Playing shows on the road is an awesome experience for a new band. However, your band won’t have a whole lot of luck with its first live road shows if they don’t realize that things go a little bit differently in a new town, and you’re going to have to keep a few things in mind before expecting to excel at out of town gigs.
Here are four tips for making the most of any of your band’s on-the-road shows.
1. Confirm every show. You’d be surprised at how often venues forget about bands that they’ve booked, or how often they simply forget to promote a show. You can avoid all sorts of issues and show how professional your band is simply by calling a few weeks before a road gig and confirming the show. Send some flyers to the venue with the date on them, so that their whole staff knows when you’re playing there. There’s nothing worse than showing up after a long drive to a venue and be met with blank stares.
2. Don’t forget to promote. You will always have a bad show when nobody shows up, but you can only have a good show when you’ve got somewhat of a crowd. It’s the most basic principle of live music. Don’t take it for granted–your band needs to do everything in its power to get people out at your road gigs, whether that’s making phone calls, hitting up MySpace and Facebook, or something else, make sure that you actually promote. If nobody shows up anyways, it was probably a dead night or a dead town, and the venue will always appreciate your efforts.
3. Get at least one local band on the bill with you. It helps with getting a crowd to the gig, especially if you help them promote with flyers and tips, and you can potentially get more shows in the same city by forming a good working relationship with that band. Some of the best friendships I’ve ever made have started because I was trying to book a show in a certain city, so don’t try to go it alone–a marginally better payday isn’t worth it, and if your band sells merch, you could even make more money by having a second(or even a third or fourth) band on the bill.
4. Plan for the problems of the road. Road gigs always have one thing in common: you have to drive to them. Be prepared for flat tires, angry policemen, weather, and anything else that might crop up. On extended tours, bring your own food, as fast food will cost too much and make you gain a lot of weight. Try to plan ahead, though, and you’ll be fine.
Do you have any tips for playing road shows? Post in our comments section below.