As a DIY artist, you probably have a lot of questions on how to put together a tour – questions are good! In fact, there are three extremely important questions you need to ask yourself before you even start thinking about hitting the road if you want your tour to be at all successful.
This question is actually pretty simple, but it's very important to be clear about how long your tour will be. Combined with your answers for the next two questions, you'll have a better understanding of your tour as a whole.
Don't underestimate your need for a day off – I've gone 12 straight show days on Warped Tour and it was brutal. A year or two after my last year on the road, they had 21 days in a row before a day off. Don't do that to yourself!
Based on the answers above, you'll know how many shows you can fit into your schedule. For example, if you plan a 3-week tour and want to play no more than four shows in a row you can plan 17 shows: you would take days 5, 10, 15, and 20 off, leaving the other 17 days (1-4, 6-9, 11-14, 16-19, 21) for shows.
To be honest, I'd probably drop the show on day 21 off the tour, or just tough it out and do five shows in a row (ending with a show on day 20), to avoid having just one show after an off day.
With these answers, you now know exactly 1. how many days you will be on the road and 2. how many of those days you can expect income (since you won't earn money on off days).
This allows you to budget for your tour, with an understanding that costs will vary slightly from show days to off days.
1. What will your daily and total costs be?
2. Are you getting a big enough guarantee to make a profit? (Note: if you're just starting out, you won't – plan for a big loss)
3. Can you and your bandmates cover the losses you budget for?
4. Is this tour bringing you closer to your goal of having a sustainable career in music? If not, don't tour as tempting as it might be.
We dedicated an entire episode of the Bandhive Podcast to tour budgeting, you can listen now: Losing $11,000 on Tour… What NOT to Do
It can seem daunting, but with the right framework it can be quite easy! Over the past decade I've been using a homemade app (thanks to Google Sheets) that allows me to plan out all my tours quickly and easily. It's available now, get your copy here!