Going on tour is the dream of almost every serious musician. Yet, to make the most of that dream, bands’ need to be serious about promotions before hitting the road.

When I first began touring professionally, I was so deeply focused on my music that I neglected to plug my merchandise, circulate my mailing list, and effectively promote myself during gigs. Over the years, I learned my lesson, and it has resulted in a great deal more exposure for my music. In order to lead your band down the same fruitful path to success, there is a 5 step Indie tour self-promotion plan that you must follow.


1. Pre-promote your tour dates through venue-driven promotion

In order to effectively pre-promote your tour dates there are several important goals to accomplish. The first goal is to maximize venue-driven promotions. Venues have local know-how when it comes to promoting live acts. Make sure to supply them with advance press material. Ensure your gig is listed on their website, have them circulate your digital flyers, and request they publish your weblinks. This will enable you to take advantage of their community presence and attract the biggest draw to all your shows.

2. Take advantage of promotional opportunities on stage

Taking advantage of promotional opportunities on-stage is something you simply can’t forget to do. Be sure to announce websites where fans can find you online after the show, tell everyone about your last two tour stops, where the tour is heading, plug your new album, and make mention of any charitable causes your band supports. In addition to playing great music on-stage, it’s crucial to connect with new fans on tour in every possible way. Milk the spotlight as a promotional platform. It’s the best possible way to get your message across and build a national following.

3. Make sure to effectively sell your merchandise after the gig

The best opportunity you have to sell your albums, t-shirts, and personalized merchandise on tour is during and directly after the show. As you form a magical bond with the crowd they will gravitate to buy your music, read your literature handouts, and be interested in learning more about your band. Have someone run a neat and orderly merchandise booth during the show, further entice the audience to visit it by advertising an “artist direct” discount or autographed memorabilia for sale. Also, make sure to sell merch as a band while you meet the crowd after the show. Nothing will make your new fans happier than being able to buy merch directly from the artist they love and support… you!

4. Distribute and collect mailing list info at every show

Collect mailing list information from your audience at all your shows. There is no better way to build a fanbase than asking the audience to “like” your band profile on Facebook or by sending targeted emails about “when the new album drops,” “when your tour will be back in Milwaukee,” or any other band-related news. Approach audience members directly and solicit their information after the show. You’ll find they will be very open to getting in touch with you online after seeing you rock out live!

5. Take advantage of alternative promotions on local radio and newspapers

Many of the cities you’ll be performing in have free local papers with a readership of thousands. The opportunity to advertise your gig in their entertainment section, or have an article printed about your band before the show is amazing. Also, contacting local radio stations to book on-air interviews and short performances prior to your gigs. It’s another effective promotional technique to increase your draw and online album sales. Make sure to contact these stations and newspapers who will be eager to report on your tour as it passes through their city–your show will give them a local hook to consider!

Advertising, marketing, and effectively promoting a national tour requires a big commitment, but it’s one you have to make. The big stars have dedicated teams of professionals who work around the clock to get the word out about their tours, albums, merch, and more. Fortunately, the Internet makes a lot of the same promotional advantages large touring acts have enjoyed for years readily available at your fingertips… and most of them are free. Invest your time in promotions before the tour and enjoy the ride even more after you hit the road!  

Scott Ibex is an author and national touring artist. He has played with members of Chicago, The Rastafarians, Pato Banton and other famous artists, and has licensed original music to MTV. In addition to completing multiple national U.S. tours, he has personally drafted, reviewed, and executed complex performance contracts, liability disclaimers, work-for-hire agreements, technical riders, and other essential music business legal documentation. He also provides consulting services to independent record labels, artists, and has presented music business seminars at universities and public libraries throughout the country. He is a graduate of Earlham College, Whittier Law School, and, when not on tour, resides in Costa Mesa, CA.

Low Budget ROCKSTAR: The Complete Do-It-Yourself Guide to Booking, Surviving and Making a Profit on Your Own Indie Tour is available for purchase at www.orangemoonpress.com, www.lowbudgetrockstar.net, www.amazon.com and www.bn.com.


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