There is nothing more satisfying for a touring musician, than to arrive at the venue and everything is in order. All of the requested equipment is set up and ready for sound check, the publicity has been done, posters are hanging in the window and there is someone to meet you as you load in. Was it an accident that this occurred? Not likely, probably all can be attributed to good planning and someone spending some time advancing the date. The term means to call ahead to the venue and all other associated contacts prior to the play date and confirm all the necessary arrangements with the appropriate personnel.
If you have left matters to chance in the past, I would like to suggest the following information so that your arrival and performance at every gig will go as smoothly as possibly. Much of the following may fall under the job description of a road manager. If you’re not at that point in your career development to afford a road manager, the tasks will fall to you or someone in your group or on your team. When one person consistently advances each date, it will become part of the routine and you’ll be able to head off any problems before they occur.
Timing is a factor when advancing each date. Allow enough time to accomplish specific tasks prior to the start of the tour. If you are making unique requests of the venue or technical personnel, call far enough in advance of the date so there won’t be a time crunch to fulfill your request. Depending on the level at which you tour, you may need to adjust some the time frames to allow for more or less complicated arrangements. The following is suggested to help you tour with ease and manage the many pre-tour details. I have a complete touring check-list in my book, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent THE Musician's & Performing Artist's Guide To Successful Touring. This list is also included in my forms package available from my website, Performingbiz.com
One Month from First Date:
Confirm all hotel or housing information. Get contact names, addresses, confirmation numbers and directions to and from hotel and hotel to venue. Find out under whose name the reservation is made. If there are multiple rooms needed for the group, supply a rooming list to insure a speedy check-in. Ask for any special services you might need such as dry-cleaning, banking, health clubs, grocery stores or restaurants.
Confirm all hospitality and technical requirements with appropriate personnel. If any equipment needs to be rented, review that list. Get load-in, sound and light check times. Make sure you have all necessary contact names and numbers, pagers, cell phones for members of the technical crew. Review any specialty food items and times if meals will be provided.
Alert presenter about any merchandise shipment that will be made. This would also be a good time to get an update on ticket sales if advance tickets have begun to be sold.
Make any necessary travel arrangements--confirm or reserve tickets or rent vehicles. Be aware of discounts available when reservations are made 30 plus days out. If you are touring out of your country, make sure visa and work-permit procedures are under way. Some visas require a few months to complete so don’t leave this to the last minute. Some applications may be lengthy and require a great deal of documentation. Gathering the appropriate information from band-mates can often take a great deal of time, so start these proceeding early.
Two Weeks from First Date:
Check that all the appropriate tickets have arrived and reconfirm any rental reservations. Call the various agencies regarding visas and work permits to update the status if you haven’t received the papers yet. Make sure each group member has appropriate travel papers for the tour.
Review all of your contracts to make sure they are all in and signed. Call the venue contact immediately if you find one missing or unsigned. Re-contact any technical staff to update the status of any special requirements discussed previously.
Compile and send a complete tour itinerary to important people such as family, agents, record labels, distributors, publicists, and support people.
Check all instruments, cases and equipment and make any repairs needed. Update any instrument insurance. Check personal travel items. Refill prescriptions and update emergency road kits if driving.
Get an advance ticket update.
24-48 Hours from First Date:
Call the venue contact to confirm arrive time or driver pick-up. Check on any last minute details and ticket sale updates. Check on your merchandise arrival. Get the name of the person that will meet you for load-in if you haven’t already. Reconfirm directions and ask for any travel updates such as road construction, which may cause delays. Ask about the weather in the area since that may also cause delays and in some severe instances, cancellation. If such a situation occurs, you might want to discuss rescheduling at this point.
Reconfirm any media interviews scheduled for the day-of-show or prior to show phone interviews
Day of Show:
Since this article is dealing with advancing the date, I will leave most of the information pertaining to day-of-show for another time. However, I want to emphasize one item that still falls into the category of advancing the date--unexpected delays. Have the contract and information sheet with contact numbers accessible to you when you begin travel on the day-of-show. Make sure you have multiple contact numbers for the venue and the technical crew--main number, pagers, cell phones, etc., in case any problems arise. If there is a problem and it seems like it will cause a delay in the arrival schedule, call the venue contact immediately. Keep calling until you reach someone who can alert the appropriate people. Don’t just leave a message on a phone machine; you never know whether the person will check their messages that day. They are preparing for your show and may be running around taking care of the show’s details. In some instances, the venue contact may be able to help such as when you’re lost or run into traffic delays and need directions or an alternative route. In other instances, like bad weather or illness, they may need to reschedule the date. Some delays may be temporary but may necessitate juggling acts on a multi-bill event. Early contact with the venue helps prepare for those situations.
The above suggestions will provide you with a template for keeping your tours under control. Depending on the type of touring you do or the complexity of your show, you may need to add items to each time frame or add time to complete specific details. Once you become comfortable with advancing each date, your tours will go more smoothly and you will be viewed more professionally and with added respect.
The next article will deal with the details necessary to make the day of the show a successful one.
Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician's & Performing Artist's Guide To Successful Touring 2nd Edition UPDATED. She had been an agent and artist's manager for 20 years. Currently she consults with artists, agents and managers through her consultation program Manager-In-A-Box and presents The Performing Biz, seminars and workshops at conferences, universities, for arts councils and to organizations. Jeri has released a 3-hour seminar on CD-ROM, Marketing Your Act. The Seminar is set up in 5 modules with information about Marketing, Creating Effective Promotional Materials, How To Access the Media, A Marketing Template and Niche Marketing. No expensive conferences to attend-learn at your convenience to boost your career. Her book, CD-ROM and information about her other programs are available at are available at Performingbiz.com or phone (434) 591-1335 or email Jeri.
* If you would like to reprint any of these articles, please contact Jeri Goldstein for permission.