Music on the Move: Music Gear You’ll Need for a First Time Tour
Taking your music gear on the road for the first time can be a daunting task. Working as a touring musician not only requires precision, but also heavy planning and a good amount of endurance to be successful at it. Follow these guidelines to make sure your first-time tour is an awesome experience!
The One Utility You Can’t Live Without (Hint: Water!)
The only non-musical tip on this list but arguably an extremely important one is the water boiler. Fact: Having a water boiler and a few good mugs/cups will guarantee peace of mind and a lot of flexibility for making meals. Furthermore, that warm cup of Jo traveling from state-to-state will inspire a few hours of true happiness. With the water-boiler, you can easily cook up some ramen, oatmeal or any other hot meal with simple tab from any outlet on the road. Staying hydrated with a full belly will keep you in top performance shape.
Keep Your Instruments Safe
Keeping your music gear and instruments safe while on tour is essential. From set-up to sound check and performing live, there’s a lot of things that can go wrong. Do your best to plan ahead of time for unforeseen circumstances. Keep hard cases with compartments for as many instruments as you can and put stickers or labels with contact info on them. These small steps will ensure little damage occurs to your music gear. Furthermore, if someone does mistake your instrument for theirs, they can follow up with you directly.
Make Your Setup Direct
Carrying Extra DI’s make happy Sound Guys! Fact: A great sound is key to your live performance and can separate you from the thousands of other musicians who have played the same venue. Do your best to make your sound guy’s job as easy as possible by having extra DI cables available to plug into the soundboard if necessary. In this same vein, make sure to have a few extra mics, xlr cables (standard mic cables) guitar cords (monster cables are good) and strings for every one else in the band too. On the road, teamwork is important and stress can get high, do your due diligence to prepare ahead of time by having all your ducks in a row. From extra DI cables to guitar strings, you will be well equipped for playing any venue live.
Connect With Local Sponsors
To help pay for your expenses, think about how you can work out sponsorship deals with businesses in the area. If you have a lot of folks that come to your shows you have something that businesses want: Customers. Think about your music and how you can align it to specific brands. Reach out 2 months before hitting the road, find products within the local geographic region you’ll be performing at and work out a partnership deal. Example: If you are a heavy metal band, you may want to approach a local motor cycle shop and see if you can get your show flyer on their home page. In return, you can promote their shop at your venue. Approach music shops, mom & pop retail outlets to build your word-of-mouth!
The key to making your show a success though is reaching out to these local communities months in advance. Don’t wait until the last minute to get your fans to shows! Doing your homework before is what sets the successful vs. the non-successful touring musicians apart. Have a game plan & you will rock it!
Build Your Local Audience
One of the most difficult parts of touring is getting new people to your shows. Enlisting a promotion agency is one way to create buzz about your music and build a following quickly. While many artists sell their music on market places like iTunes & Other Digital Distribution Platforms, it’s important to connect outside of the online world. Try to meet local artists in the town you’re playing at and jump on board with them. Twitter is a great online resource to reach out to bands who have a similar sound as yours and connect. Try to set-up a variety of bands who match your sound/fan-base that you can play with while on the road. In return, work out a deal with them that when they come to your town, they can get on the bill with you too!
The most important aspect of touring is that everything goes smoothly. Plan in advance and have everything confirmed at least a month before the first show. Have a check list for all the music gear you will be taking with you on tour. Visit your local Jiffy Lube and make sure your vehicle is in good shape to make the journey. Change the oil, check the tire pressure, brakes and wheel rotation. Make sure to fill up a gasoline can in case of a breakdown. Pack some healthy snacks – trail mix is cheap and good for you along with Odwalla and Nutrigrain Bars. Keep in mind, you will be sharing a small space with a few others. Do your best to have some food available when you’ve traveled 6 hours non-stop and need something good to chew on. Finally make sure you have at least 5-6 gallons of extra water & some sleeping bags if god forbid you hit a cold-front and you need to camp out for the night. Maintaining this check-list along with a “Be Prepared” mentality will ensure your first tour is a huge success!