Going on tour can be a daunting task. You have to plan the tour, book the shows, and then scrape together your budget to make the tour happen… And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.
Many DIY bands never go on tour because they don't know where to start. They get overwhelmed by the amount of information available and never tour on a sustainable level.
In this episode, we cover three important tips you need to know before your next tour. Listen now to learn what they are!
What you’ll learn:
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#83: Booking and Playing 150+ Shows a Year (While Working a Day Job): Troy Millette and The Fire Below
Head on over to Bandhive.rocks/roadready to sign up for the waiting list again? That is Bandhive.rocks/roadready. if you want to learn how to book more shows, get paid and love your next DIY. Jumping into the episode for today though, the first [00:01:00] tip is just be ready to roll with the changes when you're out on the road. Things change constantly. It can be really frustrating, especially if you're like me and you like having a plan in place for everything, it can be really difficult to deal with plans changing.
But the good news is if you plan ahead, You can come up with a plan B and a plan C. So when something does go wrong, you always have another plan. You have a backup plan. I'm not saying plan it out to plan Z or anything, just B and C, but this way you are prepared. And when something changes, it might still be a little annoying, but you don't have that stress of what do we do now because you already have it figured out.
So by mentally preparing yourself for anything to change at any time. This helps you stay ahead of that curve and avoid that extra stress. Another reason for this is that if you're chill and flexible, you'll be leaving a good impression on the people you work with because no one likes a diva or worse.
A Karen [00:02:00] I've worked with artists who are super chill and laid back like my friend, Troy Millette, he's amazing. Goes with the flow. Externally you don't see anything, but internally, maybe he's feeling a little bit stressed. I don't know, but externally he's just like the nicest dude ever and goes with the flow.
If you're interested in learning more about Troy and how he plays hundreds of shows a year, you can listen to episode 83 of the podcast where we interviewed him, just head on over to Bandhive.rocks/83.
Slash 83, that's the numbers, eight and three. And you can hear our interview with him because really he talks about going with the flow. He talks about the systems and processes he uses. That is really useful information. If you're looking to get out on the road and play more shows again, before the pandemic, he was playing about 150 shows a year while working a day job, that is incredibly impressive.
He just has the hustle. He has the grind down. It's really amazing. And just last week as the time of this recording, he actually opened [00:03:00] for Bowling For Soup at a show here in Vermont, and he set up the show. He booked bowling for soup and got people to show up and also obviously opened the show.
So really cool stuff that Troy's doing. I highly recommend listening to that episode. And of course you don't just give them, listen on Spotify or whatever platform you prefer because he's got some really good stuff out there.
So going back to just being chill and flexible is really good. And then I've worked with artists who are not chill or flexible in any way. I once did sound for a guy who was on the voice and this was a small venue. There were maybe 20 people there and this guy wasn't even on the voice, he worked with the voice to like coach the artists who were on the voice, but he was billing himself as having been on the voice. And he had a manager and everything, and it was just, it was an acoustic gig with, you know, 20 people there.
And his manager kept saying, Hey, can you turn it up? Can you turn it up? And I said, no, we're at our limit for the sound. We can't turn it up anymore because we have neighbors. I'm sorry. Like three or four times. I just had to finally like tell the [00:04:00] guy, look, I can't do anything. Stop bothering me because you're messing up my flow.
The show's not going to sound as good. Just leave me alone. The dude like the artist was, he was okay. It was really the manager that was being a jerk, but either way that reflected poorly on the artist, you know, and with 20 people there, you don't need it to be blazing loud. People can hear the music just fine.
It's not like an acoustic set is going to have crazy base where people are jumping around and that kind of stuff. It's an acoustic set. So be flexible, be chill because I will forever remember that dude from the voice as being kind of a diva and I don't want to work with him again. I would work with Troy or somebody who's chill anytime because it's so much easier and more pleasant to work with somebody who has a good attitude, even when things go wrong. My second tip is to learn from your experiences because everything you do on the road is a learning experience. And there's always something you can improve on the next time you do it or never do again, if it was a mistake. so [00:05:00] when you're on the road, make notes of your experiences and what you perceive to have learned, anything new that sticks out to you as important information you want to refer back to that, right?
Go and get a notebook or put it in your notes app and write down everything you think is important that you should retain as knowledge for future tours. And then at the end of that tour, go over it with your band mates and see what their thoughts were and what they have to add, because maybe they agree.
Maybe they disagree. Maybe they don't care. It all depends on what the situation is, but talking it over with your band is a really good way to see what worked and what didn't and make sure you're not just in a bubble where you think something was great and everybody else has man, not really, or the other way around.
And he thought something wasn't so good. And the rest of the band loved it. And your audience. So go over this with your bandmates and make sure that you're all on the same page, because ultimately if you can build your knowledge, every tour you [00:06:00] do, then your future tours will be bigger, better, and easier to handle.
It's all about learning from your experiences. You know, I've worked hundreds of shows and every single show I worked, I learned something. You know, even if it was something as simple as like, oh, you know, this venue has this layout. I still remembered the next year. I would go back to the venue and say, oh, okay.
I know where stuff is because I've been to this venue before. That's nothing game changing, but just knowing the venue or the area around the venue is really helpful. Especially, you know, if you're doing tours where you're not driving yourself and you're not really familiar with the area, cause you just, you know, you show up at the venue and then you're there.
It's really good to know what is around you. So when you go back the next year, you know, oh, this venue that we're going to be at tomorrow, there's a grocery store across the street. We can get some groceries. Or, oh, this venue, they have vegan pizza right around the corner. We can get vegan pizza. Like all of that stuff really adds up.
And a lot of the times when I was on the road, they would be [00:07:00] places that I would go back to because I knew, Hey, in this city, I can go eat here. And it's really good. So I would go back to that specific spot because I'd been there in the year before, and it's just easy to say, Hey, this is around the corner from the venue so I can make.
And that's just, you know, non show stuff. As far as show stuff, you know, there were security people that I met at one venue in Dallas, Texas. I met a security guard my first year on warp tour and he was in the same spot the next year I went back and then the third year he was again at that same spot. So he must've been a supervisor or something.
Cause he was always guarding that same. But I knew him. And by the third year, you know, we knew each other, so I'd be like, oh, Hey, what's up, man? I don't remember his name. Unfortunately, it's now been eight years since the first time I was there, but he was super chill. We'd chat a little bit about how life had been, and then I'd go on with my day, but we knew each other.
And I knew that if anything happened, security would have my back because I was tight with that one security guard. It's all about [00:08:00] establishing those relationships. And especially at smaller clubs, a lot of times you're going to be working with the same people over and over because they don't have the same massive staffing that larger venues do.
So unless they have some turnover internally, you're going to talk to the same bartenders, the same sound people, the same security staff, all that is going to be relatively the same. If you go back and play there. So learn the people's names, learn stuff about the venue, learn about what makes your set good or not good.
Learn about how to mix your monitors. If you're mixing your own monitors, learn the basics of mixing front of house in case there no front of house engineer, these are all valuable skills. And by picking up on what is going on around you and making note of these things, you will be far better off. Tip number three is don't stress yourself out.
You know, this can be really difficult for people if you're anxious about the tour or just in general stress, because it's a new situation and, you know, [00:09:00] getting stressed on tour is easy. It just happens. Like it comes naturally for most people. I remember one year I was on warp tour and we did this thing on my team called highlights and challenges.
I would just always have a good day and I'd be like, oh, highlight, you know, the weather was really nice. It was beautiful day. Like this was great challenge. I think the worst thing that ever happened to me as far as challenges was I stepped in gum and I remember that day, somebody else on the team said, James, you always have such a good day.
The worst thing that happened to you was you stepped in gum and I'm like, yeah, I stepped in gum. That was really annoying. Like, that's the worst thing that happened to me all tour so far. And so. I'm like a lot of people on the team got really stressed about it. And I was just like, okay, whatever. Like somebody yelled at me, you know, whatever.
Like, I don't care. I let it bounce off. I stepped in gum though that messed up my day. Cause I had to spend 20 minutes cleaning a gum off the bottom of my shoe with a stick. I didn't want to be sticking to the ground all day. That was honestly annoying people being stupid.
I can walk away. Gum. Not really. I mean, I can walk away from it, but [00:10:00] that sticks. that was annoying. And so other people were so stressed out and I was just like, chill, whatever. It's fine. So being less stressed means you can enjoy your tours more. That's why I always had good highlights when we were doing those highlights and challenges.
I was excited about going out and having my day on the tour. Like that was fine. if you're less stressed, you'll also be able to put on a better show because you have a clear mind.
Obviously you don't want to be stressed. And this goes back partially to point number one, being ready to roll with changes. Like if you go with the changes easily, there's less stress, but you know, obviously managing a tour, it means you have to stay on top of a lot of things and having all that stuff in your mind can really stress you out just by itself.
I know from before I used these tools that I'm going to mention, I was always stressing out about, oh, I have to remember to do this. I have to remember to do that. All these things I have to write. Now I just use apps like Todoist and Trello to unload my mental burden of anything that I don't [00:11:00] need to actively remember.
So Todoist helps me keep track of all the tasks that need to be done. And Trello lets me track the progress of each show that I'm working on. Todoist is a great to do tool. It's a lot more powerful than apple reminders or other similar apps.
And it actually syncs with your Google calendar and it can block stuff out if you want it to, or it can not block stuff depending on how you set it up. I've been using it for about four years and it literally controls my day to day work. It's the easiest way I've found to stay on top of what I have to do on a day to day basis.
Super easy. I can add stuff via my Amazon echo. I can add stuff via my phone. I can add stuff on my computer. It's all sinked. It's super, super easy. And there's a free version. Like I highly recommend it. I have the paid version, which is, I think $36 a year, but if you don't want to shell out $36, that's. The free version is going to do pretty much everything you need. I remember when I was using the free version, I don't think there was anything really. That was [00:12:00] frustrating to me, except one minor feature.
And that's why I paid the $36, but it's not something that I really absolutely needed. It just made my life a little. On the other hand, Trello is a totally different beast from Todoist. It lets you track projects because it is a project management tool. So you can have what's called a Trello card. and that is essentially a project.
Whether it's a show or a song, you can use it in all kinds of different ways. But the way I would use it for a tour is each show has its own card. And then there are sub tasks for things like initial outreach book, the show, do the advance, play the show, settle the show, which means getting paid, all that stuff adds up.
And there's a lot more, I think there's like a 15 or 20 step process that I have in the template that I created for this. So you can go and make a Trello card, use it as a template. And then every single show you book, you know, you have a card or every single show you want to book. I should say That way you never forget anything [00:13:00] and you make sure it's all done for every single show, because you can look at these cards and say, oh, this is what still needs to be done. It's a really amazing tool for that. So using this combination of a task management tool and a project management tool, lets you move work from your brain to an app.
So you can have a lighter load, be less stressed and enjoy more time on the road. and really hope that these three chips are going to help you on the road. If you've toured before I also want to hear what are your top three tips? You can let us know in the Bandhive, Facebook community, either by searching for Bandhive on Facebook, or by going to Bandhive.rocks/group, there'll be a thread for this episode. Just drop a comment and let me know what are your top three tips? Because I would love to hear.
That does it for this episode of the Bandhive podcast. Thank you so much for tuning in and listening. I really appreciate it. And I also really hope that these three tips have helped you to kind of wrap your head around what is required for touring and what will make you a more effective tour manager for [00:14:00] your band and just less stressed in general.
Like I said at the start of the episode road ready, will be available soon. It is designed to help you book more shows, get paid and love ear next DIY tour. visit Bandhive.rocks/roadready to join the waitlist and get a heads up when the course is available, I highly recommend it. It is going to be so useful for any artist who wants to go hit the road.
And doesn't already have years of experience tour managing themselves. This course really takes what is done at the top level and adapts it to be used by DIY artists. So you can have a leg up over the competition. Who's just kind of winging it and has no idea what they're doing. You will be that band out there who has the knowledge, skills, and systems in place to book more shows, get paid and love your next DIY tour.
And that way you will be noticed by people. In the industry because you're taking yourself seriously and you actually know what you're doing. [00:15:00] So again, visit bandhive.rocks/roadready I really hope to see you in the course, because I think it will be extremely useful for you. We'll be back with another brand new episode of the Bandhive podcast next Tuesday at 6:00 AM right here in your favorite podcast app until then I hope you have a great week stay safe.
And of course, as always keep rockin'
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