There’s no question about it: Booking a tour can be stressful, especially if you’re going it alone. It’s easy to overspend, either by not shopping around or by forgetting little details that can add up to big cost overruns. Of course using SuchCrowd to make sure there is a demand will cut costs and stress dramatically, but there is no reason to stop there! Here are 10 more tips to help you save money on tour and stop wasting money when planning your events:
1. Book Strategically
Have a 200-mile gap between gigs? Find a likely venue in between and see how it fits into your schedule. If you think you can make it work, call the venue and ask if they have an opening (and if they don’t, ask if they can recommend anyplace else in the area). If they balk on price, offer a discount. After all, you’re already traveling through their area anyway, so it’s like free money in your pocket. You get paid without any extra overhead, and they get to fill an open entertainment slot with little to no effort. It’s win-win!
2. Don’t Forget About the Return Trip
If you’re traveling linearly from gig to gig, don’t forget that you’ll need to follow a similar route home. Line up jobs on the way back to help pay those pesky gasoline, hotel and food bills that you’ll be racking up both ways.
3. Weigh Your Options
Have a venue interested in your act that’s 500 miles out of the way between two gigs that are only 100 miles apart? Unless you can find the time — and venues — to schedule other shows along that 1,000-mile round-trip route, it might be best to politely decline the invitation… this time. Make sure they know you’re interested in getting to their town when the time comes, then research other venues on the way to that area when you start planning your next tour. Unless, of course, they’re willing to pay extra for your additional time and expenses during your current tour. In which case, you might just consider making that long side trip after all.
4. Understand Your Contract
Are drinks included, or will they be taken out of your performance fee? How about food? Are there any other fees you should be aware of? Ask the right questions and avoid surprise charges throughout your tour. At worst, you’ll know to prepare for them. At best, you can negotiate those portions of the contract in your favor. At the very least, hopefully you won’t finish your final set only to learn that you actually owe the house money for the pleasure of having performed there.
5. Join a Hotel Rewards Club
Once you’re a member, make sure you book as many of your nights with that hotel group as possible (most rewards clubs cover multiple hotel chains under an umbrella company). You’ll earn special discounts and free nights that can cut expenses down the road. And if the hotel you’re staying at offers a free breakfast, eat up! That’s one less meal to pay for, and some even offer grab-and-go snacks like fruit, pre-wrapped pastries and granola bars that you can take with you on the road.
6. Help Your Venues Help You
So you’ve got all your venues lined up… now all you have to do is make sure someone knows you’re coming! Hopefully the promoter at your venue has a good relationship with the local media. Have a standard press release with information about you and your act, including a fill-in-the-blank paragraph you can use to personalize the time, date and location of your performance for each venue. If writing isn’t your strong suit, you can have this done inexpensively through creative marketplace websites such as Fiverr.com or iwriter.com. Email the press release, along with a professional group or head shot (in color, with minimum dimensions of 4 by 6 inches and minimum resolution of 300 dpi), to your contact at each venue. Making your act easy to promote might not save you money up front… but the resulting extra ticket sales should help maximize profit and offset any unexpected expenses you do incur.
7. Be Proactive in Case Your Venues Don’t Help You
Do a little online research to find the newspapers that cover the areas where you will be performing. Three weeks before the performance in each city, email the press release and photo to that newspaper. Some might have a specific entertainment editor, but most will at least have a generic email address for news. A few may have forms on their websites for community calendar listings. If they do, fill those out, too. It’s a little extra effort, but worth it if it fills a few more seats (and puts some extra ticket money in your pocket). If the venue’s promoter has already sent in the information, your followup with the paper will serve as reminder about your performance. If the promoter hasn’t, then your follow-through will pay off for both you and the venue — and save some advertising costs in the process.
8. Hit the Airwaves
While you’re researching local newspapers, check for TV and radio stations in the area, as well (for music acts, pay particular attention to the radio stations that play your genre). Find a contact and send an email, attaching the press release, including a link to your website or Facebook page (someplace they can see a performance video or listen to audio samples) and let them know you’d love to come in for an interview while you’re in the area. You’ll be surprised how many take you up on the offer, and this will further help you save on advertising costs while filling seats. Just be warned: The types of local TV programs that normally do cultural and entertainment interviews usually are filmed or broadcast live in the morning — as early as 5 or 6 a.m. Take this into consideration if you’re not a morning person or won’t be pulling into town until after midnight.
9. Be Social
Of course, one of the easiest ways to get the word out about your performances without paying advertising fees is to post your tour schedule on your website and social media pages. Let your fans repost and retweet to help with promotion.
10. Find a Sponsor
It’s not always easy to find a company willing to pay to pair its brand with a performer, especially if you’re just starting out. However, if you’re able to find a sponsor, this can cut back dramatically on tour expenses. Think about in-kind services. You’re going to need gasoline, so maybe a regional chain of gas stations would be willing to give you a discount or a few gas cards in exchange for announcing your tour is presented by them (and using the appropriate logos on your website, social media pages and any other promotional materials). You can leverage your press release in this way by assuring your potential sponsor that their name will be included in materials going out to media in however many towns you’ll be appearing. How about that hotel group you’re staying with? Would it be interested in a small discount in exchange for a mention at your concerts? If reaching out to national corporations seems intimidating (or impossible with everything else you’re doing to plan the tour), think locally. Does your town have a Coke or Pepsi distributorship? Maybe they would be willing to trade a few cases of soda if you wore a T-shirt featuring their brand on stage. Not only would it save you a little money stocking your cooler for the road, but you would be able to align yourself with a national brand. You don’t gain anything by not asking, so why not?
Don’t waste money planning an event. Save money on your next tour so you can spend more time performing and less worrying about where the money will come from!