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Learn Performing | Survival Tips for Touring Musicians

June 1, 2011
The author, onstage.

The author, onstage.

Touring is an essential aspect of your career as a musician, and the bands that make it in the end are those that are spot-on night after night despite exhaustion, bad venues, and every other obstacle touring bands face, especially in their early career stages. Here are some tips for putting on the best show possible each night despite the hardships that you''ll face on the road.

Before you embark on tour, rehearse the set you''ll play every single night from top to bottom: The song order, blocking, transitions, intro, drum solos, guitar solos, member introductions, and every aspect of your show should be precisely planned out so that your live show is rehearsed like a play. This provides you with a more polished show, and it will ensure that no matter what type of venue or crowd you encounter, your show will not be compromised—even if you''re in a bar with the smallest stage you''ve ever seen, playing to four strangers, you will go up on the stage and deliver the same great show that you rehearsed a thousand times.

Bands tour partly to expose themselves to fans in new places, so get the most out of shows by networking with fans and promoting. The show doesn''t stop after you leave the stage; you should be interacting with people at the merch table, handing out fliers, stickers, etc.—forming relationships with people in the audience to build your fanbase.

Touring and playing constant live shows is by far one of the most draining jobs out there. It is important that you make sure that you are getting adequate sleep, eating healthy, and partying wisely, or not at all. Singers need to be extra careful because our bodies are our instruments; we must go to extreme measures to keep ourselves in good condition. This means doing vocal warm-ups, not talking after shows, drinking plenty of water, and often prioritizing rest over fun.

Never step on any stage without delivering an energetic and polished show, even if there is only one person in the audience, because you never know who that one person could be, and you never know if footage of you playing a show half-heartedly could end up on YouTube the next morning. If there is no one in the audience, or a dead crowd, play to your bandmates, look at each other, and have a great time up there, with the same energy you would play to a large, enthusiastic crowd. Never let a negative attitude show on your face or in your performance; odds are, it will still be a great show if you perform like a polished and professional band, despite your obstacles.

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