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Advice for bands looking to tour: How to approach management and conduct yourselves at shows

This is the second in our series of Advice for bands looking to tour. In the first post I talked about logistics of planning a DIY tour (if you missed it, check it out here). This post will cover how to approach management, and how to impress people in the scene when you are out in public. Also, I can't push this enough- have weekly band meetings, maybe this happens before or after a practice and only lasts for twenty minutes or so. But it gives everyone a chance to bring up anything that is on their mind and to make sure that your whole band is on the same page with everything you have going on.

This is another presentation outline, so if you would like me to elaborate on anything I touch on here feel free to hit me up-

Feeling confident about this stuff? Maybe it's time to take some action! My company Inkwell Media Services can help you get ready and potentially help you book some dates- hit us up at and introduce yourself. We'd love to talk to you about your project.

Communicating with a Band/Manager

- Don’t assume that anything is going to happen- be able to pitch yourself well.

- Be professional at shows, don’t promote your fans to do illegal things or misbehave- the big scene is controlled by a small handful of people- impact you make one night is small that night, but stays with you in the future. Keep this in mind when rehearsing your stage show.

-Don’t overpromise yourself, and make sure everyone in the band is on the same page with what they are telling people about your band- if you can draw 50 people, tell people that you can draw 50 people, not 75. One of the worst things you can do as a band is overpromise and under-deliver.

-Have one person from the band be the main point of contact when approaching a management company, venue, or other band, and have them brief the rest of the members on what is going on. This avoids confusion and saying things that don’t get back around to everyone.

-Have a business plan and a way to execute it.

-Each person in the band should have a “back-of-house” role- whether it be booking shows, merch design and management, social media and promotions, driver, etc. Everyone needs to hold everyone else accountable for their job. If the guy who is supposed to drive the van after the show ends up getting drunk, don’t just let it slide. If the manager or person in charge of dealing with the venue forgets to settle up at the end of the night, or isn’t acting professionally when doing so, don’t just let it slide.

-Weekly band meetings, in addition to practice, are a great idea and give an opportunity for brainstorming, venting, and planning.

-If you are going to bring on a manager, do some research. Find someone who knows the scene well. Be willing to pay him/her a 20% cut for the shows they book. Don’t just bring in a friend or significant other to act as your “manager,” it makes your band look ridiculous. If you are going to have a “mom-ager” or a “dad-ager,” make sure that person knows the scene as well. If your Mom goes up to venue management to book a show, settle up, talk about sound, etc., and doesn’t know what the hell she is talking about it is very obvious and makes you look like an idiot. If you’re manager isn’t a music business person, they are going to do nothing to further your career. Everybody wants a piece of the music business- most people aren’t cut out for it.

-The biggest thing about being in a band is that it is easy to be in a band but hard to do it well. There is going to be conflict between friends. There is going to be resentment. There is going to be no money. The best advice I can give is to make sure everyone is on the same page as far as what the band is doing. This is a huge reason why weekly meetings are amazing. Everyone can get on point, and hold each other accountable for being professional not sloppy, on time not late, on point not drunk, and make sure everyone is doing their part. Being in a band is much, much more than just showing up, drinking beer and playing shows. If someone has no interest in doing more than that, kick them out of the band. Many successful bands put up the image that they party all the time and it’s always so much fun and that they have it all figured out- this is not the case. The constant images of bands partying on tour and some kind of leisurely life is a front, meant to brand their image. Any band that can’t be professional in public situations, and is always drunk and out of control, is never going to go anywhere and will not attract any fans, and everyone in the scene will hate them. Keep your shit together and don’t be drunk all the time. Same goes for your manager- they need to act as a warrior for your band. They need to stick up for you and be willing to answer phone calls and emails promptly. If they don’t act as a member, and an ambassador, they aren’t worth your time.

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