There is nothing more eye-opening for a musician than embarking on that first tour. But the flip side of this is that preparing for a tour can be daunting as well. It might only be two weeks hitting regional college bars, but there are many preparations you’ll need to make. Proper preparation ensures the tour goes as smoothly as possible.
It goes without saying that a band just starting off will have a very different experience than a band on a major label. There will be differences in terms of what you will have to handle personally instead of management and the label. Regardless of who does the job, however, there are a few things every drummer should have.
From equipment needs and preparations, to legal issues and personal needs, here’s everything you need to prepare before going on tour.
One of the main things you’ll want is protection for your equipment. Hard cases for your drums, preferably ones with wheels, work best. Sure, it costs more money, but it will protect your equipment better than soft cases will. Your drums can take some damage from all the loading and unloading, so you want to keep your equipment intact and ding-free.
Other materials you’ll want to consider are good for replacements or back-up. These can include:
- Double bass pedal
- Replacement clutch for your hi-hat stand.
- Tape for your drumsticks
- Strings to hold your snare in place
- An extra set of in-ear monitors
The main thing is to try and balance your load. You want a replacement for everything you use one stage while also adding as little extra weight as possible. This will require you to make an educated guess about the condition and longevity of your equipment.
Most bands will have a manager whose job it is to deal with the legal side of touring. However, there are some areas you may want to double-check on your own.
Contracts: The first thing is to make sure you have confirmation for the gigs. You’ll want to make sure you’ve signed all contracts. In addition, you should receive a minimum of 50% of the deposit before the band goes on stage. This way you are at least assured of getting paid.
Cancellation Agreement: It also helps to know what will happen if there is a forced cancelation of the show. At least one band member should be in contact with a person at the venue. This ensures you receive the payment you are supposed to. Unfortunately, you can never be too careful in the music industry.
Travel Paperwork: The other area that you should make sure you are prepared for involves the route you will be traveling and any border crossing you may have to make. Having the incorrect paperwork can scupper a tour before it begins.
Tech and Hospitality Riders: Other areas you might not think about looking into involve making sure the venues have a tech rider for your band. A tech rider will know what equipment you may need. They can apprise you of what they have on hand.
You might also look into if the venue has a hospitality rider. Smart bands use these riders to make sure the venue is taking your well-being seriously. Like Van Halen infamously requesting no brown M&M’s backstage, it was a test to see if the promoters actually paid attention to details.
Merch and Money: Also check if the venue plans to take a portion of the profits from any merchandise you sell. It is becoming standard for venues to now charge between 10-20% of any profit made by band selling merchandise.
Likeness Rights: Lastly, it is always important to find out if the promoter intends to keep likeness rights and whether they can record and profit off the performance. If a venue or promoter insist on keeping all the rights, then there is usually very little recourse for a band. It is best to find out about this sort of agreement before you leave for the road.
This deals with all the other areas related to touring. They don’t so much affect the band as much as they can affect your time and experience.
Earplugs: The tour bus or van can be truly loud at times. As such, you want to remember to bring a dozen or so pairs of earplugs. This way, you can keep your hearing protected for years to come. In addition, earplugs are a great way to get a little peace and quiet while on tour.
Minimal Packing: The main thing to make sure of before you leave on tour is that you aren’t overpacked. The last thing you want is to be cramped more than necessary when trying to sleep.
Charging Devices and Cell Service: It is also important to make sure that you have plenty of charging tools for all of the band members’ smartphones, laptops, and other electronic devices. Also, if you are touring abroad, make sure to contact your cell provider. Your cell service might not be available when you enter a new country.
Tools: It also will come in handy to keep a spare set of tools on hand in case of an emergency. If you’re on a tour van, make sure to have tools for roadside maintenance.
Stashed Cash: It is also important to always carry some cash to take care of unexpected events. You want to keep this cash stashed away for emergency funds.
The Longer the Tour, The More You Should Prepare
Going on a tour can be one of the most enjoyable aspects of being in a band, but at other times, it can be a bit tedious. However, with ample preparation, you will be ready for a successful tour.