by J.P. Kallio
Check out my helpful musician quick touring tips!! In my nearly two decades as a full time musician I have learned a thing or two about this business. I also have become very fast at assessing what works and what does not when it comes to promoting, recording and performing your music.
These quick tips are simple actions that you can put to use straight away
Also you check out my full blog for more HERE:
Touring tip 1
Right so, as you might know I am on tour with Sliotar at the moment. And I thought it might be time to give some touring tips for those of you embarking on your first tour. I’ll be posting these tips for the next few days, so stay tuned. These tips will genuinely keep you alive!
The first one is water. Never under-estimate the importance of staying hydrated. Most festivals are on summer time, when the weather will be hotter, and traveling, loading gear, sound checking in the sun and playing shows will make you sweat a lot. But even on winter tours you need to remember to keep drinking water.
Water will keep your singing voice in order and it will literally keep you alive. I drink a lot of water anyway, so my water intake can easily reach more than four litres a day. But at the very minimum I would recommend two litres a day. And this is pure water, coffee, beer, juice or fizzy drinks do not count.
Touring tip 2
Touring tip number two, allow time for things to go wrong. Where ever you need to be, plan to be there early. I know the extra hour of sleep might sound tempting, but that extra hour might come to bite you in the backside when you are stuck in a traffic jam on a motor way for hours.
And when you arrive into a venue you have never played in before, there are a hundred and one things that can go wrong, and require time to fix. Or even more so when you play in a venue where you have played in before, and assume you know how the night is going to run, but you never know what has changed since your last show there.
So allow your self an extra hour or two every day on tour. The worse thing that can happen is that everything runs smoothly and you end up with bit of time to kill. That is much better option than being stuck on the road and missing your own show.
Touring tip 3
This one goes for festival shows, or band nights, where there are more than one band performing on the night. I watched a band, who’s name I will not mention here, but lets just say they are professional band with years of touring experience. On a tightly run festival schedule, they stretched out their setup and sound check well over an hour. They actually managed to alienate them selves with parts of the audience, who were patiently waiting.
And after the show, the band headed out to have the usual after show fun, while their sound man and the drummer clear all of the bands equipment off the stage. This took them nearly forty-five minutes, while the next band were waiting to line check and play their set, which was running very late.
Never ever think you are somehow more important than the other bands on the program. Be respectful of their time, and practice your setup before the set and the taking down of your equipment as well. With Sliotar we have turned sound checks nearly in to fine art. If the sound man is ready for us, we can set up and sound check in less than 30 mins, and that’s with a full drum kit. This make us much more professional looking, and most sound crews love working with us-
Touring tip 4
When I started to book our first long tour withSliotar, I was hungry for the gigs, and didn’t mind the long drives. But as soon as we hit the road, I realised the error in my planning. Scheduling will be the decider between a great show or a mediocre show. I know there are bands who do crazy drives to get to the next show, and I have seen these bands in action. I can tell you no one is going to perform their best show ever after eight-hour drive.
As soon as we got back from that first tour, we restructured our touring. Now we never do more than four-hour drive on a day of a show. If we have a long drive, we break it down to smaller drives. If you do ten shows night after night, and travel everyday, your show will start to deteriorate. If you disagree with me, that’s fine, go ahead and compromise your shows. But if you have any sense, schedule your drives sensibly. I have booked successful (and safe) tours for Sliotar for the past ten years, I have fair idea what I am talking about.
Also there are strict rules about tour bus drivers taking breaks, and even though these days we drive with a van, not tour bus, we follow these rules. The detailed rules can be found HERE. But our simplified rule is, every two hours, we take a break for minimum fifteen minutes, stretch legs, visit toilet, buy a snack, water or coffee. If the drive is longer, the second break is bit longer. You end up spending long hours on the road and the likelihood of you ending up in an accident grows with every kilometre. So it is only sensible to play it safe.
Touring tip 5
Tour budgeting. For starters, you will spend more money on the tour than you think. And the longer the tour is, the more little things like the quality of your hotel room starts to become bigger things. Also it is fine to share some of the nights, but you also need your own space from time to time. So I would highly recommend you spend that extra few bucks atlas few times a week, to get a good night sleep without listening to your band mates snore.
If you are touring around Europe, the price varies a bit, but in general I would budget €50 for every band member per day for accommodation. I know some bands out there do like to couch surf, and that is a great way to save on expenses, but in a long run you will need to budget for hotels. Food, coffee at the petrol station, bottles of water, my usual budget for all of this is around €20 a day.
Days off are a killer for your personal finances. You are spending money, without making any. And lets not forget, many of you’s will spend a small fortune on beer on the days off, I know I have in the past.
Then there is the travel. Having a car that is economical to drive, is the key to making money from your tours. And I also talked about the reliability of your car, and the effect it might have on making it to the gig in past blog posts. Also take in consideration toll roads in France, and some countries have a fee for using the motorways. Usually these fees are worth the money. The small roads will add hours to your journeys If you book well in advance, you can get deals on the budget airlines around Europe, but don’t expect to be able to bring your instruments as carry on luggage.
So as you can see, it all adds up fast, so not every pub gig that pays barely enough to cover your accommodation is worth driving 400km for. And getting good at selling your merchandise is extremely important. Careful planning is vital, so do the maths before you hit the road. There is nothing worse than being stranded at the side of the road in a foreign country with no money in our pocket.