Man oh man… work has been VERY slow lately but luckily it won’t be that way for long.
Anyway, let’s talk about when it is time for your band to hit the road.
There are some hard hitting facts in regards to hitting the road. By this I mean there can be analytical data you can use to gauge when it is the proper time. I would say, if we are using these standards, they would fall under the following –
When promoters are always hitting you up to play shows for big name (A-list, B-list, C-list – not just locals) acts.
When your draw is 50+ at each show (that’s YOUR draw, as in YOUR door tally, not the ENTIRE show tally).
When you are attracting the attention of larger out of town acts.
When you are attracting the attention of out of town promoters.
I think this is the easiest guide for when you would want to start hitting the road. I live in Florida and Florida is a fortunate state in that we have about six different solid markets (for hard rock/metal). They are Tampa, Orlando, Jacksonville, Miami, Fort Lauderdale, and (now) Fort Myers. So you can start hitting the road, knocking out a show in each of these cities in a month, easily.
But that isn’t really a tour, is it? I mean, if you do Friday and Saturday every week for three weeks you will be able to hit each of the following markets. Now, you can do this, and it would be a smart idea, and once you do this you can follow the same analytical standards listed above, but the truth is that will take A LOT of time. Shit, being able to hit those standards in one city is hard enough.
So here comes the other school of thought… your band is ready to tour when your band is ready to tour.
Personally, I like the first way of doing things. Not that I am in a band but to be fair you are going to have a very difficult time getting booked without having a strong home base. Understand that promoters want to book bands that will bring people in the door. If you are not even drawing at home, why would they risk the open slot on you? Doesn’t make sense when we look at it from that perspective.
The next school of thought… when you can be apart of a tour package.
This CAN BE a good idea. But you also have to think about this from the promoters end. Who is the tour package? Have they been through this area before? If so, where was the show? Who promoted it? How did it do? How long ago was it?
Again, it has to be worth it for us (the promoter). Now, you can buy into a tour package, and it might be worth it. If the tour package you are buying into is with an A-list or B-list band, and the buy in price is reasonable, then by all means, go for it. Just keep in mind the just because you can afford it doesn’t mean that you will automatically be taken on. The higher the headliner on the package the more they will want supporting acts who are already established and have some following. For instance, you’ll never see A Day To Remember touring who Band Nobody out of Whogivesashitville because Band Nobody simply isn't on the same platform as A Day To Remember. Not fair? Welcome to life.
If the opportunity to buy into a tour package comes up with a C-list band, I wouldn’t pay much. 9 times out of 10 if you are buying into a tour package you are not getting any kind of show guarantee, so that means you will have to try to recuperate 100% of the touring travel cost, buy in cost, per diem cost, and more from merchandise. Seeing as it is a C-list band, chances are the shows aren’t going to be overly stacked. Meaning less people to buy your merch. Make sense?
I hope this helps you think about when it is really the right time to hit the road. We all want to tour. Touring is a lot of fun. But we also need to make smart business decisions with ourselves.