Life as a Touring Musician

Life as a touring musician can be immensely rewarding and exciting. Few things can be better than traveling from city to city sharing your music with fans. That’s not to say that there aren’t certain drawbacks to the touring life, however.

Life on the road can get a little lonely at times. It can sometimes be tough to cope with the downtime, too. Musicians tend to spend hours and hours in transit. They tend to spend a lot of time waiting around in unfamiliar hotel rooms as well. If you’re a touring musician who wants to make the best out of your time traveling in the tour bus or hanging out in hotel rooms, there are numerous things you can do.

There are several ways you can fight boredom and kill time at the same time.

1. Write New Music

Time on the tour bus can be inspiring. The same goes for time in hotel rooms. Being on a tour bus can be a wonderful opportunity to write brand new music. Being in a brand new environment can be great for your creative side.

It doesn’t matter if you feel like penning a song about loneliness and homesickness. It doesn’t matter if you feel like penning one about the excitement and thrills of being on stage thousands and thousands of miles away from home, either.

Writing new music can be both productive and engaging. It can give you fresh new touring material for the future as well.

2. Promote Your Band

Promotion is a big part of being a successful musician in this day and age. Musicians have so much on their plates with social media platforms. If you want to kill time on the tour bus or waiting around in a hotel room, it can be a smart idea to promote your band on social media.

Use this precious time to post images on Instagram detailing your time on tour so far. Use this time to respond to fan questions on Facebook and Twitter. Musicians who are active on social media websites have the ability to increase fan engagement. The more active you are on social media, the easier it will be for you to promote your tour.

If you’re bored in a hotel room, use your laptop computer or mobile device to post a blog discussing the fan response in the last city you visited.

 

3. Play Drinking Games

If you’re a touring musician, chances are you’re not alone when you’re on the bus or in a hotel room. That’s because you most likely have band-mates who can share the time with you. It can be a true joy to be in the company of fellow musicians. It can be particularly fun after shows at night.

If you want to have a blast after a stop in one city, drinking games can be a fun choice. If you happen to have cards on hand, you can play a game such as Go Fish. There are so many choices in popular drinking games out there nowadays. Drinking games can be a wonderful way to pass the time on the tour bus or in a hotel room.

They can also be a fantastic way to bond with bandmates, merchandise sellers, roadies, tour managers and friends galore. And even if you don’t have a large group, there are even some 2 person drinking games out there that you can play.

4. Read a Great Book

Musicians are usually creative and sensitive people. They, as a result, tend to get a lot out of other forms of art. Reading a book can be an inspiring thing for musicians. It can broaden their horizons. It can help them get ideas for brand new concepts of their own as well.

If you want to enrich your mind and kill time simultaneously while on tour, reading a wonderful book is without a doubt a way to go. If you have no idea what to read, request recommendations from fans who follow you on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

5. Catch Up on Some Rest

There’s no arguing that going on tour can be exciting and fun. There’s also no arguing, though, that it can also be immensely tiring and draining. Musicians tend to keep strange and unpredictable hours when traveling so much. The lack of rest often catches up them with as well.

If you want to be productive and alert as can be while on tour, it can be wise to catch up on rest when you’re on the tour bus or in hotels. If you’re unable to sleep easily on the tour bus, don’t fret, either. Invest in a sleep mask that can make your environment a lot darker and more relaxing. It can even be beneficial to invest in earplugs that can make your environment markedly quieter and more peaceful.

The more sleep you get, the better you’ll feel on the stage!

Getting Into The Music Industry

Getting noticed in the music industry is really no different than other careers. And a successful musician will think of his music business as just that – a career. Record label executives are not interested in what you will do. A very fitting quote by hip hop artist Kevin Gates is “say what you doing and not what you finna do.”

kevin gates quote say what you doin - Copy

This means that it’s important to establish what you’ve accomplished and demonstrate an upward trajectory in your career. Anyone can pull a dream from the sky and pitch it in eloquent tones. A&R guys want to be shown what you’re doing and what you’ve done; you’ll never even get in the door without something to show unless you have some otherworldly potential.

If you’re not a prodigy, getting into the industry is going to be a bit harder because you will need to prove more before you are even given an opportunity.

Do you have a demo recording? Do you play live shows? How many? What is the extent of your current fan base?

These are questions a successful musician will be able to easily handle with a dynamic approach to self promotion.

Get the word out about your band, new recordings and upcoming shows through social networking sites like MySpace, Facebook, YouTube and others. Start with friends and spread out to other users to build a solid fan base.

It is still possible to get signed to a recording deal after winning a musical competition, and it doesn’t have to be American Idol either. Many cities have venues that host competitions and others are held on regional and state levels as well as online. Having awards under your belt only adds to your band’s reputation.

If you have already built a strong fan base when you get your demo into the hands of a recording executive, that is only going to make the attractiveness of your music all the more to those who hold the purse strings.

Here are some more tips from Nick Gatfield who was at the time, CEO of Sony Music (UK). In fact, the very first tip he shares is that you shouldn’t send anything unsolicited. Create your buzz FIRST!

Watch for more:

How To Get Your Music Heard

Getting heard is every musician’s biggest challenge. Fortunately, the days of begging friends and family to attend shows and hoofing it around town with a stapler in one hand and a pile of poorly drawn show fliers in the other are over.
Technology has arrived and ushered in a new era of self promotion. As a result, plugging your band and getting bodies out to your shows has never been easier as long as you are familiar with the territory.

Rule No. 1: It’s all about social networking.
Here are a few sites you should become intimately familiar with as you move forward with a promotion plan:
Facebook/MySpace – Join and get to work amassing a loyal following of friends and strangers. These sites are a great place to share photos, push calendar dates (for shows) out to your “friends” list, post audio and video files of your music. The possibilities are endless. Several years ago Myspace was the shit but it’s kinda fell off.

Reverbnation – a popular choice for music lovers and artistes to share their music. Mostly used by up and comers such as yourself and those who love undiscovered or underground music.
Twitter – It’s easy to gather a large following quickly on Twitter. Search options allow musicians to pin point a target audience and pursue those followers. Then, keep your fans up to date on band goings on with 140-character “tweets.”

YouTube – Join this site and start your own channel. There you can post music videos, performances, audio recordings – whatever. And it does work – Justin Bieber went viral through the popular video sharing site.

Soundcloud – similar to YouTube, except you upload only audio. Upload your demos/mixtapes and whatever other works you have here and invite feedback.

Foursquare – Another social networking site that is changing how musicians self-promote. This site allows you to “check in” at various places so that all of your fans will know when you are playing and where.

Fanbridge – A site designed specifically to connect with fans and musicians in a way that is meaningful and long lasting. Fanbridge is a great way to develop a loyal fan base of people who have a strong interest in music and are more likely to buy recordings and attend shows.
The best part of all, every social networking site mentioned is easy to set up and use and is free. Now, the only thing holding your band back from stepping up to the next level is you. So get social!

How to Market Your Music

It’s never been a better time to be a musician than now. Innovations in technology has made it easy for anyone to get their music out to the masses.

The Internet has changed the playing field in a number of significant ways. It used to be that if you wanted to reach 90-10,000 people you absolutely could not do that without the cooperation of corporate record labels and radio stations.

Now all it takes is a YouTube channel and some good tunes and a quirky, funny or cringe-inducing video and you might go viral. Word of the new thing spreads like wildfire on the Internet.

Harness social net working’s potential. Sites like Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, Foursquare and others are terrific vehicles to build fan bases. Many have groups and search options specific for musicians.

Live shows are still one of the best ways to attract new fans and energize your loyal followers. Use Twitter and Foursquare to send out alerts about upcoming shows. No matter how small your venues, have a few t-shirts for sale along with your demo CD.

Some of the best options you have for self-promotion are free and right at your finger tips. Of course, that doesn’t negate the need to have a polished demo recording that is professionally packaged – or as close to it as your budget allows.

Creating a Demo

“Dress for success,” an old saying goes.

The same sentiment can be applied to your music demo. If it appears amateurish, an amateur you will likely stay.

More times than not, a poorly packaged demo recording will not even be heard. So even if you’re the next Dylan or Ga Ga – it won’t matter.

But, by following a few simple guidelines, the story doesn’t have end that way.

Never forget: A polished demo packet is crucial, critical, absolutely essential.

There’s another old adage – this one in business – that you have to spend money to make money. If at all possible, hire a graphic artist to design the CD jacket and a publisher to print. And put some money in the recording itself. The drummer’s home recording “studio” is great, but check into local studios who may have attainable rates for the final recording sessions.

But if this is a do-it-yourself gig – and there may be no other way – there are a few things that will make your demo packet look, well, not-so-homemade.

Use good quality paper that has some thickness to it and a professional printing machine. Many self-print stores are available for self-publishing needs at affordable rates. Keep in mind that record label types get hundreds and thousands of demos. What makes your demo stand out?

Print your music on high quality CDs. Don’t skimp here. The better the sound quality, the better the chance of the music being heard the way it was intended.

Give the CD holder something brief, but creative, that describes the band and its sound. Make sure the band has some good photos to choose from for cover art. Something attention grabbing that sells the band without words is what you want. It’s as important as a head shot to a Hollywood actor.

What is ADA Music

ADA Music is a blog created and maintained by Kyle Dale. ADA are the initials of my three children in the order of their birth.

I am a record producer in Phoenix, AZ and I work with many artists in various genres. I’ve worked with a few big names but I don’t name drop. In my 14 years in the music industry, however, I’ve gathered information that can be helpful to up and comers.

Mostly geared at music professionals seeking to advance their careers, I provide you with links and other music information and resources found around the Internet that can help you in your journey.

Even though we provide the information, it is ultimately upon you to execute and make it big.

I don’t have much time on my hands and I started this blog just as a hobby so if you would like to contribute a post, or ask any questions, use the contact page or send me an email at admin@adamusic.net.