No matter how you slice it booking a tour, is a lot of hard work. It requires time and dedication. However, there are certainly things you can do to make it a little easier on yourself. Here are 6 tools I use on every tour I book:
Adding a spreadsheet to my workflow has been one of the most helpful things I have ever done for increasing efficiency on booking a tour. Many computers have software built in, if yours doesn’t you can always grab “Open Office” for free. I personally use “Numbers” from the Apple iWork suite.
I have 10 columns in mine: Date, Weekday, City, Venue, Promoter, Style (club, coffee shop, church, theatre, etc.), Pay, Confirmed (yes or no), Notes, Media Contacted
It is such a huge help to have that all sitting on one sheet.
2. Google maps
This may sound obvious but Google Maps takes an ENORMOUS amount of hassle our of routing a tour. Put in your target markets, check the distances between them if it’s over 6 or so hours, zoom in look for markets in between your targets, re-arrange until you find a solid route, use that as your template. https://maps.google.com/
3. Indie On The Move
This has probably become my most indispensable tool for booking a tour (US only). It’s super simple to search any decently sized city in the US; when you do, you’ll see a bunch of venues, click into them, see their calendar, contact info and even ratings from other bands. You can even e-mail the talent buyer right from inside their site. I can’t recommend this site enough; check it out! http://www.indieonthemove.com/
4. The Indie Venue Bible
This has long been a favourite of mine and have built several circuits from it. It requires a little more effort than Indie on the move, but includes Canada, it also costs you a few dollars. However you get a GREAT pdf directory organized by state (or province) of a ton of venues, with a small guide to what genres they book. Click on the venue and you are taken either to their web page or contact info. Make the phone calls, and make it happen. http://www.indievenuebible.com/
Once you have interested contacts, you don’t want to lose them. A database lets you keep all your contacts well organized for future contact. Some people use the spreadsheet for this, but I find a database to be much more robust. I personally use Bento, everything goes in there, from show evaluations, to promoters, to media contacts, I even print my contracts from Bento. I think it’s well worth adding to your arsenal.
Ultimately it all comes down to this, if you want to book a tour, get ready for more phone calls and emails than you have made before, don’t give up. Hustle is what separates the pros from the garage bands. If you want this, work harder than everyone else.
What about you? What tools do you use when booking a tour? Let me know in the comments, I always love checking out a new resource!