Google+ Q Dot: 5 Disasters That Happen to Touring Musicians

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

5 Disasters That Happen to Touring Musicians

Since fall of 2013, i've been zigzagging the United States flying to new cities, seeing the sights being all touristy, meeting the people and playing the venues. It's an absolutely amazing journey especially being that because i'm flying to the cities i've been fortunate enough to play 1 to 2 shows a week, come home, rest and gear up for the next week's shows. Nonetheless, some of these things that i've learned while on the "I quit my job for this" Tour, I hope can serve as the proverbial heads up. 

These things aren't a "might" happen. They're damn near inevitable. So prepare and hopefully you'll be lucky enough to avoid some of this when on the road.

1. You'll have nowhere to sleep except your car. 
This is going to happen for a myriad of reasons. Sometimes on purpose. In my case - I just got caught up in so much other stuff that OOPS! I'd forgotten to book a hotel for the night. By the time I got out of the venue I was too damn tired to try and find the cheapest room in the city so I found a free one. I ended up sleeping in the car, in the parking lot across from the venue. Surprisingly it wasn't that bad of a sleep!

2. The promoter or whoever is supposed to pay up will try to stiff you.
There are just snaky, shady, slimy, greasy ass people in this industry. Not all are like this though, most promoters and venues i've worked with are actually not only really cool people but they take care of touring acts. There have been instances where i've gotten really good meals, great selection of beverages and even a place to crash on top of some moneys. But believe me at some point - it'll come time to settle up and you'll get some bullshit excuse as to why you just can't be paid … even if you're standing in the middle of a packed bar. I had one bar owner tell me - "You sold maybe 5 drinks during your set…I can give you like $5"…Not only was that NOT the deal agreed upon it's a damn slap in the face and since when am I responsible for drink sales?!

3. Local acts will flake on you. 
Doesn't matter where you are in the world, doesn't matter how well you communicate and doesn't matter who you are. At every show, in every city, there is a HIGH likelihood that one of your support acts will send you an email sometime within the week of the show with some lame ass excuse as to why all of a sudden they can't play. Even if they contacted YOU about playing the show. From emergency last minute surgeries to dogs being lost. I've heard em all.

4. A local act will be a dick to you.
This hasn't happened often. There are actually some really dope artists i've met on the road that just so happen to be really good human beings which is refreshing to experience when you're in a new town and know absolutely no one. BUT - whether they're on the bill or not, somewhere throughout the process of booking the show and playing the show, someone will try to treat you like a piece of shit. Like…since you're in THEIR town YOU should show THEM some damn respect. When i'm just like…um, i'm just trying to put on a GREAT show, get PAID and go the fuck to sleep. Maybe a shower tonight would be nice!? 

5. You will play a show to no one.
This is probably true for majority of performers their first time in a new city. You have a great lineup built, the show is packed. But the support acts aren't really support at all. They play their set and go home and with that, all their friends go with them.

Plan early and plan thorough. Pack good healthy snacks and waters and gatorades! Don't eat at gas stations and fast food joints.  Get creative about lodging - this is a tour. Until you're running arena dates you're probably not gonna be staying at the W. 

ADVANCE THE SHOW!!! Iron out those details just before the show so you know how the night is playing out. Do as much promotion as YOU can do. Contact the press, radio stations, lifestyle shops, whoever and whatever you can to help spread the word and then have a great show.