One of the Things I'm asked most about is not just how I'm able to tour but why take these sporadic dates zigzagging the country?
It defies all touring logic in where an act books of series of dates in towns within an hour or so drive of eachother. For example: Bellingham to Seattle, Seattle to Olympia, olympia to portland, portland to Eugene. But for me it was something like Seattle to NYC, NYC to Spokane, Spokane to Denver, Denver to New Hope, PA, NEW hope, PA to Salt Lake City.
There is a method to this madness and the method was rooted in test marketing. It went as follows:
1. I vowed to take any show opportunity anywhere I could get it whenever I could get it. NO EXCUSES. I quit my job packed up and went wherever my name was on a flyer. That doesn't mean I didn't attempt to route dates close by - I most certainly did but as a novice booking agent I did what I could.
2. I needed to take in all the data I could about the city I played and when. Was my show the only game in town? Is this a big city? College town? Data data data.
3. I took note of the outcomes. What was the general sentiment of the crowd? Was there a crowd? If so why? If not why? Who was the local support? Who was the promoter? How do they factor into the local scene?
4. I added in promotional efforts like college radio, online ads, etc and measured what kind of affect they had on the show beginning to end. Did having radio play in the market affect the bookers decision? Did it have an affect on the turnout?
5. I measured things like: who bought merch? Who declined? Why? How did they purchase? Cash or card?
By detaching myself from a specific goal like ticket sales I was able to come to a conclusion on some key things going forward.
The first being: can I actually tour?
Next was: where I had the biggest successes and what did those cities have in common? What were the factors?
Then came: what markets didn't work and what were the factors?
So after roughly 100 shows in 3 years with close to 70 of those being out of state I have an idea of what works for me and where so going forward I can efficiently tour and plan according to what I know.
We can tackle markets that mirror the successful ones and still build in those where we see big opportunities going forward.
That my friends, is the method to my madness and how I'll happily go from NYC to Bumfuck Nowhere :-)