How to stay organized on the road
Two August 15ths ago, I got in an Extended Length Ford Expedition with my backing-band/friends and we didn’t come home until 20 cities, 22 shows, 10,000 miles and 45 days later.
When I started planning the tour, sitting on the couch with coffee ice cream on my tray table and my laptop as my only weapon, I was sending like 8 or 9 booking emails per city, had lists of things I wanted to remember to pack, set lists and lists of sound equipment we’d borrowed. And there was contact information for venue owners and the names of websites and newspapers I wanted to promote my shows on. And then there were the places we’d be staying and Food Network featured BBQ spots I wanted to check out and the music bloggers I wanted to invite to shows.
One word: Spreadsheets.
Even more importantly though, was … “The Binder.” It was massive. And my lifeline on the road.
Here’s how to recreate it:
1. Get dividers for each day – For each day we were on the road, we made a section labeled with the date and where we’d be. (i.e. August 15th – driving from DC to NYC or August 29th – rest day in Nashville)
2. Print out directions – In each day’s section were printed out MapQuest directions (should Edith, our GPS fail us,) from the previous city to the venue, and from the venue to where we’d be staying that night. We were glad for them that time we found ourselves on a pitch black, windy gravel road in rural Tennessee, when after failing to offer directions for 5 miles, Edith said, “You have reached an area that is unmapped. Goodbye.”
3. Break out Microsoft Word & make “show pages” – There was also a “show page” in each section that my dad created with the name of the venue where we were playing, the venue’s address, our contact person’s info, a box to check whether or not that venue had its own equipment, a space to write how much money we made selling CDs and merch, a space to write how much we spent on gas that day and any random notes … as in, Charlie, the cafe owner hates the song “Hallelujah” … don’t cover it tonight … or such and such blogger will be there – make sure to give them a CD.
4. Get a big envelope for receipts – The binder also had a huge envelope to put all of our receipts in (for food and car repairs and batteries for my Flip Video and such) so that I’d have an easy time doing taxes later.
5. Don’t forge the extra stuff – Postcards, press kits, addressed and stamped envelopes you can use to mail receipts to CD Baby from credit card swiper CD sales at shows and an envelope where you can put business cards from people you meet on the road and want to follow up with once you get home.
And BAM! Ready to rock. Literally.
I hope these ideas are helpful! Leave your touring tips as comments!
P.S. www.travelmath.com is your new best friend. I used this to calculate driving time and distance between cities, as well as how much gas would cost for each leg of the trip (for our specific car!)
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