First Time Tour Tips

Professional musicians share advice for new bands

Touring is a big part of every professional musician’s career, but planning a tour for the first time may seem overwhelming.

It’s important to know why you’re touring, Graham Moon of Hearing Trees says. Touring allows musicians to build a fanbase, fan by fan, and build relationships with other bands and industry people. This can only be done by going places. 

“I’m really into performance. That’s one of my favourite things to do,” solo artist Iskwé says, noting she’s found the best way to reach as many people as possible is to play in as many places as you can. 

When planning a tour, Iskwé says she starts by researching cities. She looks at places around her main bookings and works out a schedule within the surrounding area.

“Do your routing,” Iskwé says, “and make it work the best for you as possible.”

Moon says when his band is looking for venues, they find out where other bands are playing by word of mouth and through other bands’ tour itineraries. 

“There’s always a venue,” Moon says. “You just might have to look hard for one along your route that suits you.” 

Moon says he starts planning Hearing Trees’ next tour while on their current one. 

Iskwé says she waits until she gets home from a tour to plan the next one, but she gets busy preparing as soon as she’s back.

“It’s always a work in progress,” Iskwé says. 

She starts tour planning by organizing her finances. She looks at the income that comes from venues and festivals then sets it against her expenses for things like housing and transportation. 

She says if she needs additional funding, she applies for touring and travelling grants. 

“Reach out to your local, provincial and national granting bodies,” Iskwé says. 

She suggests looking into Canada Council for the Arts and Manitoba Film and Music, two of the organizations that offer grants to musicians who want to tour. 

When planning their first tour, Iskwé urges new bands to be gentle on themselves and be open to the learning curves and all the different things that will happen along the way. 

She says while on tour, you’ll learn what works and what doesn’t. It’s also important to not stress over the things that musicians cannot control, such as the weather.

“Nothing will actually prepare you for what you are going to experience,” Moon says. “You just have to trust the universe and take every opportunity you get.”

Moon says touring is the hardest thing in the world, but it helped Hearing Trees find their sound.

“It’s satisfying seeing yourself working towards a sound that is uniquely your own,” Moon says, “and it comes from playing all the shows.” 

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