The Summer Touring Checklist – Are you ready?

1880 20

Touring is stressful enough. Don’t make it any harder on yourself by leaving loose ends untied. Before you pile into the van for a summertime adventure on the open road, there are a few simple things you can do to make sure your tour goes smoothly. And trust us – a smoother tour equals a happier tour. We’ve prepared a short checklist to make sure you hit the ground running.

1. Mail Posters to clubs 6 weeks in advance. If possible, write or call the booker to see what sizes and quantities they prefer.

2. Put a tour book together. Print out all the relevant information you’re going to need on tour: an itinerary, copies of emails, contracts, directions, contact lists, etc. Use a 3-ring binder and a hole puncher. Arrange the pages in a neat, orderly fashion for quick reference on the road. Don’t be reliant on iPhones and WiFi.

3. If you’re not renting a vehicle, make sure to get your van, car, or bus serviced. Make sure the oil is changed, brakes are good, etc.

4. Plan your days in advance. That way no one can argue with you when you wake them up to leave at 7am for the next city.

5. Make sure whatever iPods you bring are loaded with music options that everyone enjoys. Otherwise, annoyance sets in. Annoyance leads to bickering. Bickering leads to fights.

6. Bring extras of everything: strings, cables, mics, picks, sticks, etc.

7. Buy healthy snacks. Don’t use your tour as an excuse to pig out on truck-stop junk food and McDonalds. It’ll cost you in the long run.

8. Know in advance where you’re staying each night. There is nothing worse than realizing after the gig that every hotel in town is booked because of the state girls’ soccer tournament down the street.

9. Check in with all the venues a week in advance of your show to make sure everything is still going to proceed according to plan. Adjust accordingly.

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • pls., post more of this kind of thing and in greater detail. bravo.

  • Point 7 es tres importante …

  • Great little article. Thanks.

    I think we need to rethink DIY. It's actually a myth. There is no such thing as DIY. We should be thinking DIT (Do it together) or DIC (do it collaboratively). If you study all the great music successes throughout history, they were characterized by collaborations. Musicians, quite frankly, suck at creating marketing collaborations. In order to strategically succeed in the long run, they must change their thinking.

  • 10. packa $100 Flip Cam to video the behind the scenes stuff – makes a great bonus to add to the other merch!

  • This is great guys. I think CD Baby is the most inspirational site for independent musicians at the moment. Great advice on EVERYTHING!! From recording, distribution, management, accounting, digital presence, to writing songs. WOW!!!I have just shared this with my facebook friends and also have done so on my musicians helping websites. … but now I have just been easier to help people by directing people to CD Baby, it is easier and I just concentrate on my music!!! You will definitely see my next release for The Vagrants one CD Baby digital and FULLY used. THANKS!!!

  • Watch the alchohol and smoke! It can kill a tour, no matter how well planned. It can hurt communication between players and burn out voices.
    Make it professional and GET PLENTY OF REST!
    Enjoy this great country..

  • check out the book by Martin Atkins, "TOUR:SMART, or Breaking the Band" it is full of info like this and more, he holds seminars and so on, i've personally attended one April 9-11th 2010. and although some of it feels like common sense, once you put it to use you'll realize the great investment of you time it was.

  • Eat a salad every day! Stay healthy. Oh, sunscreen, shades and a hat too!
    Protect your instruments and equipment from the weather and thieves.
    Carry maps and important phone numbers.

    See you on the road!


  • Thanks for this article! May I also suggest that in that tour book you have a Mapquest for each Point A to Point B along with the name of your contact and their CELL PHONE number (it does not good to have their home or office number when they are waiting for you on a festival ground).

    The Mapquest will come in handy at the end of the year when figuring your mileage for your taxes.

  • Kevin

    Take advantage of your opportunity as a traveler to enjoy the experience outside of your musical connection. Plan ahead in a way that allows you to appreciate the places you visit while on the road. You don't have to do everything together and sometimes having time away (even if it's just an hour or two) can be a healthy thing for traveling musicians. It might even inspire your art. I also agree with Andy – bring cameras. If you have an interest outside of music, incorporate that into your travel.

  • Write down the names of the people who treat you great at each club (sound, cook, booker, door people). After the tour, send a postcard to each club and/or booker thanking them for the gig and mentioning people by name and how much you enjoyed the gig. If you show appreciation, they will remember next time you want to come back.

  • This is good advice, and just want I needed to know for taking the King of Kings concert on tour. Our first concert is September 12, 2010 – 2-6PM at Langham Park in Mobile, Al. All of you are invited…it's FREE and open to the public.


  • If you are looking for places to stay after the gig, you should check out, a great little website that acts as a couch-surfing site for bands. I joined as a host, and I've met some really great little bands along their tours. It's a great way to meet people, sleep for free and develop relationships with people who will become some of your biggest cheerleaders/fans/street-teamers.

  • *Bring a spray bottle of Lysol for questionable hotel showers.

    *First-aid kit in the van.


    *Be more concerned with making friends and networking than trying to hook up with some random dandies in every town, your return visit will be far more enjoyable.

    *Pull your own weight.

    *Make sure you have the spare tire. AND the jack. AND the wrench. A full set of tools is never a waste of space.

    *Discretely try to keep a notebook with the names of the managers, soundguys, barstaff, etc. in every venue as you meet them. While it is true these people don't always last, when you return you will make a very personal impression by remembering people's names. You are far more likely to remember the faces than the names and the notebook will help.

    *Try to scope out all independent record stores where ever you stop. They might be interested in you and if nothing else, you can always find something that's hard to find where you're from.

    *Chill the f— out! You're supposed to be having fun…

  • Thanks a million CDBABY. You guys ROCK!!! I really appriciate all the good things you do for independent artists. Keep the good vibes coming. Bless you all .

  • all good stuff. I have been thinking about writing a book on the subject. a few points: someone has to be the road manager. goals are to sell as much product as you can and spend as little $ as possible. Fuel is the monkey on your back. couch surf, stay with promoters or get them to get you rooms. don't spend money on hotel rooms if you can help. if you get a room and the hotel has the price posted outside, keep moving. something's wrong.if you sleep in your van, etc. make sure you are in a well lighted safe place. wal-marts are good about letting folks stay overnight in parking lots. black out or mirror shades will allow you to sleep in the daytime in public: parks, etc. without people realizing it, like pickpockets policemen, and thugs. save your stage look for the stage. blend in everywhere else. drink lots of water and get plenty of rest, especially vocalists. and don't talk a lot. save your voice. have the drummer or whomever else is deemed the person with the gift of gab take that job. again a good, experienced road manager is worth their weight in gold. cleanliness. read: don't stink. they have showers at most truck stops. use them. if you're in a pinch, go in a grocery store and get a bunch of those sani wipes they keep for the shopping carts and wipe yourself clean. ok that's chapter one. thanks for reading. hope it helps you. chapter 2: it won't kill you to eat ramen noodles as a staple maybe, but fresh fruit,etc. goes a long way towards keeping down costs and staying healthy. avoid groupies, prostitutes and people who want to get you high in the parking lot. if you got a permit, take a gun, preferably a revolver. a .328 has more knockdown power than most small handguns and is more accurate. a knife comes in handy,too for all sorts of things. do NOT display weapons or cash unless you intend to(and know how to)use them. avoid conflict but don't act scared if you find yourself in one. whomever calls the cops first is the one that doesn't go to jail. usually. keep an emergency fund for breakdowns, bail, trips to the emergency room, etc.. if this is scaring any of you indie kids, i suggest reading "get in the van" by henry rollins and "midnight riders: the story of the allman bros band" whose author unfortunately slips my mind at the moment before you get in too deep. maybe best to start out slow… like stay in a 300 mile radius from home until you get a feel for it. touring can be fun but it is grueling and does stuff to your mind over the long term. so don't be monkeying around thinking you're on some kind of vacation. work everyday. make contacts. go to radio stations , record stores, etc. it'll pay off in spades when you come back around the next time. and maybe that's the most important thing. you have got to keep touring for it to do any good. 2 weeks out the year is hardly worth the effort so keep moving and making new friends and fans.

  • If you are looking to eliminate the cost of lodging on this summers tour be sure to swing over to and start hitting up hosts that we have in cities you are playing.

    We have close to 2500 hosts across the US, Canada and Europe that are happy to host you.

    Thanks and good luck!

  • To Eric Tessmer I say, excellent advice (except for the Lysol in the shower … don't know if I've ever had a need for that one … perhaps the hotels I book are too nice?)

    To Jeff Norwood I say, damn dude what kind of music do you play? The places my band visits aren't half as shady or ghetto as you imply.

    To all newbies I say good luck. Norwood and Eric and a lot of these folks are 100% spot on when they say "chill the f%&* out this is supposed to be fun" and only 2 weeks a year isn't worth it. Networking is a HUGE factor don't under-estimate the importance. You'll know what we mean when you are done playing your show, heading out the door, and ask the manager to rebook you. Then the importance of networking will sink in. Sometimes you have to stick around the club until closing to schmooze with the manager to get another gig. Sometimes that doesn't matter at all. Learn to recognize who is in charge and become their friend, even if they are an asshole.

  • Yod_1948

    Not that you would want to, but if you’re sleeping in the van lowes hardware has free wifii and you can blend into the parking lot because they have a night shift restocking

  • Ha. Great tip!