The life of Tour Management
In the fall of 2016 we spoke on the phone about our love of booking showcases for young musicians and bands. Our common frustration inspired the All You Got Tour brainchild. Working with top venues was often expensive, but also stressful for young musicians to fill the room, especially those that are only beginning building a fan base. We believed that between the talent of these young growing musicians and their stories of inspiration, that they deserved better. They deserved captive audience shows with peers and families appreciating their music.
We didn’t expect we’d be planning our 4th tour season at the time we jotted tour concept ideas down on a napkin in December 2016 which was our first official meeting. It’s been one of the most rewarding times we have both experienced. We have seen artists who timidly walked up on stage terrified, to now holding their heads high and owning the spotlight. One friend of a tour parent recently posted on Facebook, “How does your son get go many great gigs?” That is the type of comment we love the most, as people are recognizing we offer a unique experience that is hard to find elsewhere.
We will soon be completing the 2019 All You Got Tour with the final tour stop planned for the Blink show at Faneuil Hall on December 14, 2019. Since the tour began in June 2017 we have done over 100 shows throughout New England, and have had over 100 participants. When we first connected with a casual discussion on youth music in 2016, things progressed quickly from a napkin concept, to a 45 tour stop season in the first year. In the early planning months, we thought the doors would open wide for the young performers with top performance opportunities at festivals, venues and special events, but it wasn’t as easy as we thought. To confirm new tour stops required months of repetitive calling to new prospective venues, many of which were met with comments like, “It is not a good fit for us,”, “We have filled all our spots for the season”, “Our committee will have to review it, and will get back to you”. Persistence and patience were required each and every day along with a positive outlook. It was not unusual to make a day’s worth of calls, and never reach one decision maker or have one call returned. Over time we adopted different strategies to obtain tour stop confirmations, and found face-to-face meetings and venue drop ins worked best. There were no confirmations received in the first call, and the majority required marketing presentations and multiple calls. All the marketing activity was recorded on our master tour planning documents, so we had a detailed recap of the calling history and key contact data on decision makers.
Venues with high ratings
In the early years, we were excited to accept most shows under the terms and conditions presented, but after living through the tour experience for two years, we made some decisions we felt dramatically changed the quality of the tour. As an example, some shows were only an hour in duration making it difficult to fit a good number of artists on them. In 2019 the focus was to do more repeat venues and lengthen the shows to 3-4 hours long. This enabled us to organize a show with a mix of solo and band performers and cover all genres of music. We have had showcases at the Hard Rock Cafe, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Lawn On D, Mixx360, Lorettas Last Call, Hampton Beach Seashell Stage, Salisbury Beach, Breakaway Tavern and many more.
In 2019 we had several venues that we had multiple events at. This worked great as we knew the management well, and knew the venues requirements. We also knew these shows would be preferred shows for many of the performers. Hampton Beach Seashell Stage has been a long-term venue as Patty has been doing shows there for over 8 years. We positioned this venue as an anchor relationship for the 2019 season. Other anchor relationships we have solidified throughout the years include SoWa Market Boston, Food Trucks of America, Lawn on D, Faneuil Hall Marketplace, Hard Rock Cafe, Lorettas Last Call, the Laconia Pumpkin Festival and the Scooperbowl Ice Cream Festival.
For the 2020 season we plan to have 4-5 anchor relationships at quality locations. Every year the plan is to grow the tour in new directions and provide new and interesting opportunities to the tour performers. We also plan to add new shows and new venues to the 2020 tour including food halls, museums and more charity events. We want a tour everyone can growth with.
The Tour band is a collaboration of multiple instrumentalist ranging from 13 to 20 years old, who learn a set number of songs and perform together throughout the tour season. These young musicians and singers work very hard to learn the songs on their own, show up to the practices prepared and perform with enthusiasm. In 2019 we had close to 20 artists participating in the tour bands. The future plan will be for the members to practice up to five times in the off season to work on harmonies, set list development and stage presence in preparation for the bigger shows planned for 2020, one of which will be at an iconic Boston venue.
The 2020 tour will be dedicated to raising bullying awareness. This will be included on our marketing flyers, banners, website and in all marketing promotions. We will also dedicate tour stops to fundraising for top national bullying awareness charities like Lady Gaga's, Born this Way. The statistics on those impacted by bullying are alarming. We find it important to operate an all inclusive music tour. Our mission is to make sure everyone is treated respectfully and appreciate each others differences.
According to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice…
About 20% of students ages 12-18 nationwide experienced bullying.
Approximately 30% of young people admit to bullying others in surveys.3
70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools.3
Students ages 12-18 reported being bullied at school during the school year, 15% were bullied online or by text.
An estimated 14.9% of high school students were electronically bullied in the 12 months prior to the survey.
Each tour stop requires the show to be aligned, set lists to be developed, venue documents to be executed, backline to be organized, sound to be arranged, gig sheets to be sent and show flyers to be posted on social sites. The top challenge has been to organize a show, and have it go off as planned. Cancellations happen and require 10-15 hours of show reorganization. Just one cancellation seriously throws off a show, as we are required to fulfill the terms of our contracts, so set lists and performers frequently need to be readjusted.
Despite trying to organize a manageable calendar there are some weeks we have had six shows when adding in our other venue relationships. Tour exhaustion is a common challenge, as there are weeks we are glued to our phones texting and communicating tour information to the participants and venues.
The tour has advanced in quality each year
The tour performers have had a fulfilling experience
The tour is easier to book each year, as our presence and image continues to expand
The tour performers have made valuable new relationships
As tour directors, we have grown closer in our day-to-day activities to the point we are now finishing each others’ sentences. It is a special bond that is powerful, and makes it easier to manage through the challenges while also celebrating the successes.
2020 will be our biggest year yet, so stay tuned!