1. Calculate a budget.
2. Team up, if needed.
3. Make an EPK.
4. Start planning 4-6 months before the tour.
5. Map out your route. Which cities? How much driving do you want? Pauses, day-offs, where r u gonna sleep?
6. Approach and book venues. Remember about the back-ups.
7. Make tour artwork, send to venues and your street team in advance. Contact the local press.
8. Create a FB event and start a FB ad campaign. Start a promo campaign at least 6 weeks before the show.
Consider hiring a booking agent or a road manager. A booking agent will build a list of venues, book them and organise the dates. An agent can also put together packages, i.e. two or more musicians in one show. A road manager handles small to medium-sized tours and a tour manager organises a large scale tour, everything from finances to the logistics. With a larger budget, the team could also consist of a designated driver, business manager, videographers, sound technicians etc. Ask the fans to be your street team in cities that you’re planning to go on tour. They can help you with spreading out flyers and posters. You can reward them with gig tickets and merchandise. Ask in advance who’s willing to be in your team and send them all of that stuff by mail.
You need a good electronic press kit (EPK). Include only your best material and keep it up-to-date. Your best songs should be put to the top of the list. Include videos of your live performance. It proves that you’re not only great in a studio, but also as a live act. Include your music videos, as they are used for your gig promotion. Make sure that your website and social media pages are updated, as the promoters will want to see what’s your audience like. Include your best press photo that matches your music style, as it will be also used for the promotion. Have several high-quality live photos. A well-written bio makes it easier for the promoters to describe you to the public, so keep it short and copy/pasty. Keep your calendar updated, cos a consistent schedule proves that you’re improving as a live performer and that you’re building the fanbase. Don’t forget about including the good press.
Start planning 4-6 months before the tour. You need time to decide on cities, venues and promotion. The route and the schedule are never perfect. There will be backtracking, it’s normal. Start with creating a map at Google MyMaps (there you can add custom markers, routes etc.). Add cities that you want to visit, but not far from each other to avoid burnout. Don’t forget to plan stops, day-offs, accommodation etc. Create a Google calendar with the potential tour date range. Start emailing venues, adding them to the calendar and marking “on hold”. Once they are set, mark them “confirmed” and add contact information to the event description.
I doubt that there ever be a good database with all venues, agencies and promoters in Europe. Reverbnation.com has a decent list, but just use it to find venues and don’t book gigs via the service. Most of the time you’ll have to find the gigs on your own.
Make a list of 10 bands that are similar to you in the way of:
1. Style of music played
2. Talent levels
3. Fanbase size
Search for these bands online, check FB events to see where they performed and the size of the venue. Choose smaller venues over big ones, i.e. it’s better to have it packed than to leave a big one empty and therefore disappointing the promoters. Usually, you can see who is promoting the event on FB and approach the promoter. Ask people for venues and promoters in FB groups of that country/city in advance.
The best way to book the gigs at your local venues is through bands with whom you’ve established a relationship. You can also consider doing a gig swap with them. Open for a band at their hometown and vice versa. You can put a show together with them and approach the booker with a package. Write a short email to the booker with the names of the bands (starting with the most established band at that venue), date range, the expected turnout number and a bit about how you’re gonna promote the show. If you don’t hear anything from a booker in one week, send a follow-up email. Don’t forget to add links to your social media pages and your music. If you don’t get a response after a while, give the booker a call. When the show is booked, send the confirmation email with all the details that you agreed on, i.e. date, city, venue, door time, drink/food deal, etc. The confirmation email will work as a contract at small venues.
Write to the local media that you’re coming in advance. Tell them that you’re ready for the interview and could provide gig tickets in return. You could also ask a venue if they have a media list that you could contact.