Young, ambitious artists will find nothing more romantic than the thought of touring the country in a van for several months. Tours are essential for getting attention, building audiences and carving performance experience. They also help to build industry connections. Artists who frequently tour are often the first to be noticed by managers and labels when they look for new artists. While touring can be a great opportunity for artists, some serious drawbacks and costs must be considered. If you have a “let’s go tour until we make it” mindset, your band could be disbanded instead of moving closer to your goals.
Long hours can be challenging for artists who are just starting.
It makes sense to tour if you find success with your music at home. Your audience will grow the more you play shows. Maybe. Maybe not. Many factors can affect the success of your tour. But let’s not get into them. Let’s instead focus on the realities of touring with unknown artists. Likely, your music isn’t making money if you are a new artist. You might make a bit from streaming revenue and a cut of the door from your shows every night, but is this enough to pay the rent/mortgage/student loans for you and your bandmates? You will most likely lose money every day you are on the road. You can’t expect your bills to stop because you pursue your dream. If you are lucky enough to be able to work remotely, being on the road means you will have to leave your home job. Even if you have a remote job, employers won’t approve of the idea that people work and travel for several months at a stretch.
Even if money is not an issue on long tours, there are many costs that you need to consider. Your relationships will be tested, and your mental health may be at risk. If you are a new artist, the greatest challenge of touring is that it can be very difficult to record, write, and produce new music while on the road. What are your goals if you plan to travel for several months? Is your music so promising that you feel it is worth sacrificing the ways you use at home to create new music? We are long past the days of making a record and then touring for years with it. Listeners today are more hungry for new music than ever. You risk losing your audience if you delay releasing new music. This is especially true if you aren’t an established artist. Most musicians in this situation will choose to stay at home and write new music. This is true regardless of whether you are a new band searching for an audience or an artist looking to find a publisher or label.
These are the best tours for artists in development.
You don’t need to take long tours to distant cities that you will never be able to return to. Instead, choose shorter tours that are more specific to your goals. Consider going back to the same city as before to visit a label you are interested in working with. Instead of spending weeks or months touring the country, consider regional weekend tours that are more affordable and closer to your home. You can enhance your experience and reach your goals with shorter tours. You can build your experience by choosing cities close to your home and easily accessible. You get the advantages of touring, financial stability, and the freedom to be productive by being able to return home when you need. This is a great balance for your band that will allow you to spend more time at home and give you valuable performance opportunities on tour.