Being a rock n’ roll star is arguably the most glamourised gig in the world, and with good reason. Playing to adoring fans night after night sounds like a dream to a lot of us, and for many musicians doing so is part and parcel of their everyday life. That said, it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. From sleepless nights on tour buses to relentless schedules with no time off, touring certainly isn’t for everyone.
One of the biggest challenges is keeping your head above water financially so you actually have enough money to see the tour through to the end. As a new musician that’s what you’re going to have to do. But with a little bit of forethought, you can avoid the big mistakes rookie bands and performers often make when touring for the first time.
The last thing you want is for some stolen equipment or a lawsuit to be the end of your tour, which is why insurance is vital. This will help safeguard you in such scenarios and make sure your insurer bears the costs, not you.
For example, with comprehensive equipment insurance, you can afford to quickly get a replacement, knowing that your policy will cover the costs. While with public liability insurance, you’re protected financially if somebody suffers an injury or property damage during a show and blames you. For example, they might trip over your wires and hurt themselves, or your electrics could cause a fire and damage the venue. As public liability insurance provider Tradesman Saver notes: “Accidents are always possible if your work involves direct contact with others. Therefore, it’s vital to be prepared for the worst by protecting yourself financially.”
Don’t pay to play
While you may have done some hometown gigs and built up a local fanbase, you might not have a following in other areas of the country. Consequently, venue promoters will likely offer you a door deal, which is where you’re given a percentage of ticket sales or cover charge. Although this can work out very well for musicians, a low turnout could see you walk away with very little and essentially make you pay to play. This can harm the financial viability of your tour if it happens regularly.
Instead, it’s critical that you negotiate a guarantee for each show, which is an amount promised by a venue regardless of turnout. While you might not have worked out your guarantee yet, we recommend setting this at around £100-£200 initially and encouraging the promoters to charge for entry.
Lugging all your equipment around is not only draining, but very expensive considering you’ll need a larger and much more costly tour van that uses a lot more petrol. Instead, we recommend travelling light and utilising rental sites to rent what you need as you travel. Take Fat Llama, for example, which lets you rent anything from a guitar or a tambourine to a synthesiser or a drum set, for as little as a few pounds a day.
By all means, pack the necessary equipment you absolutely require, but by renting other things as you go, you can get a much smaller van and save on initial outlay costs. Such services can also be a lifesaver if your gear gets lost or damaged and you need a last-minute replacement.
Plan accommodation ahead of time
Although you might be primarily sleeping on your tour bus, you’re sure to want at least a few nights of relative comfort during the tour. A good night’s rest and a warm shower will help recharge your batteries and give you what you need to keep rocking the crowd. However, hotel costs can quickly add up on the road, which is why it’s a good idea to book cheap accommodation in advance. By using sites like AirBnB and Booking.com, you can find bargain places to stay a few weeks ahead of time.
If you are forced to stay in a hotel, however, and have decided to all share a room together to cut costs, it’s a good idea to bring a yoga mat with you. You can then put your sleeping bag on top to make things more comfortable and help you get some valuable shut-eye.