For a musician, traveling to a wide variety of cities and being able to entertain all sorts of people from different backgrounds can be a very fulfilling endeavor -- but that doesn't mean touring is all fun and games. For many musicians, it's the most stressful part of their job. And while touring is definitely exciting, it's also a lot of work. Also, speaking from personal experience, it's rare that you get to venture out very far from the venue, hotel or local truck stop. In fact, most musicians find that they hardly ever have the time or the energy to see the sites like normal tourists can while on the road. But depending on how you manage your time, your creative process and the way you go about doing things, you might actually get to visit and enjoy many of the places you visit along the way. With that in mind, here are ten things every musician should know about touring.
Carrying around your entire wardrobe is obviously a bad idea. Of course, there are those on-stage clothes that you need. Make sure to bring those with you. Otherwise, just pack the bare essentials such as thing that you really need and won't take up too much space. Do not weigh yourself down by lugging a huge bag of clothes with you. And don't forget your toothbrush or deodorant -- your band mates will thank you!
Let's face it, most of the time you will be living on free bar food, pizzas, and burgers. However, staying healthy and well-fed while on the road is one of the most crucial parts of keeping your energy up. Try your best to order healthier meals; eat fruits and drink lots of water. Your physical health will be taking a beating while on the road, do your best to help it out.
Carry Backup Equipment
There is no question about it, at some point, some of your equipment is going to fail. Whether it's your mic cables, essential pedals, strings batteries, something is going to fail. Make sure you carry a backup so that the show can go on. The last thing you want is a broken string with no replacements in the middle of a gig!
Always Have A Check-List
You need to have a check-list. Something that ensures you have the directions to the next gig, itinerary, contact information and most important -- an inventory checklist. You'll be surprised at how many cables, power cords or even guitars get left behind in previous venues. You can't assume that someone else will take care of it and there's nothing worse than getting 100 miles down the road to the next gig and realize you left your favorite guitar at the venue. If you're lucky enough to have a road manager they should have this under control.
Keep The Partying In Check
As much as you may be a rock star, touring takes a toll on you. If you want to be on-stage and still party just as hard when off it, you will soon realize that you are running yourself into the ground. Your shows will become less and less energetic and the crowds will pick up on that. Make sure you leave yourself plenty of time to rest!
Take Great Care Of Your Van/Bus
Your touring vehicle is very much your lifeline while on the road. You need to take great care of it. This doesn't just mean servicing and washing it (although these things are a must), it also means keeping the inside clean; respecting one another’s space while in the van and making sure that the everything is in good order and put away neatly. You will be surprised how much more relaxing a good clean van interior can be.
The Airport Is A Mess
If you're lucky enough to be flying to your next gig, be prepared for the airport because something will always go wrong. Either your flight will be delayed or you will forget your passport at the hotel. No matter what happens, you need to have a routine to deal with airport drama. Always have all pertinent papers on you and always show up early. This way, you're covered.
You Will Get Bored
No matter how much you love entertaining, it's still a lot of work. And the more you do it, the more repetitious it becomes. Once that happens, you'll likely start to get bored. Don't forget, the crowds in different cities are probably seeing you for the first time and that is exciting for them. Try and feed off of that energy when your spirit dips a little.
Budget For Everything
You need to budget for everything. From food, gas, hotels and any other activity that requires money. After adding it all up, include a 10% cautionary fund for when things go wrong. You will be surprised how quickly that number adds up to an unbelievable amount if you do not write it all down and plan for it.
Touring Is Addictive
It might be stressful and high strung at times, but once you are off the road, you get bored really fast. Touring is addictive and you start to miss that little bubble separated from the regular everyday life of most people. It's like a high that you must constantly chase and it's incredibly important to growing your fan base.
These are just a few of the important things every musician should know about touring. Being on the road can be the time of your life, but remember, while on the road you are on a mission -- to spread your music to as many people who will listen and create as many fans as possible. In turn, they will support you by going to your gigs, buy your merch and ultimately pay your bills so you can keep doing what you love!
Your Turn to Sound Off!
What are some other tips for life on tour?