We still have no idea what we are doing, but it keeps getting better
October 18, 2014 6:10 AM   Subscribe

How to plan your own tour: using the Internet and your fans.
People started to demand, in tweets and comments, that we play in their city. And the most important thing we’ve ever done is reply to them with this: “sure. where?” That’s the important question. At first we would track down and e-mail these fans who were making the demands, asking for advice on venues. Once we had a mailing list, we used it to send targeted “please help us” emails... And then we created our holy grail: THE MAGICAL FORM OF TOUR PLANNING.
Angela Webber, of geek-folk sister duo The Doubleclicks (previously), provides a rundown of how the band plans its tours.
posted by Shmuel510 (8 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite
I'm going to use that "Planning! It looks so clean when it’s in the future." line in all the meetings from now on.
posted by robocop is bleeding at 7:02 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

That was fascinating, and I now have even more respect for the indie bands I see at the local joints.
posted by COD at 7:03 AM on October 18, 2014 [3 favorites]

Oh god, if you are planning an "unconventional" tour where you stop at houses and community spaces, etc, don't think that you can basically be all "we would like to play your space, would you set up a show for us" and try to make the house/space be your tour organizers. There is a particular community space with which I am familiar where people - many of them very nice! - seem to do this all the time. They really expect that the space has the time/personnel to invest in organizing and promoting shows at random purely for the love of it.

If you have fans in a city who want to organize the show, that's great. If the people at the house/space want to organize and promote your show, that's great too. But remember that a lot of houses and spaces that routinely host indie shows host a lot of shows and not everyone who lives in those houses or volunteers at those spaces wants or has the time to be your local tour manager. These places are already being super nice by letting you play there for free/nearly free - find a way to do the rest of the work yourself.
posted by Frowner at 7:28 AM on October 18, 2014

Remember Book Your Own Fucking Life? Very similar advice. I would literally just call every punk house in a city til someone answered and allowed us to play a show there. Of course we never made even gas money. But that was before the internet, where based on a lack of response a band can be assured nobody will come see you play rather than hoping someone would.

Anyway! This is good advice. First: get fans. Then: DIY force them to put their money where their likes are. Do it right away, do not wait for a manager or smthing to come along and "help". With luck (and a new van NOT AN OLD VAN) you can break even.

Step 1, though, is the hard part. If 99% of bands waited til they had national or even regional interest they would never tour at all. And so, most don't.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 7:44 AM on October 18, 2014 [2 favorites]

It's effective for them, I think, because they're folk artists, and folk fans are generally weird enough for this to work. ( i.e.: weird-good, not weird-weird )
posted by mikelieman at 7:56 AM on October 18, 2014 [1 favorite]

Paul F. Thompkins was doing his comedy tour this way. I don't know if he still is but I believe it was based on gigs were he pit a lot of effort into booking and showing up and not having many people. If you were fans of his and wanted to see him you made a Facebook group of 150 (I think) people that want to see PFT in your town. People/friends/fans were told to join only if you could really guarantee that you would come. And then only after that showing of actual interest would he book a place.

It is one step less than getting your fans to find a place for you to play but I thought it was a very effective model and would be interesting to see musicians do it.
posted by kanata at 8:59 AM on October 18, 2014

I haven't seen it laid out like this before, but this sounds like a very organized version what a lot of mid-tier bands I listen to seem to do. There was (and may still be) a service that handled the "demand this band come to your town" end of things for a while, but it wasn't as useful as a request for all the venue information so the band can book themselves.
posted by immlass at 9:59 AM on October 18, 2014

Followup post: One weird trick for a successful Kickstarter project.
posted by Shmuel510 at 6:40 AM on October 20, 2014 [1 favorite]

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