To tour or not to tour – do independent artists need to go on tour?

That is the question… We needed to finish off the quote. Touring was once a huge part of being a musician. It was sort of a rite of passage. You practised for months on end to then take to the road and perform to crowds. However, tours come at a cost. Are they still needed to make money? Or, have we since found other ways to create funds?

Road trip The Muppets GIF

Going on tour is an experience all musicians should experience once. It’s something no other artist can quite describe. Playing somewhere different each night and waking up in a new city regularly. However, bands and musicians used to go on tour regularly. Every couple of years, if not every year, you’d see the same names appearing in your town. This is great for fans, but it always comes at a cost to the musicians themselves. Not only a financial one, but they miss out on things going on in their own lives. Tours can be mentally and physically draining too. So, it’s all about weighing up the pros and cons about whether it’s worthwhile for you. Maybe it’s something you want to do once you’ve had a bit more growth.

The world went digital

If the pandemic has taught us anything, it’s that we can survive online. Digital streaming took off more than ever because people needed a pass time. They weren’t able to go outside as often as they’d like, so music became an outlet. This was great news for independent artists because it meant their music had more of a chance of being heard. People also had the time to create more. They didn’t have the normal responsibilities of every day life, and therefore they could concentrate on their music. It meant more and more music was being released. While it meant more listeners, it also meant more competition. However, with the world becoming digital during these times, it meant artists could perfect their marketing.

Artists got used to not being able to tour, so they had to find other ways to get their name out there. Many performed lives, this is something they can still do from the comfort of their own home. It doesn’t have to cost anything. Merchandise is also another huge way to make money, you can even advertise it through streaming stores now. Better yet, make yourself a shiny Smart Link containing a link to your merch. People can dance along to your tracks in their bedrooms. With all this being said, tours do have a different feeling. For artists and the fans. Seeing a band or musician you love live in person is a feeling that can’t be beaten. The artist gets a different buzz too. Having the room full of people singing along to your tracks and cheering your name is something you can’t compare to.

Do artists need to go on tour?

Unfortunately, it’s not a straight forward answer. The short version is, no. You don’t need to tour to be able to grow as an artist and make a living off your music. However, the bigger you grow, it may become expected of you. Your fans will want you to tour, whether you think it’s a good idea or not. The decision is ultimately yours. It seems sensible to only start touring once you’re earning enough to at least break even. Otherwise, you’re spending out on a tour you won’t earn anything from. That’s a lot of work and dedication for something that isn’t going to benefit your work financially.

You can’t tour without making money and then continue to do it. You’ll end up spending all your earnings on gigs. Of course, there are extras. You can sell your merchandise on tours and this is the best place for people to buy them. You’re far more likely to sell clothing with your name on while performing to your fans, than you are selling it online. This is because those who really support you will want to support in every way they can. They’ll also want to wear your T-shirt at your tour. So, there are ways to make back what you’ve spent. But, it still possibly isn’t a sensible idea until you’ve grown to a sustainable level. Don’t forget, you can always do local gigs until your name is out there, and then move forward with a tour of your own.

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