So something that a lot of bands seem to struggle with is booking tours without making fools of themselves by posting all over social media. This is not the way to go, it means that people don’t take you seriously and that you’re not building yourself up towards success. Instead it just makes you look like a pretender relying on the charitability of your friends and friends of friends in order to get onto shows that they have no business being on. By the same token it reminds promoters and fans that you really aren’t at a point where you should be touring. In other words, you’re fucking yourself for the long run and fucking yourself hard. No one wants to do that, but it’s the grim reality that we have turned ourselves in for. So how do you book tours without going to Facebook a month out and asking about “If anyone can fill these holes” and “Guarantees are the ideal!” so that people think you’re a legit band and not a joke.
First and foremost it’s key to be a part of your goddamn scene. If you’re not a part of the scene then how are you going to find people who want to help? Realize that these networks of people who can help put on shows are rather closely guarded. The simple fact of the matter is that promoters are often overwhelmed with requests from people to make shit happen and that just makes their lives more complicated than they need to be. So you need to look at it from that perspective. Now if promoters also want to focus on booking their friends then suddenly you’re looking at a serious conflict of interests because their friends don’t want to alienate promoters by giving them a million shitty shows. Rather they want the promoters to still like them. The point being – this is part of why people don’t post to those Facebook threads. They would rather have someone privately contact them so that they can put it together if they deem it fit.
This ties into something else – private messenger apps are really the way to go. Most people don’t like talking shop in a public setting, especially in the rather insular world of independent music. Yeah there’s no money and everything is shitty but the fans don’t mean to know that, the girls don’t need to know that. I know that’s probably sexist but you get what I’m trying to say. You want to be able to grow your brand, constantly posting on Facebook asking for shows you can ‘hop on’ isn’t growing a brand but rather just throwing everyone in the scene under the bus. If you can reach out to people who you think might have a hookup quietly and respectfully then they are going to be much more respectful of your desire to put together a badass tour. You just have to make sure that you’re hitting up the right people and not wasting everyones time.
I have a spreadsheet of my music contacts around the country. Now not all of them are promoters but all of them have people and those people are able to help me more over the long term. This is a key issue that we all have to confront. You need to regionally reach out to people. Maybe your guy in Detroit can hook you up with folks in Fort Wayne and Cleveland too because the odds are his bands play around there all the time. There is no shame in breaking out a map and then hitting people up with the goal of trying to find a routing that makes the most sense for you and which will hopefully generate you a little bit of profit. If you look at these regions and constantly act as a positive force, engaging in online groups within the scene, having real friendships with other people and grinding it out the proper way then you are going to start finding the sort of long term success that you have for so long craved and fought for.
As a final note, we have this whole illusion of ‘supporting the touring band’ but as many promoters have learned, the touring band often sucks! This is a huge part of why people are so reticent to take on tours. Yeah it’s a lot of work and it’s stressful and annoying, but beyond that spending hours promoting a show only to lose seventy bucks isn’t a good or sustainable thing. Maybe your band doesn’t lose people money but so many bands have lost so many promoters money that the general attitude is very leery eyed. Toss in the fact that a lot of bands act like entitled grumpy assholes and you start to realize that this entire scene is struggling under the weight of a broken ethos that very few of us will ever be able to understand simply because most people are smart enough to not lose a bunch of money every few weeks on trying to bring in a band literally only they care about. Think about it this way, if you have to humiliate yourself with a Facebook post begging for shows… maybe you shouldn’t be playing shows.
At the end of the day, it all comes down to who you know and the realization that the Facebook hail mary post rarely ever works and the people who can help you are probably people who you knew could help you in the first place but who you were too lazy to reach out too, further alienating them. So don’t be a dick, show that you have at least a fragment of initiative and then try and turn that into something real you can grow for the future. I know a lot of these articles boil down to the same points, but guess what? There’s a reason for that – because the deeper that you entrench yourself with your peers than the quicker you find success.
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