Advice Clinic

How to survive on tour

11th January 2018

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Life on the road ain’t like in the movies. It’s not all about waking up on a gleaming tourbus and toasting the sunrise over the Mojave Desert with a bottle of Jack. The truth is, the road is hard work, and if you treat your first tour like a permanent freshers’ week, your gigs will bomb, you liver will explode and you’ll never leave your hometown again. Here are five rules to live by.

Don’t overreach yourself

As much as we applaud the ambition of your 120-date tour of Europe and Asia, newbies are advised to start a little smaller. Find your hometown on a map, draw a generous circle around it and hit all the decent live venues within striking distance. You’ll still get the buzz of life as a road-dog, but if things go horribly wrong, you can slink home and lick your wounds – rather than getting banged up in a Russian gulag.

Get organised

Assuming that you haven’t got a booking agent holding your hand, it falls to the band to sort the tour itinerary. Draw up an hour-by-hour breakdown of your activities each day, detailing where everyone needs to be and when. This document should also include postcodes and contacts for all the venues in the diary, as well as any press commitments and accommodation. Doing this might make you feel more like Monica from Friends than Lemmy from Motӧrhead – but you’ll thank us later.

Stick to the budget

It’s heartbreaking to watch a wide-eyed new band roll out with high hopes – only to limp home two months later with a terminal hole in their finances. Avoid ending up in the red by drawing up a realistic projection of how much you’re likely to earn from each gig. Then – factoring in van breakdown, the occasional no-show crowd and double-crossing promoter – calculate how much you can spend on food, drink and hotels (you should be so lucky).

Get insurance

It’s a sad indictment of modern society that the live music circuit is a playground for gold-toothed villains, who will step from the shadows, snatch your ’67 Les Paul, flog it on the dark web and leave your tour in tatters. You can’t fix broken Britain – but you can protect yourself with an instrument insurance policy for as little as £3/month.

Stay healthy

You will drink. You will stay up late. You will fall well short of your five-a-day. But without wishing to sound like your mum, keep it in moderation. Mӧtley Crüe already did the whole debauched-tour thing to death back in 1987, and these days, you become legendary by showing up like clockwork and playing like demons. Save your drinking until after the gig, and don’t hit it so hard that you get blacklisted from venues, or throw up on the shoes of the A&R who’s come from London to watch you.

 

 

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Author

Henry Yates is a freelance journalist who has written for music magazines including Classic Rock, Total Guitar, Guitarist, NME and Metal Hammer, and brands including V Festival, Download, Epiphone, Yamaha, Roland and Universal. His proudest career moment was meeting Jimmy Page - and his toughest assignment was interviewing Pharrell Williams."