I recently caught up with another music journalist. One topic we both came back to was when is it time for an artist to leave the nest. We mean tour. In 2018 I saw a number of bands evolve to playing venues, festivals, and sometimes any gig they could get. After a while, it looked like they were playing the same venues constantly. When Summer turned to Fall this routine wore on me. It was the same set. There was nothing new. It also felt like a saturation level had been reached. There are only so many times you can ask friends and family to come out before you need new blood. If you’re not getting that new blood, it may be time to take a risk.
Touring is an intimidating part of the music industry. It means leaving your comfort zone and embarking on a new adventure in areas you’re not known. Touring is also expensive and can take a long time to make a profit if any. It exposes you to audiences that have never heard your music and can work to build your fanbase. That does not mean every gig is a winner. It also means that if you try a new market, you may need to return many times until you ‘re known. There are numerous books & apps on touring that go through the logistics from promotion and booking to hotels and insurance. The one question they can’t answer for you is when. When should you hit the road?
When is a personal question. It involves everything from finances to how confident you are as a musician. The money is the easy part. Expect not to make any but gain new experiences and new fans. Touring can be in-state and regional. It does not mean touring out of state immediately. What does your e-mail list & FB tell you about your fans’ locations? If one city beyond your own keeps coming up, it’s time to play there.
Touring is the grand adventure. Don’t stay locked in a cycle of the same fans and venues locally when you can spread your wings to another place.