Whether you’re a new band cutting your teeth or a more established act that’s made its way around the circuit a time or two, touring makes up a major chunk of what you do as artists. It enables you to create direct connections with an audience, build your fanbase, and otherwise promote your band. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your tour, be it a handful of dates or a cross-country marathon.
Interact before you head out
Make sure the venue has your updated info and assets.
Double-check that the venue/promoter has your most recent press photos (especially if you’ve updated your look since the last ones), as well as any new videos, songs, or remixes that might be of use when promoting the show. If you’re the one sending, include the photos in one succinct, clear email to your contact at the venue.
Update your social media with dates, times, and venues.
When you announce a tour, you need to make sure that you’ve got all your online ducks in a row. This means having as confirmed a route as possible with ticket buy links from venues. To make a strong initial impact, you’ll want to roll out the full schedule across your social media (Twitter, Facebook, Instagram) as well as your band’s website.
In addition to listing the dates, one of the best ways to share your tour information is with a graphic that contains all of your tour dates. The image used can be your album artwork or an original image, but you just want to avoid something that looks cluttered or makes the dates difficult to read. Once you have this graphic put together, it makes for easy sharing across platforms. Bonus: You can send it over to promoters for them to share on their social media!
Be sure to re-up on specific dates the day before and/or day of each show. Give fans in the area a heads up and be sure to tag the proper venue account, note which day the show is, and list what time doors open.
Participate in venue takeovers.
If you have an eye for taking Instagram photos or if you have a knack for Twitter, consider talking with the venue about doing a takeover the day of your show. You can include pictures of your drive into town, snippets from your soundcheck, and photos from around town.
Visit local record stores.
There’s a lot to love about a record store, but one of the most important things is that these are folks who are slinging your records. Going on tour gives you the chance to visit these stores and interact with the clerks as well as the customers. If you’ve got time in a city to do so, stop by a local store, do some shopping, and say hey. Nothing beats quality, real-life interaction. Plus, who doesn’t love chatting about records and digging through crates? If you’re active on social media, give the store a shout-out/thank you afterwards.
Hit up local landmarks.
This falls along similar lines to the record store visit. Before you get to a city, you can prompt fans on social media for suggestions of their favorite taco places, coffee shop haunts, or eccentric locales (such as the Big Chicken just outside of Atlanta). It doesn’t hurt to do a bit of research on the side, either. If you’re pressed for time before your show, don’t sweat it. But if you’ve got an hour or two to spare, do some quality exploring. You can share your experience on social media, tag the appropriate establishments, and thank specific people for the recommendation.
Capitalize on the live show
Speak clearly and have your spiel down.
It’s understandable that talking about what you’ve got for sale during your set can feel weird or forced. So do your due diligence and work out what you want to say and how you want to say it. That way you’re not mumbling or stumbling through a URL no one will remember. You can be creative in your approach, but just make it feel right for you and let people know how they can get your music.
Work the merch table.
This is another great chance for some quality face time with your audience. Being on tour’s a grind, but if you put in effort getting to know folks and hanging out after your set for a bit, it’s going to pay off in the long run. So even if it’s only for a little bit, post up at the merch table, introduce yourself, ask them about their day – just make yourself human to your fans.
Being on tour is your chance to directly build your relationship with your fans. While this doesn’t fall under traditional press, it’s invaluable in terms of your future success. If you’re in it for the long haul, taking the time to do these things will keep you in the game.
Caroline Marchildon handles in-house publicity for Secretly Group (Dead Oceans, Jagjaguwar, Secretly Canadian, Numero Group). A Southern transplant living in the Midwest, she's a certified coffee shop hopper and weekend adventurer. Find her on Twitter @carolinefm or visit her website, carolinefm.com.