Spring Tour 2015 (part 1) 

photo by Chuck Boyd

So we just finished our 2015 early spring tour. As a band, this was a milestone for us to have toured for 2 weeks straight, booking all out-of-town gigs, traveling in a van for over 2000 miles playing in venues ranging from festivals, hookah bars, outdoor cafes to blues centric juke joints. Also, as an independent (indie) band, we were able to book the venues, transportation and lodging on our own and complete the tour with 4 band members, a 15 pax van (minus two rows of seats), our instruments and backline. But to say that we were totally independent would not be correct. We would not have been able to do this tour and stay within our budget, if it was not for the help of many.

Booking the Venues - For the first time we used the services of Indie On The Move (IOTM) which is a free website that links touring bands and venues looking for acts. Through IOTM vast database, we were able to send out a mass amount of emails (over 300) to venues in the areas that we wanted to perform that met our criteria - mainly places that had live music and preferred genres of Blues, Americana and venues that accepted all genres. The responses we received came directly to us to negotiate the terms and to book the event. This exposed us to many places that we probably would not have found through other means of searching and allowed us to book venues for the tour. 70% of the venues booked came through this process and was critical to find venues to book during the week days, which are typically hardest to book.

Promotion - Because we had not previously performed in most of these markets, we needed a good promotion plan to get the word out about our events. Of course we posted everything on our website, sent out information to our email list and utilized our social media, but that only gets to a portion of people that know you. New markets require a more aggressive strategy.

First we had our favorite copy writer Darla Parris Smallwood draft a press release with inserts that we could edit to make the release location specific. This was the base document we used to send to the various press outlets for posting on their website, or use in their own marketing to support the show. Having a well written press release is critical to be taken seriously and unless you or someone in the band is exceptional at writing press releases, it is worth the expense to have a professional draft your copy and you be responsible for getting it out to the press. We highly recommend Darla she always produces great products.
Next, we asked all of the venues to send us local press points of contact for us to promote our event. Most venues were more than willing and provided names, websites, email address and sometimes phone numbers to local papers, entertainment calendars, bloggers and other media types for us to send our information. About 30 days before the start of the tour, we sent out our press release, all our links and a picture to all our contacts. Most of the internet calendars posted the event, we had a newspaper article written about us, landed a local TV interview and got a call in radio interview on a local blues radio program. This seemed to be pretty effected based from feedback we got from many of the patrons we met at our shows.

photo in poster by Sherry Boylan

Also about 30 days before we departed on our tour, we sent each venue 5 posters through Getbandposters.com. It only takes minutes to complete and have your posters on the way. You just upload a picture (make sure you have the recommended size and use a high resolution file), add your venue information and the posters will be printed and mailed to the venue for only $15. This was a great time and money saver when you include the cost of printing, travel between the print shop and post office and cost of shipping.

Lastly, we wanted to try to get our music on local radio stations to hopefully reach those music lovers looking for a new band to discover. Because we most closely identify with blues, we looked for blues centric radio programs in those areas that we would be performing to make a connection and get the word out about our event. Mary4music.com is the most OUTSTANDING blues resource which has dutifully served the blues community for a long time. There is a FREE listing of blues centric radio stations and programs, with links, broken down via states and cities. We looked at all the areas that we had events booked, went to Mary4Music’s website for the contact information of the radio station and sent each contact an email with our press release, links and ask them if they would like a CD or digital downloads of our music. Most wrote us back immediately with an address, which we quickly sent out our CDs for their consideration. This was a huge boost to our marketing reach and we met several people who said they found out about our show from the blues shows. BTW we also used Mary4Music to find blues clubs in the areas with gaps and booked 20% of our tour through the use of their database.

Next post, we’ll go over how we cut over $1500 out of our budget by some creative ways to find lodging…