4 Ways Small Bands Can Improve DIY Touring

Episode 023 of The Indie Musician Secrets Podcast

Indie Musician Secrets
10 min readJul 27, 2022



INTRO: There are no secrets to success, just things you haven’t learned yet. And once you learn them, it’s up to you to apply them. I’m Jamaal, aka Boss Eagle, Billboard-charting hip hop artist and music business coach. Join me as we talk digital marketing, social media, technology and more, and share interviews with industry professionals to help you unlock the “secrets” and take control of your music career. Because we ARE the new music business, and this is the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast.

What’s up, what’s up, what’s up? And welcome to the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast. My name is Jamaal, aka Boss Eagle, Billboard- charting hip hop artist and music business coach at Business Minded Musicians. I want to welcome you to today’s episode where we’re going to be talking about: 4 Ways Small Bands Can Improve DIY Touring. But before we jump into that, I want to say thank you for listening to the podcast wherever you are streaming. You can find us on all of your favorite streaming platforms. Don’t forget to download, rate & review — that would greatly help. If you like an episode, please leave a review. Make sure that you share the podcast as well. That will help us continue to push the podcast forward.

So without further ado, let’s jump into today’s topic: 4 Ways Small Bands Can Improve DIY Touring.

If touring is something that has been interesting to you in the past, if it’s something you’ve wanted to do, I’m here to tell you that it is possible. Maybe [it’s seemed] a little bit scary or you thought: oh, that’s for bigger artists on record labels. Playing live is a great way to connect with fans & see new places. [And] touring can be possible for smaller acts as well, such as smaller bands or solo artists. There are a lot of people doing some really cool things these days. But with that, tour planning should be done smartly. It should be done in a way that makes sense for you and your band. We’re going to talk about four different ways that you can improve your touring, if you’re a smaller band or a smaller act. We’re using an article on the ReverbNation website to talk about these four items. So thank you to ReverbNation for this awesome article, and in particular, Patrick Maguire, who wrote this article. I will leave a link to the full article in the show notes and the description as well. So let’s dive right in!

Full blog post: https://blog.reverbnation.com/2022/04/19/improve-diy-touring-small-bands/

One way to improve DIY touring for small bands is to start with short regional tours and expand from there. [It] probably goes without saying. This will be easier on your resources. And if you think about it, long DIY tours are hard to promote, and as the article explains, even harder to execute. If you have limited resources and your band is already a little bit stretched, it might be hard to spend your energy and efforts around so many states and cities. Starting with a short, regional tour, and slowly expanding, is probably the best way to go for smaller bands.

Don’t get caught up in the whole idea of the adventure of country-wide tours. That definitely sounds great. And I want you to get there one day. But I also want you to get there when it’s appropriate and when it’s time to get there. There’s nothing wrong with taking the road trip and all that stuff. But let’s do this in a smart and efficient way. We want to make sure that there’s demand for your music and there are some ways you can do that, which I’ll probably touch on a little bit later. But start closer.

And as the article says: Don’t book shows that are in faraway places that will be difficult to return to. Because remember, if you’re if you’re driving yourself [and] if you’re financing this thing yourself, you have to think about all of those costs. As of the making of this podcast episode, we’re in July of 2022. Gas prices are through the roof! So it’s something you want to think about from the expense standpoint. Make sure that you’re starting out close — regionally, and then expand from there. Cool?!

The second of the four ways that small bands can improve DIY touring is to create a realistic plan and budget for the tour. The article expresses the importance of budgeting and planning accordingly. I know that sounds super boring. You just want to hit the stage, you want to see those new cities! But if you run into any snags, you want to make sure that you’(ve) budget(ed) and plan(ned) for those things before you get out on the road. And that’s everything from lodging to how much gas money it will take for you to get from point A to point B. Remember, gas is expensive and you probably want to build in some contingencies there as well.

Think about where you’re going even as you’re planning. Could you plan strategically where there’s family? Friends? If you’re comfortable enough, where some of your super fans live. Could you stay with them? Can you sleep on couches or a room above a garage? The article says don’t operate basically off of what you hope will happen, but rather plan around likely show outcomes. I think sometimes we might tend to overestimate how much merch we might sell or how many tickets we might sell or how many people might give donations or buy a VIP package. I would encourage you [to] just plan more conservatively. And then if you do exceed those goals, or those outcomes, that’s even better.

One little bonus hack that I want to throw in on this one: I don’t know how many of you out there have done this, or are familiar or comfortable with this, [but] you can consider sponsorships. Sponsorships don’t always have to necessarily be someone putting money in your pocket. Maybe you have a restaurant sponsor that will provide your meal, and you do a shout out of their business from the stage. Think about those types of in-kind sponsorships that may be beneficial to you while you’re out on the road. Just something to consider.

Number three of the four ways that small bands can improve DIY touring: focus more on promoting important shows and less on playing often. I know you’re thinking: but, wouldn’t we want to pack in a show every night? And yes, that does seem like it would make a lot of sense. However, [while] more shows could mean more chance to earn money, the article states that the truth is this strategy can result in constantly long drives, morale-sucking shows (eg., shows where you’re performing maybe for one or two people), and money problems for you and your band. So when you think about it, trying to build in shows just for the sake of may not be the way to go.

What you might want to do is focus more on the important shows that you know may have a better turnout, maybe are already a guarantee, that type of thing. A couple of things also that the article mentions is that you have to consider if you and your band members have day jobs. You want to be thinking about how much time you’re going to be away from work, and is that taking money out of your pocket as well. And if you’re not replenishing that while you’re on tour, that could cause problems. Booking shows just to get from A to B almost always results in sparse crowds. So they say to consider playing less often, and doing more to promote important shows. You can do that to local radio, press, interviews, etc. You can always look to build some of those other things around your shows. Are there opportunities to be involved on a campus radio station or local community radio station or local press? Those types of things [can] draw more attention to what you’re doing.

Lastly, number four of the four ways small bands can improve DIY touring, is they mentioned do not tour without good music and a good reason. One of the things the article states is that: touring is simply too much work to do without a good reason. Your music should be developed and your performance experience should be built locally. You want to make sure that your music is primed, but also that your ability to perform that music is at a level that’s going to be receptive to the audience. A national tour isn’t going to do you any favors if you’re going around, hitting up every city every night, but your music just isn’t there, and your stage performance isn’t there either. You might be doing a disservice to yourself.

The article states that even if your music is great, it may not be the right time to hit the road. But promoting new music or road-testing unreleased songs are a few reasons why bands might choose to tour. So if you have some new music coming out, if you’re working on an EP or an album or something like that, touring could be a good opportunity — a good reason to share that music. But they also say that if it’s been years since your last release, you might be better off kind of staying in the studio creating more music. And I would say, again, performing locally so that it’s easier for you to just do the show and then go home. Instead of having to worry about where you’re going to sleep that night, or if you’ve got to drive to another city and if you have gas in the van.

BONUS: One bonus hack that I want to throw in for this one is to run ads in areas of interest and start getting feedback. This ties back into what I was talking about earlier in that first one [about] starting with short, regional tours and expanding from there. You can, actually very cheaply, run ads to your music in the places that you want to go to. Start to see how people are responding to your music through those paid ads. I know sometimes artists get scared by paid ads and they don’t trust Facebook and Instagram. But I’m here to tell you that’s just a bunch of nonsense, because those people probably just didn’t know what they were doing. As you guys know, one of my superpowers is digital marketing.

Start by taking a look inside your dashboard for your digital distributor or for Spotify and see where your top cities are. Put a little more emphasis into some of those cities that are of interest to you and see how much feedback you get when people start making comments on those posts. Start engaging with people, talking with them. Ask them, “Where would be the great places to visit? Where would be the great places to play?” Start getting those people on your email list. That way, you can start to look at maybe going out to some of those places and building little mini tours in certain regions. But you’ve already got a little bit of a head start if that makes sense.

If you are interested, or if you want to know more about how to grow a fan base digitally, I have a course called Fanbase Growth Accelerator. You can find that by going to: businessmindedmusicians.com and clicking on Online Courses. I’ll leave a link in the description as well. But that’s one way that you can start to drum up some of that attention and feedback before you even hit the road.

>>>Grow Your Fanbase Today, No Marketing Experience Needed!


Your action item for today is two parts: First, thing I want you to do is to make sure that your music is ready for the road (if that’s something that you’re interested in doing). If you’re ready to go out on tour, if you think you want to start doing one of these smaller regional tours, make sure your music is ready first.

Then, plan your tour the right way. There are so many resources out there. And I just want to encourage you to invest in yourself by investing in one of those [resources] so that you can take some of that pressure and legwork off [of yourself]. One that I would recommend is the Indie Venue Bible. It’s a great resource — I have a copy myself! It has over 30,000 venues and festivals in the US and Canada. Everything from traditional venues to music festivals to colleges, bars, restaurants, house concerts, churches, bookstores, anything you can think of, and it’s less than 50 bucks! Less than 50 bucks for a great company to curate all of this and put it in one PDF with clickable links so you can click on the links and go find more information. I’ll leave a link in the description to this as well, but you can go to: venues.bizmindedmusic.com and it will take you to where you can grab a copy of the Indie Venue Bible. [With] over 30,000 venues and festivals in the US and Canada, you can build those regional tours a little bit easier, a little bit faster, a little bit more efficiently, and really be able to focus on going out and putting on awesome shows!

>>>Get Info for 30,000+ Venues & Festivals in the U.S. and Canada!

If you have any questions or topics that you’d like covered on the podcast, feel free to email me at: Questions{at}IndieMusicianSecrets.com. Don’t forget to share the podcast with anyone you think this would be helpful for — I would greatly appreciate that. And again, I want to say thank you to Patrick McGuire and ReverbNation for this great article. I’ll also leave the link to the full article in the description. With that, go do your action item. Go start rocking those stages. God bless, and I’ll see you when I see you. Peace!

OUTRO: Thank you for listening. Don’t forget to follow the Indie Musician Secrets Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen. And make sure to leave us a rating and review. Also share this episode with other indie musicians who you think it would be beneficial for. And for more helpful resources to help you grow your music business, visit us at: businessmindedmusicians.com. I hope this episode has served you we’ll talk to you on the next episode.

Click the video to listen to Episode 023 on YouTube

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Indie Musician Secrets

Jamaal “Boss Eagle” Curry is a Hip-Hop recording artist, music business coach, digital marketer and entrepreneur. Visit www.jamaalcurry.com for more.