The Ultimate Guide to Booking Profitable Tours:

7 Smart Touring Ideas for the Business Minded Musician

Indie Musician Secrets
8 min readAug 22, 2023
Photo by Ronê Ferreira

What’s up, indie musicians?! Thank you for stopping by and welcome to Business Minded Musicians. I’m Jamaal, aka Boss Eagle, a tech-savvy, Billboard-charting Hip-Hop artist, music business coach, podcast host, digital marketer and entrepreneur. I’m passionate about helping indie musicians take control of their music career

In this post we’re going to be discussing how to tour profitably. If you’re a business-savvy independent musician with that serious itch to hit the road, then this guide is your golden ticket to helping you turn your tour dreams into dollar-dollar bills y’all! We’ll dive into some of the nitty-gritty of booking profitable tours, and provide you some actionable steps you can take — from mastering micro-touring to wrangling sponsors — so hopefully you come back home with some dough in your pocket. Ready? Let’s roll!

1. Mastering Micro-Touring: Conquer One Region at a Time

Gone are the days of crossing entire continents in one go. I’m not trying to squash your dreams of world (stage) domination, just suggesting that you build up to that point. So…Think micro! Start small by conquering a single region, creating an intense local buzz. Hit up those intimate venues that pack a punch of personality. Your goal? To make sure everyone knows your name before you even step on stage.

And don’t overlook starting right in your hometown/state (especially if you’re just starting out). Years ago while attending my very first music conference ever, the ASCAP EXPO in Los Angeles, I had a random run-in with the executive director of another major music festival & conference in the U.S. He talked about the importance of being the hometown guy/gal first, and said he’d seen artists try to break off into other areas too soon and “not be able to come home.” I took that as not being a good thing! So, hit up your local venues first (if you have venues nearby), and build out from there.

If you’re looking for venues to add to your route, or build a route around, consider grabbing a copy of the Indie Venue Bible. The Indie Venue Bible is a massive directory that contains information on 30,000 venues in the United States and Canada.

Find THOUSANDS of venues, festivals, colleges, bars, coffee shops, restaurants, house concerts, theaters, clubs, halls, churches and book stores — any place you can land a gig!

Click here to grab your copy of the Indie Venue Bible today!

2. Hype Up Your Arrival: Establish a Fanbase Before You Touch Down

Picture hoards of raving fans chanting your name as you step off the tour bus. That doesn’t have to be simply a fantasy; it’s strategy. And the best strategy to use for indie musicians (in my humble opinion) is to use digital advertising on Facebook and Instagram.

Okay, before you roll your eyes right out of your head, hear me out. Contrary to what every other cynical musician and business owner says — Facebook Ads DO WORK. More often than not, the person trying to run the Ads probably doesn’t know what they’re doing. You can absolutely use targeted marketing on social media to build a dedicated local fanbase before you hit the road…USING YOUR OWN MUSIC! Engage them with sneak peeks, teasers, and contests, and by the time you arrive, they’ll be ready to party like it’s 1999!

Oh, and in case you’re wondering — NO, you don’t need to be a marketing expert to learn how to run effective paid Ads. And if you’re looking for a great starting point, feel free to check out my online course (yes, I created it!) called Fanbase Growth Accelerator. You can even see how, using just two videos from one of my live performances, I was able to get nearly 500,000 views, over 10,000+ reactions, nearly 200 shares and more during a 12-week campaign. And I only spent about $2 bucks a day!

Start building your fanbase today with Fanbase Growth Accelerator!

3. Getting Sponsored: Make the Cash Register Cha-Ching!

Sponsors aren’t just for extreme sports and energy drinks. Chances are there are some local businesses from your hometown, or the cities you’re playing that want to get in on the action.

Offer to promote them during your tour, whether through stage shout-outs at shows, on your social media platforms, with some advertising at your merch table, or even consider asking if they want to hold the “after party” at their businesses. If it’s a restaurant, that could be a great collaboration. Fans will get an extra experience with you — eating pizza, playing pool, etc., and the business gets foot traffic that night and maybe for nights to come. And hey, if the sponsor wants to support you financially, that’s great too. They foot the bill, you get the thrills — and a fatter wallet.

4. Tour Smarter, Not Harder: Unique Appearances

Yes, we all know…playing those 300+ cap venues is great, but don’t stop there. Consider some other avenues to play and promote your music.

You might already be familiar with companies that offer secret shows like Sofar Sounds (global) and Side Door Access (mostly in Canada). But whether you are or not, it could be worth (re)looking into. Secrets shows can be great tour fillers, or outright touring options themselves. The fan/artist experience is unlike the traditional venue feel — where audiences are primed to be quiet, attentive and respectful to the artists. Plus, companies like Sofar Sounds pay a minimum (sometimes $100 or more) to each act for the evening. And, you don’t have to do any promo or ticket selling, and you get to keep your merch sales!

BONUS: Try to score interviews at local or campus radio stations or local TV spots if you can. Community radio stations can sometimes have highly invested support bases. See if you can do a quick interview and play a few songs on air, and promote your show for that night. The more people see and hear you, the more likely they are to show up at your gigs.

5. Merch Magic: Pre-Sell Like You’re at a Rockstar Yard Sale

You know there’s NO WAY you’re going to get out of this blog without having the online merch discussion, right?! Selling merch online is one of the absolute simplest, cost-efficient ways artists can make money.

Why wait until the final encore to sell your merch? Pre-sell online before you even start packing up the van, bro. You could create and offer exclusive designs or limited-edition goodies to those who buy in advance. Or, make city-specific pieces that tie in to the local community. Not only does this pump up anticipation, but it could very well cushions your wallet before you even hit the road.

Just remember, the best way to sell online is to take the on-demand, dropship approach. That means when a fan orders an item from your online store, it’s printed (or embroidered), packaged and shipped directly to them. You never have to worry about buying a bunch of merch that will sit around your basement for the next 5 years again!

If you want some help getting an online store set up for your music merch, then check out our sister company Merch Tower. We can help you get your store set up in no time, with no upfront product costs and no ongoing fees. Say “bye-bye” to paying $40/mo. with Shopify. No offense, it’s just that, as an artist, I want to help you save money!

Let’s get started on your Hassle-free Online Store today, with Merch Tower!

6. Budget Like a Boss: Avoid the Touring Broke Blues

Ooh, the fun stuff — budgeting. This is probably the last thing you want to think about doing, right? I mean, most of us don’t even set a budget for our household costs (groceries, internet, gas, etc.). Making a budget for something fun like hitting the road doesn’t automatically lend itself to the “exciting” category.

But business (which is what you’re operating) doesn’t always mean everything is going to be fun or exciting. The goal is to make money, and not go broke on the road. Sit down and create a detailed budget that factors in gas, accommodations, meals, and even a bit of emergency cash. But also leave room for unexpected twists and turns (because, let’s face it, tour life is unpredictable). If you plan for success and stay prepared, you’ll be singing all the way to the bank (and who knows, the bank teller might even harmonize with you!).

7. Keep the Party Going: Post-Tour Engagement

Whew, you made it! The van only broke down twice. You only had to kick one person off the stage. And your drummer…well, those shirts were meant to be thrown into the crowd (see the budget section above!). Tour’s over, right?!

Hold up! Not so fast. You need to keep the momentum rolling by engaging with your new fans post-tour. I mean, you spent all that time developing a base in those cities, igniting them to get out to the shows, rocking their faces off, and then you’re just going to go cold turkey on them? Naw, bruh! Stay active on social media, release that behind-the-scenes content, and thank your fans for coming out. I know you’re tired from being on the road, and you’ve got other things in life to get back to. But staying engaged is how you turn one-time attendees into lifelong SUPERfans!

Alright, so now that your a business-minded rockstar, remember this: Booking profitable tours isn’t just about the music; it’s about strategic planning and clever execution. From micro-touring to snazzy merch pre-sales, to landing awesome sponsors to post-tour engagement, you’ve got all the tools to rock the stage and the balance sheet.

So, tour smart, play hard, and let the road lead you straight to a lucrative music career. Your fans are waiting, and so are those well-deserved dollars. You got this!

Get More From Business Minded Musicians

For more helpful resources to help you grow your music business, visit us at:

And don’t forget to check out The Indie Musician Secrets Podcast on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you listen.

You can also connect with us on YouTube, Instagram, Facebook & Twitter.

Affiliate Statement: You can safely assume that I may receive referral payments if you purchase products using my affiliate links. As with anything, conduct your own research before making any purchases.



Indie Musician Secrets

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