Mikkie Mills
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Preparing to Go on Tour as an Independent Artist

These tips will allow you not only to have your full creative control, but also to maintain the same level of professionalism as any major artist you find while traveling.

A self produced musician is when you make music and support yourself, in the form of booking agents or managers from a major company. Do you do it yourself if you hired someone who is promoting your tour? Are you ready for the road trip? What if someone has helped book you? Do you play at traditional music venues or play hard at home and non-commercial shows? Does your project depend on external help? I am often asked to share my advice on how artists plan their tours, so I wrote it down, to share some of what I learned on the road. These tips will allow you not only to have your full creative control, but also to maintain the same level of professionalism as any major artist you find while traveling. 

What is independent music?

For me, independent music comes from punk rock. I grew up with that kind of music that initially inspired me to learn the guitar. These bands and music were the spark for me to also begin writing my own music. Aside from the logistics and the known facts of what an independent artist is, in my opinion, they are their own sub genre as well. Something about a group or solo artist that has created their own sound and lyrics from their bedroom has a strength that can’t be found in a studio.

Have you ever listened to an acoustic track from an artist, then listened to their studio version that was produced? Could you notice a big difference? With lots of studios and producers, they want to create a “popular” sound that people will like and enjoy. Too many young artists focus on creating a radio hit but they lose something in that process. They lose that soul and heart, that you can clearly hear in the raw acoustic track.

On top of creating their own sound, independent artists are organizing tours and events to boost their name.

Planning the Tour

Before you begin touring, you need to make sure everything is well planned out. Make sure your electronic printing kit is polished, to be submitted to the venue, and that all your social channels are consistent, and your website is up-to-date. It is recommended that you create a press toolkit. Use a social media scheduler to pre-arrange the band's social media postings, and keep an eye out for release times. You want to get a reliable car, like a Nissan Rogue.

Booking Plans

For a while, hiring a booking agent was considered to be the difference between commercial bands and bands that could be called independent. But organizing a tour can cause the band problems. The reservation network is informal and constantly changing. The time and effort you spend organizing your trip may feel like a full-time job, especially for musicians who are already traveling. I am a big fan of do-it-yourself creativity.

I plan on doing tours to support my music, and I need tips on ordering shows. I try to save money at all stages to pay for travel expenses. I consider who I should book with, and if I have any friends with contacts. I draw out the roadmap and schedule dates along the way. I finish recording before the tour, and put together an album on Soundcloud.

If you make music, and want to connect with like-minded people, you should book shows. Some people use time off of school to tour, like a gap year travel program of sorts. You will learn a lot about artistic expression and create a network for your artistic practice.

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Preparing to Go on Tour as an Independent Artist
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