In this Tour Tips segment, the electro pop band, The Happy Fits, recommends advice for being a musician on the road. You can check out the tips, after the break.
The first two years of touring with our band was entirely “DIY.” We are fortunate enough now to have a full team and an awesome booking agent working with us but before that, we had to just figure out how to tour on our own. Here, we will try to lay out all of the tools and tips that we have gathered over the years to hopefully give any fresh bands some guidance to get their foot in the door of touring.
Tip 1: REACH OUT TO EVERYONE AND EVERYTHING
This one may seem obvious but you really have to email or message literally anything and anyone you can think of. For every 100 emails you send or bands that you message, you may only get 1 or 2 responses and you are bound to get a lot of rejections but there are always places that will let you play and musicians that would love to play with you. When all of the local small or DIY venues rejected us, we would message local coffee shops, restaurants, businesses, and their owners basically begging them to let us play. We toured with two crappy PA’s for vocals so that we could set up shows anywhere (which is also a great selling point if it’s not a real venue). Even if no venue wants you, there is always a local business that will accept you or an AirBnB space you can rent out for a show.
Tip 2: JOIN DIY FACEBOOK GROUPS
As outdated as it sounds, Facebook was a HUGE help in booking our first few tours. Mostly every major city or state has a DIY music page (i.e. “NJ DIY”) for the area and they always accept anyone that is interested in joining, whether it’s to find shows to attend or to play shows. These pages can help you find local bands and/or local venues to book and it’s a great start to routing a tour. Working with the community makes it much easier to set up a show since they have a lot of connections and resources to help create a show in their area. The likelihood is that you’ll probably end up playing in someone’s living room or basement but the DIY community is incredibly supportive and helpful and will promote your shows on the page to bring out that local following.
Tip 3: BANDCAMP
Bandcamp is an excellent way to find local bands in each city. You can google by genre and city (i.e. “Indie Bands Asbury Park, NJ Bandcamp”) and it will bring you to hundreds of local bands. They usually have all of their contact information on their home page and you can directly message them from there. This is a great way to find bands that sound similar and you can really put together a great show.
Tip 4: SPREADSHEETS
Spreadsheets are the absolute best way to organize all of your data from researching local venues and bands. We created one for venues and one for bands where we list the NAME, CONTACT INFO, DATE REACHED OUT, and RESPONSE (Y/N), and they are organized by state and city. That way, we always knew when we reached out or if we still had to reach out to certain places. One tool that we wish we knew about while we were booking these tours is a program called MAIL MERGE which can automate all of your emails by plugging the data in from the spreadsheets. That way it can reach out to all of the contact emails in one go instead of you having to manually send each email which is what we did. Praise be to mail merge.
Tip 5: DON’T GET DISCOURAGED
This might sound a little odd but booking DIY tours can be disheartening in some ways. For all of the hundreds of emails and messages that you send, you will not get a lot of responses and you will get a lot of rejections but you can not let that stop you. We have had bands tell us they don’t like us and we have had venues tell us they don’t want us but like I said in the first tip, there will always be someplace that wants you and there will always be a local band that will join your bill. We promise you that these DIY tours will be absolutely worth it and will make some of the best experiences of your life.