking pics, and signing a few autographs can boost your sales both in the present and down the road through online sales. I’ve seen so many artists finish a set and take ages to make their way over to their merch table, or worse – go straight to the bar. The people who come to your show want to support you and they are most excited right when that last note rings. So bring all that energy you built up on stage to your merch table and make some money! That energy is magnetic, so make sure you’re drawing people to the right place.