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DIY Touring: Help, Horror Stories & (Hopefully) Happiness

Discussion in 'Music Forum' started by tommymcphail, Apr 5, 2016.

  1. tommymcphail

    Death To Apathy/Get Busy or Get Left Behind

    While I love the DIY thread, I was hoping we could start a tour-specific conversation to help one-another learn from our collective experiences. The road has taught me so much; from van blow-ups, meeting new people every night, where the best rest-stops are from Virginia to Oklahoma, how not to get stiffed by promoters, what to do when you are anyways, and so much more.

    Some questions to get you started (but totally not limited to!):
    • What sorts of troublesome encounters have you had on tour? How did you deal with it? What did you learn?
    • What are your go-to resources for discovering new venues/bands/promoters?
    • What are your big dos and don'ts?
    • Any tips/helpful hints for any newbies getting ready to book their first tour?
    • What worries you about tour? How have you dealt with it? Do you have a go-to support system?
    Here are a few kick-ass resources that have helped me (besides the old forums, of course!):
    • is a fantastic resource for DIY spaces worldwide, and has helped me in more than a few tight spots.
    • Alyssa Giannini put out a wonderful lil' zine called Bookin' It DIY: a responsible guide to booking shows/ diy guide zine/ community organizing. For just $3, she pins down a wealth of information that many have taken years to learn first-hand.
    • Finally, Jamie Coletta (Publicity and Promotions for SideOneDummy) wrote a brilliant series for Property of Zack called Get Schooled, where she digs into much-needed advice for bands trying to stand out/be smarter about their hustle.
    OP Note: I play guitar/manage The Weak Days and also co-run Running Around Records, a small label out of Richmond, VA. I've been self-booking DIY tours for nearly three years, have made some of my absolute best friends through that pesky "Hi! Could you help my band with a show in _____?" messages, and was an user for over 10 years. Let's be pals!
    JRGComedy likes this.
  2. cwhit

    still emperor emo Prestigious

    in for any DC/baltimore help

    also thanks for the love for my thread :heart:
    tommymcphail likes this.
  3. tommymcphail

    Death To Apathy/Get Busy or Get Left Behind

    you got it! it's awesome. :)

    i've had a lot of trouble booking DC/Baltimore over the last few months. granted, it's been the same down in Richmond, but any perspective on this? are venues shutting down, or is it just a tough area?
  4. cwhit

    still emperor emo Prestigious

    a little of both. DC is really good if you're an indie pop/indie rock band that has some hype. any DIY house show playing punk/emo band is out of luck. there's a decent hardcore community but it's generally a little older.

    baltimore has a few houses that do punk shows, they're just pretty gross and run by some weird people. bunch of bars do small shows but those again are more indie shows. charm city art space shutting down really took a big chunk out of baltimore.
    tommymcphail likes this.
  5. Kristen


    I've not toured yet but my band hopes to very soon. I'm interested in everyone's personal encounters with touring. Honestly it seems pretty overwhelming to think about booking, not having gear stolen, gas money, bringing extra gear in case things break, etc.
  6. tommymcphail

    Death To Apathy/Get Busy or Get Left Behind

    Charm City was the coolest place. i was so bummed to hear when that happened, but the rest of this makes a lot of sense. Richmond has been on a similar path as DC as of late. a little hype buys you a lot more reach, and the house show market is more consistently inconsistent than ever. :/
  7. nfdv2

    Trusted Prestigious

    been thinking about booking shows here because there are some bands that no one else wants to book that i rly want to see but finding a space in LA is hard as hell

    good thread
  8. cwhit

    still emperor emo Prestigious

    Pretty much my issue, if I had a space consistently there'd be some killer shows here
  9. JRGComedy

    Trusted Supporter

    I put together the tour for my two-man comedy show last summer. It was a buttload of work and we didn't turn a profit, but the experience was well worth it.

    1. Our very first show outside of Montana, was in Richland, WA... or rather, it almost was. We were on the radio, and in the paper, but exactly 0 people showed up. We learned two things from that: try not to perform on a weeknight at a venue that normally only has entertainment on the weekends and: don't take it personally. We bought some beer and watched Zootopia in a tent.

    2. That said, stay with people you know if you can! A couch is infinitely more comfortable than a floor.

    3. Comedy might be a little different than music, but before we went to each town, we reached out to some of the local comedians and saw other shows and made contacts. The internet can be awesome, so use it to digitally meet people you can hang out with or that might be good contacts in whatever city you end up in; touring can be lonely.

    4. Above all, have fun! Even if 0 people show up to your show, you can mope and cry about it, or you can use the opportunity to watch a dope Disney movie. That, and make a press kit. Photos, videos, music, bios, etc.

    Quote me if you have any more questions! :-)