FAQ touring with a band or ensemble

A tour is a structural part of a career plan. For example, in promotion of a new album or to build a name for yourself. There are two ways to experience a tour as a (pop) band: as a support act or as a headliner (main act). In classical music, there are no support acts.

Preparation

Answer the following questions with all who is involved: What is the goal for the coming year and the subsequent five years? How often do you want to, and can you, perform per year? How often do you need to rehearse in that case? How much time will everyone have left outside this band or ensemble and is that acceptable to everyone? Make sure that you start approaching the venues at least seven months before the start of the tour, as there are a lot of bands out there and venues often fill their calendars well in advance. In the case of theatres, you often have to consider approaching them one year beforehand. Prior to the confirmed tour, you have to arrange a number of things or have them arranged by your booking agency and/or tour manager.

Financial administration and contracts
When you are just beginning, you usually work with a total fee statement form (tax facility for performing artists). In the case of a general partnership (VOF), foundation, private limited company (BV) or one-man business, you can send an invoice. You must draw up a contract for each show. What will happen, for example, if the drummer is ill and the venue owner is left with a full house and expenses incurred (staff, rental of technical equipment, etc.)? The contract includes logistical agreements about the show, such as the place, date, performance time, the riders and the financial agreements, such as the amount of the fee and the payment mode. There is also often a media clause in the contract. That means that if you are invited to do a show on television or radio, you can automatically make use of this.

Budget
You should list all the expenses and revenues in a budget. The fees that you will receive, but also any fees you may have to pay yourself, publicity costs, debits, travel expenses and costs for faulty equipment are often the most important points. You can try to generate extra revenue through merchandise, sponsoring and holding clinics.

Technical preparation
Most beginning bands do not have their own sound, monitor or light engineer. In that case, it is important to prepare the in-house engineer as well as possible for your show. Send a technical rider in advance, an input list and a stage plot. Please note! Make sure that the riders are always an integral part of the contract. It will then be in black and white what obligations the venue has to fulfil and what you need to bring yourself in terms of equipment and personnel.

Travel plan
Make sure that you make a travel plan (itinerary) for each show, which should include, in any case, times, show information, mode of transport, locations and addresses, telephone numbers of contact persons, etc. A tour manager (and a crew) that come along to arrange all the ancillary matters, such as transport, equipment and contact with venues, is not an unnecessary luxury, but does cost extra money. Whether you are going on tour in your own country or abroad: plan in advance how far you can travel between the shows, where you will stay overnight and when you will schedule days off. You should also think about other activities that are part and parcel of the tour, such as interviews for the (local) radio.

Promotion
Once you’ve finally arranged a tour, how will you fill the venues? Build up a good relationships with your audience/fans and think carefully about how you can reach out to them. Which channels will you use? Will you reach out to them with an online campaign? A poster hanging in a bar, canteen or on a lamppost? Remember that your revenue is linked to ticket sales in the case of a club tour, so full venues are good for you, as well as the venue.

Support act (pop music)

If you are a support act, assume that you will be left with nothing financially from the tour and you should be happy if you cover your expenses. See it as a valuable investment. As a support act for a popular band, you can perform to a full house and reach more people than if you performing under your own name. If the main act’s music style is almost the same, it may also gain you new fans.

Follow-up activities

After touring, it is important to properly evaluate how things went? Who came to your shows, have you got more followers on social media and/or have more people signed up to your newsletter? Send a thank-you note to the venues you played at and state that would like to come back again. It is also important to archive photos, videos and other content, so you can use this at a later stage. Examples may include an aftermovie of your tour or perhaps you have cool audio tracks that you can release. You can also draw up a financial balance sheet. Did you earn money from the tour? Did it end up being more expensive or slightly cheaper than expected? Draw on your experiences for future tours.