Preparing for Tour
So everything is set in motion, the promoters have all the contracts signed and ready to go, your agent has all the riders sent off and received by the venues; everything has been taken care of business wise. Now there's only one person left to get their part done before the tour begins, you. There are many small details to keep in mind before a large or even small scale tour, but as you maintain a focus on the three large aspects, the minor ones will fall into place.
First, the band comes before everything. It takes committed people to get together and rehearse your songs over and over, because the main killer of any tour is a loose band. When the music falls apart on stage, so do the musicians, and not just onstage. Many backstage arguments that can lead to a downfall usually start from just one member bringing up how someone "missed a change" or that the singer forgot a word, with which the drummer uses as his cue which in turn cues the guitarist to start his solo and onward and onward, until one simple little mistake one person makes has now become a huge problem for five people. The practice sessions can serve many purposes. Rehearsing your songs will give you an idea of how tight you are as a group, and then from those songs you can decide which ones to leave out or work on, because next comes the setlist. Once a thought out and planned set has been decided upon you can focus on those songs. And the set list can be so key to a great night or a terrible one. If you always have a predetermined length to play, you have to choose the first and last songs that will capture the crowd most, the two "hits". From here you know how much time to fill in the gaps you have. At the final rehearsals you can then discuss the extra details. If its a van tour, you can work out a driver rotation schedule for example. So with these final rehearsals you should have now : Chosen a final set, practiced it to the point of exhaustion, and figured out every little detail between you and your band mates.
Another key factor is now taking the business role delegated to just you. This will be important if you are in charge of any of the aspects like web design, endorsements, last minute contracts, or label contacts. If you have any of these responsibilities in the band its key to remember that the people you will be dealing with on a last minute basis also have other clients they will be working with. Be persistent. It's always great to deal directly with the companies yourself, or if you have a manager, have them set up a meeting whether on phone or in person for you and the company/label. Maintaining personal relationships in the industry is a sure way to keep the other side happy with your work and it lets them know you aren't just there for the free stuff.
Your method of travel will dictate what you bring along for the tour, as well as the length of the tour. Some people tend to over think this and not just make a simple check list. There are some simple and obvious things you have to have. If you are traveling out of the country, a passport. It may seem ridiculous to look over something so obvious, but i personally know people who have had to have passports fed-ex'ed overnight so they can leave, and people that didn't know how long it takes to get a passport and have had to pay triple the amount to get a rush one done. So the best thing to do is make a check list with a little outside help. As corny as it may be, take a fodors travel guide and simply copy the check list. Everyone traveling internationally basically needs everything that a touring musician would need, they are almost one in the same, besides work visas, residency permits, and tax identification papers.
I am preparing to leave for Ozzfest this week, one of the biggest metal tours you can do worldwide. I have so far done the final rehearsals, we have decided the setlist. I have worked with the companies to ensure we have everything we need equipment wise and merchandise wise. My check list has been made and almost everything gotten. So now the emotional and mental part begins. Is there any fear or apprehension? And what about loved ones. You may not see your friends, girlfriend or spouse for months. Have you spent enough time with them and do you have a system of communication worked out with phone calls and visits. I must admit, I am a little worried of how we are going to be perceived on the tour, but with these worries can come joy. Realizing that you may do well and everyone may enjoy your band. I also am lucky, my wife gets to go with me. So i will give updates from the road, my fears, my joys, my worries and my good times. I hope some of your that read this at least learn something from it or well, I guess maybe just get a good laugh.