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How do bands book tours?

Discussion in 'Band Wagon' started by shtuck, Sep 25, 2020.

  1. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    I recently realized I have no idea how bands book tours, especially if they move all the way up to amphitheaters amd arenas. I'm guessing when your starting out you have to call nightclubs and beg them to let you play. But what about when a band moves to theaters? Does the band have to request to play at a theater, and somehow prove they can draw a crowd? Do they suffer any kind of financial penalty if the show doesn't draw? Does the process flip when you move up to big festivals and outdoor arenas? At that point are you being invited to play?
     
  2. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    I know it sounds stupid and naive, but I really dont know. I always kind of imagined if you were good, somehow you got more and more offers. But Im thinking a more accurate description would be if you are good, and you bust your butt hounding people for gigs, you might one day... Far off...have folks asking you to play.
     
  3. 63telemaster

    63telemaster Tele-Meister

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    There are several ways depending on the venue and the type of show.

    The last show I was in was a touring theatre show which had a producer who would contact theatres and put together a deal. Often that was a 70/30 split on ticket sales (70 to the show) and further costs would be negotiated between them such as fees for tech staff and marketing. The other way was for our producer to agree a hire fee with the venue which included all associated costs on the basis of picking up 100% of the ticket sales. Sometimes the numbers varied depending on the venue. This was for UK shows.

    We used to tour in Europe a couple of times a year in which case a total fee was negotiated for the tour between our producer and an agent who would put together deals with the venues and arrange accomodation.

    In other shows I've been in which didn't have a producer, agents would negotiate a deal with the venue and basically pay you a flat rate per show. When I worked as a solo performer I had a couple of agents who would negotiated a fee with the venue and I would pay a percentage of the agreed fee by way of commission.

    I've learned over the years that if you want to make money from music, the most reliable way is to NOT be a musician!
     
  4. radiocaster

    radiocaster Poster Extraordinaire

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    If you're only playing huge outdoor concerts you're already Metallica or something.

    Most bands that sometimes play outdoors will also play bigger clubs and whatnot.
     
  5. Old Deaf Roadie

    Old Deaf Roadie Friend of Leo's Silver Supporter

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    Call your local concert promoter & ask them. It's what they do.
     
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  6. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    Local entertainment Production companies, or Agencies, they are there, waiting for you to call. You may have to call a few in your region to find the one that best fits what you are seeking. They will offer you money and you will never know what they are getting. Don't ask. thats NOT your business. Your business is accepting or turning down what they offer you. You get paid by them, not the venue. Over recent years I have worked Fairs, Nascar events, local concerts etc thru agencies. If there are regional or national acts playing the bill, be prepared to be the lowest form of life on the planet ! :)

    That being said, I have worked thru agencies before and the take was +/- 15%. I have also worked shows thru agencies where our bands were not even remotely a match for the show or gig ! Thats a long night ! Think Blues Brothers, that was based on the real deal !

    good luck
     
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  7. schmee

    schmee Doctor of Teleocity

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    Some lower level bands do the work themselves, know people, call a lot. It's a full time job. But once you get in somewhere, it's easier next year. It's a real PITA for sure.
    I even know some who "go on tour" , but really, they are being paid a pittance to play along their route .... for whatever someone will pay, even places that dont have music usually!
     
  8. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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    Booking agent if you want to play arenas. But you kind of need to be on the radar already for an agency to take any notice of you.
     
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  9. mfguitar

    mfguitar Tele-Afflicted Silver Supporter

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    Competition is keen, to get past local establishments you will need a decent press kit. There are local, regional, and national agencies. Most casinos, festivals, and major venues will use an agency.
     
  10. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    Thanks everyone. I'm not looking to do this myself. I'm 45 now...but having been a guy who always wanted to be in a touring band, but never was...I find myself a little embarrassed by how little I really know about how the business side works. You always hear actors talking about agents, musicians too, but somewhat less it seems like. It's too bad I never tried hard enough to get into something to have that experience and learn something. Its obvious now I hadn't the faintest idea how to make that happen. I just wanted to be the guitar player in a band and take the ride. It aint like in the movies.
     
  11. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    I waited to be invited to join bands too. Bet you can guess how well that worked out for me. I thought if I played well enough, I wouldn't have trouble landing in bands. But like most things it seems you've got to sell yourself a little...or a lotta. Maybe all the bands you knew were peopled with friends, and to muscle in on one of the guitar players would've meant screwing them over. It seemed like every band already had guitar players, and as we all know no shortage of more waiting in the wings. Christ...how did I get here? WTF. Full of regret and disappointment. But I digress...
     
  12. haggardfan1

    haggardfan1 Friend of Leo's

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    Jakedog, please call TDPRI.
    Paging Jakedog.
     
  13. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    Sorry dudes. Went all sad sack. :(Hopefully if we make it through the pandemic I can find a coverband to join... Or what I suspect I might need but am kind of afraid of I guess...start my own band of some kind. If I could just find myself regularly on a stage somehow, I would probably be happy enough. :)
     
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  14. T Prior

    T Prior Poster Extraordinaire

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    Don't overthink it. Maybe you are trying too hard.

    Its not about how well we play but rather how well we play with others, This is a very common misconception.

    Auditioning or being invited to a band rehearsal , its already assumed or a "given" that we can play, or why would we go ? Why would we be invited ? Playing is expected. The social/ musical interaction is equal to playing ability, sometimes even greater. We don't need to be best friends, we don't even need to know each other, but we do need to FIT in the band formula.

    Certain scenarios would rather have an average player who everyone enjoys being around rather than a GREAT player that nobody wants to talk to let alone play music with.

    Heck you may find you are nowhere near the player that they are and yet you don't want anything to do with them. They may come across as ROCK STARS. Let them be Rock Stars without you !

    Never commit immediately , make it a two way street " I like what you guys are doing, but give me a day or so to think about it, I want to make sure I can honor the commitment" Then when you leave, drive home as fast as you can and never look back !:)
     
    Last edited: Sep 26, 2020
  15. rand z

    rand z Friend of Leo's

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    I travel to different parts of the country ever 6 months, or so, and try to book gigs in advance.

    Its always tough.

    Here's what I do:



    1 - Website with bio, music, pics and shows. (Present an past)

    2 - Have a lot of experience and a good musical resume.

    3 - Charge a reasonable $$$ on an intro scale.

    4 - Be extremely flexible about everything.

    5 - Dont expect too much.

    GOOD LUCK!!!
     
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  16. cravenmonket

    cravenmonket Tele-Holic

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    It's easy to fall into the "I'm too old" trap. It's easy to convince yourself that you've missed your opportunity. But all that does is guarantee you miss future opportunities.

    45 is not too old for anything (except grade school and the military). You have what a lot of younger guitarists don't have: experience, maturity, plenty of self-awareness, humility. Those are valuable attributes - I would prefer to be in a band with someone who has those characteristics than some 19 year old kid who thinks he's the business, even if he is a decent guitarist.

    Do you write? Can you sing? If playing live is a dream you have, put yourself out there as a solo musician and see what happens - even if you don't sing, plenty of venues are looking for instrumental live performers.

    I get where you are coming from - I sometimes get down about not grabbing the opportunities that came my way when I was younger. For me, I was offered shows and gigs based on my recorded output, but chronic insecurity kept me from playing live regularly. I did play shows, but as a solo singer-songwriter, I found the nerves almost too excruciating, so I declined most of the offers I received.

    Regret and disappointment are worthless emotions unless you decide to use them to change your present. Don't live in the past - it doesn't exist! Don't live in the future, either; some fantasy time ahead when you'll be doing what you really want to do. That's not real either. It won't happen. The only time is right now. What are you doing right now to find happiness?
     
  17. shtuck

    shtuck TDPRI Member

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    Thank you for taking the time to send such a thoughtful reply. "Right now". That hits pretty hard. I think I do fall prey to living in the past or the future.

    I'm sorry to anyone annoyed that the thread is straying off topic. But one could argue that my lack of knowledge about touring and booking was feeding my depression about not playing.
     
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  18. scottser

    scottser Friend of Leo's

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    Here, all the venues are tied to one promoter or another, there are very few independents. Those venues that are independent will ask for their fee upfront in case you dont fill the venue. Promoters will get you playing all across their network for a percentage of the gate if you're the headliner. Its still common for a band to buy their way onto the support slot. I guess if you wanted to book a tour yourself it would take a ridiculous amount of work which would suck what little enjoyment you'd get from playing right out.
     
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  19. Richie Cunningham

    Richie Cunningham Tele-Afflicted

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    I guess I always thought it happened automatically somehow. I thought it must be easy, since bands were announcing tours all the time, whether I cared or not.
     
  20. mikestearns

    mikestearns Tele-Holic Silver Supporter

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    In bands I was in, you start with hitting an out of town show or two on a weekend, usually trading shows with a band you know. They get you a show where they live with them, you help them out with one where you live. You can string together a Friday and Saturday with that. Soon enough if you do that enough times, you can go do a Fri-Mon or something similar. Start doing it where you hit one or two places you've already been to start building a following, tack on one place new. Eventually you've got a week together. Then two weeks. Etc. These are the tours that are in DIY spaces, or smaller rock clubs and bars. There's not a lot of money here or anything like that, you're building. We were happy if we could get enough money to not have to pay for gas/plane tickets/merch/recording out of pocket. You're staying with people you meet most likely, crashing on their floor in a sleeping bag, there's not money for hotel rooms. To get bigger shows/bigger tours, that's where often you need a booking agent. They have the relationships to make those things happen. That comes later, once you're at a point where you've got enough clout that they can make some money with you.
     
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