Instructions: From your informed perspective, write about 300-600 words in response to the Discussion Topics and Questions below.
What did you learn from Joh Chase’s talk? Did they provide any insight into the elements of being an independent artist that you haven’t thought of?
What are some of the important things to keep in mind while planning/booking a tour? How should you approach emailing a venue owner/booker?
1. I think Joh’s talk was informative in that most musicians who are truly passionate about their artistry have to supplement their income with salaried jobs. It’s a reality shock, especially for people our age, but it is a necessary thing to consider when fully committing to becoming a musician. Also, another insight that i gained from them is that whatever money you’ve spent on the production of the album, you need to dedicate three times as much money towards marketing for your album. That’s a huge hidden cost that I never realized. In order to make money from your craft you have to aggressively advertise its existence; to some extent, the money you put into an album’s advertising is proportional to how much revenue you generate from it.
Here are some things to keep in mind when you are planning to book a tour. First, you’ll have to book venues at least 4-6 months in advance, it’s better if you can get a year before so that venues will have increased availability. Second,you should overestimate your expenses and underestimate your revenue; you shouldn’t put yourself in a situation where you’re consistently losing money on touring. Third, always cut your costs. Find cheap places to stay, eat cheaply, never accept a pay to play venue, factor in gas miles and rent cars accordingly, create a tour that is logical in its movement from city to city to save gas and mental health, etc. Lastly, sell merch! It’s honestly how you’ll obtain most of your revenue while touring. Make sure you have different price points for different types of consumers
You should approach a venue owner/booker with friendliness and respect. Beyond that, you should try to cram as much information about your potential concert as possible within an idea. Include your band/artist name, venue location, and potential date in teh header of the email. For the body, include additional workable dates, artist press kit link, audience proof and subtle ways to beef up your notoriety with the venue (news articles, reviews, internet hype, etc).
2. I thought that Joh’s talk was very interesting and informational. I haven’t had the opportunity in life to meet very many people who have been able to pursue their music ambitions independently because many people do end up giving up when finances become a problem. I thought that Joh had a lot of good advice about the commitment it takes to fund a project and how planning in advance can be extremely beneficial to the overall outcome of a given campaign.
I am not actually a musician, so I never really thought about how artists can begin to make connections with other artists or network with people throughout the industry. From today’s lecture I learned that the network connections an artist can make are sometimes really important when it comes to planning a tour. The connections that artists make can help them to find new tour opportunities, venues, or lodging. I also learned it is extremely important to create a budget outline before starting the tour. Having a rough idea of expenses prior to beginning a tour can help an artist to decide where the best places to go are or if the length of their tour is reasonable. Creating a budget can also help an artist to think about what their realistic income from a tour might be and that can also alter the final tour plans. Overall being aware of the financial realities of travel and potential revenue is important to the planning of a tour because it can significantly alter what you will realistically be able to accomplish in a short period of time.
Emailing a venue owner or a booking agent requires an artist to be both professional and friendly. You want the people you are trying to work with to like you, so trying to be more personable and conversational in an email can be beneficial. The email also needs to give the owner or agent an idea of what your music is about, how many audience members they might be able to expect, and the basic information of your booking plans. Being as clear as possible without coming across as though you are making demands is the ultimate goal in communicating with venue owners and agents.
3. Joh was an awesome guest with very real takes on life as a musician. The biggest takeaway for me was to learn to accept a ‘no’ but be persistent. Another important point they made was to plan on spending more on marketing than on producing the album. This is something I was already relatively aware of, but hearing it from someone speaking with experience hammered it home. That being said, as we talked about before, the marketing must be targeted and effective. Spending 3x your production cost on advertising is only worth it if the advertising is done properly. Otherwise it’s a grand waste of money.
When booking a tour, there are tons of things to balance and keep in mind so being organized is a must. Become a spreadsheet lover. If you already have a decent fanbase, starting with locations where your fans live is a good start. Diving into analytics will show you where to start looking first. Once you have a general idea of what cities will be best to hit, you’re going to have to start reaching out to venues in the area. Have backup venues and cities just in case your first choices don’t work out (they probably won’t). Tour planning should be 6 months to even a year before the planned show in order to give yourself the best chance of availability at the venue and time to plan with the venue. They won’t rush you onto the books, especially if they don’t even know who you are. Budget, Budget, Budget. Tours as a small artist aren’t necessarily to make money, so don’t expect to. Planning ahead of time what your costs will be is very important so you don’t run out of money on the road. Selling merch at shows will be your main source of income, along with ticket sales, but most likely this is only good enough to break even (as a small artist). Exposure is a long term gain.
Appearing put together, professional, and having all your resources in order gives you the best chance at landing shows when you cold call venues and ask them to put you on. Put an EPK together and make sure it is up to standard. Have links that allow bookers to easily listen to your stuff and contact you. Anything that makes it hard for them to figure out what you’re all about could be the dealbreaker. Above all else, be kind and patient. Thank them for taking the time, and follow up if it seems necessary.
4. I thought the guest speaker from Tuesday’s class this week was very interesting, it was refreshing to hear from someone who is a musician out of pure passion. I found Joh Chase to be inspirational because they are playing and creating music purely for their own joy, while completely supporting themself, which seems to be a rare occurrence. Before hearing Joh talk in class I never really gave much thought about the world of an independent artist. I was surprised to learn about all of the work and effort that Joh puts into their work. I feel that Joh Chase is a somewhat unique case because it seems that most artists who are supporting themselves financially and artistically go through a lot of struggles and it is hard to keep your head up and keep moving forward with making music. I would assume that most people would eventually give up on their musical efforts given the fact that they also have a day job, and having so much going on it can be hard to stay motivated and positive about their musical efforts.
When you are planning and booking a tour it is important to have sufficient notice of six months to one year before the concert date when booking venues. So much notice is important because you want to ensure that you have enough time to make a clear plan with the venue and then have the time to promote it in advance of the date. It is also very important to maintain good relationships with people you are working with because it will benefit you later on and make people more inclined to work with you again. If you portray yourself as rude or sloppy or difficult to work with, you are putting yourself in the position that people will be resistant to work with you again in the future. As we learned from Joh Chase, every interaction and connection can be extremely important in furthering and helping boost your career as a musician.
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