Thanks to the internet, many artists are now able to record, promote, and distribute their music independently. Getting the music out to fans has never been easier, but getting the band to the fans can still be as difficult as ever. Many independent musicians work other jobs to support their passion, but that can make it difficult to go out on tour for weeks on end. Thankfully, there are some viable options for up-and-coming bands to get a chance to tour in their local area while still maintaining their day jobs and lives.
The key to touring locally is to build local sustainable tour markets that you can use to expand upon later in your career. Many major cities are surrounded by smaller towns and cities that would probably love to have good live music come their way. A good starting point would be any city or town within a 2 to 3 hour drive of your hometown. The first step is to identify which venues you can play. Although you can email every bar in town and hope for the best, you’d be better off doing some proper research. You should research similar local artists and see where they like to play. Then take a chance and send them an email; who knows, maybe they’ll love your stuff.
Even though you may not have many people coming out to your show, you should still try your best to promote it; if all goes well, you’ll be coming back to play to hopefully a bigger crowd. The main idea behind local touring is to try and make a few new fans at each show you play. Then next time you play, those fans will come back and bring more friends.
Another good idea is to trade shows with other bands. You can research bands that are similar to yourself in other tour markets, and ask if you can play a show with them in their town. Then when they get a chance to go on tour, you can play a show with them in your hometown.
And if money is really tight and you don’t want to spend a lot on cheap motels, couchsurfing.com can be a great way to meet local people and stay at their place for free.
It’s usually a good idea to go on local tours every six weeks. That way you have enough time to play all the local markets and take some time to recover at home. Then get right back to it! You want to build a loyal fanbase locally so that when the time comes, you can start expanding to larger markets and hopefully draw in some of your local fans.
By: Ryan J. Colburn