4

Ask A Failed Musician: So, You Think You're Ready to Tour?

^
Keep Dallas Observer Free
I Support
  • Local
  • Community
  • Journalism
  • logo

Support the independent voice of Dallas and help keep the future of Dallas Observer free.


Welcome to Ask a Failed Musician, in which I will help struggling musicians make sense of their careers and even offer some advice. Whether or not it will work, who knows? It obviously didn't work for me. But then again, I was on Kimmel once, so there's that.


Dear Failed,
My band just got back from month-long tour of the U.S. and it was largely unsuccessful. By unsuccessful, I mean nobody came to the shows and we lost money. We expected a better turnout because of songs that were placed in prominent scenes on Grey's Anatomy and Vampire Diaries. But despite them being shared over a million times on the web, the tour pretty much bombed. What went wrong?

Demoralized in Dallas

You know, Demoralized, you're not alone. Too many new bands think they're ready to go on tour before they actually are. In fact, I'd be willing to guess that of all the live performances that happened in the U.S. last weekend, most of them were poorly attended.

See also:
- Ask a Failed Musician: Success is influence
- Ask a Failed Musician: Hey new bands, stop putting out albums

I can see why a band would talk itself into going on a tour. The thought of fun on the road, big crowds, lots of money and all the glamour of a successful  tour is exciting. But, if you're lucky enough to get to the point at which that stuff is actually happening, you'll probably be too jaded to care. Either that or you're Foster the People.

Here's how to know if your band is ready to go on tour: How many people are coming to shows in your hometown? If you answered "not many," then you should work on building up a local following before you ever cross your county line. Maybe you need to play less often and make your shows more of an event. Maybe your band needs to rehearse more and improve the show.

Once your local show improves, do the same in a neighboring city. Work out a show trade with a band that's doing well there. When you gain a following there, do the same in the next city, and so on, until you have a solid regional following, playing once every two months in each city.

Unless you have the financial backing of a major label and can buy onto major tours, the best way to tour is, basically, by not touring. Start small and build your way to the next city. How do I know this works? Because I've played to less than eight people in almost every major city in the U.S.

Write to Ask a Failed Musician here. Ask anything you like. I will do my best to help you not fail also.

Keep the Dallas Observer Free... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we would like to keep it that way. Offering our readers free access to incisive coverage of local news, food and culture. Producing stories on everything from political scandals to the hottest new bands, with gutsy reporting, stylish writing, and staffers who've won everything from the Society of Professional Journalists' Sigma Delta Chi feature-writing award to the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism. But with local journalism's existence under siege and advertising revenue setbacks having a larger impact, it is important now more than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" membership program, allowing us to keep covering Dallas with no paywalls.

We use cookies to collect and analyze information on site performance and usage, and to enhance and customize content and advertisements. By clicking 'X' or continuing to use the site, you agree to allow cookies to be placed. To find out more, visit our cookies policy and our privacy policy.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.

 

Join the Observer community and help support independent local journalism in Dallas.