After recording my debut album Keep Lookin’ For Love, I couldn’t wait to get out on the road and start sharing the new music with people -says Jenn Bostic.
I didn’t know the first thing about booking a tour, but without an agent to help, my only option was to figure it out.
Here are 7 helpful hints I wish I had thought of when booking my first tour:
1. Couch Surfing Saves Money
When deciding on a region to tour, think about where your friends and family are. Hotel costs can add up quick, and if you have a free place to stay you can maximize profits. Airbnb and hostels can be great inexpensive options if you end up in a bind.
2. Finding the Perfect Venue
indieonthemove.com is an amazing website I use frequently. This site lists the venue, address, capacity, direct booking details and sometimes compensation details. If you have friends that live in the area you’ll be touring ask them for recommendations. Those same friends are more likely to bring their friends to a show if you’re performing at a place they helped you find. You may also want to talk to them about hosting a house concert. There are also various open mic nights that secure spots for traveling artists, they can be good for networking and performing for built in crowds. Reaching out to venues with at least three months lead time will deliver the best results.
3. Anchor Date
Do your best to book at least one really profitable show along the tour that will help cover expenses and serve as an anchor date that you book the rest of the tour around. There’s something about confirming a show that will light a fire underneath you to book the rest of the tour.
4. Play For Tips
If this is your first tour and you’re performing in a city where no one’s heard of you before, it’s okay to play for tips. That being said, always try to negotiate something with the venue, whether it be 50% off food and drink, a stipend for gas, or a guarantee. Your art should be valued and your performance is worth something. If playing for tips, don’t be afraid of pointing out the tip jar during your performance.
5. Itineraries are Everything
Handle as many details pre-tour as you can. Once you hit the road you’ll want to enjoy the experience. Touring can be a lot of hard work, with long hours of driving and late nights. Map out your route, figure out what time you need to leave each morning to arrive with plenty of time to get set up and sound checked in the next city. Figure out how far your lodging is from the venue and if staying with friends, make sure they are aware of what time you’re arriving, if they’re at work or you show up really late at night, they may need to arrange to leave a key for you. Printing out a detailed itinerary is a great idea.
They’re everything when you’re out on the road. Dining out every meal gets expensive. Pack a cooler, pack a loaf of bread and some peanut butter, whatever you need to cut costs. Not only will you save money, but there are many unexpected hiccups when traveling and sometimes you’ll arrive at a venue that doesn’t serve food in a small town with nothing open nearby.
7. Local Press
Don’t underestimate the power of local press. Once your tour is booked, do a google search for local radio, newspapers and magazines in the cities you’ll be touring. Reach out with your show details, and a short blurb about yourself. Ask them if they would be willing to help you promote the show. Sending promotional posters to the venue at least six weeks in advance can be really helpful. If you have friends in the area, ask them to help by acting as your “street team” and potentially hanging posters for you, telling their friends, and building a buzz.
My Reaction to This Week's Singing Competition Entry
Allison Dobkins - Orange Coloured Sky
Allison, you are such an entertainer. Your stage presence is fantastic and you seem to be really comfortable on stage. Your vocal tone is a great combination between pop and jazz. The quality of your voice in the verses really shines. Lyrically this song is kind of a mouthful, and during some of the quick sections the words got a little lost, it may feel awkward, but over enunciating those sections will help the listener better understand the lyric. I can’t believe you’re only 14, your belt is developing incredibly well. There seems to be a tendency to tighten your cords as you reach for the higher notes, and the intonation suffered as a result toward the end of the song. This was my biggest challenge as a singer growing up, and my best advice would be to relax your jaw and blend some of the warmer tone you’re singing with in the verses into your belt. You have a big future ahead of you, great job!
Jenn Bostic is a singer songwriter who’s hit song “Jealous of the Angels” is making an impact worldwide. She won five Independent Country Music Association Awards, including Overall Winner, Best Female Country Artist, Best Musician, Best Songwriter and Country Music Song of the Year. Jenn’s new album “Faithful” is now available worldwide on iTunes and Amazon.