Let’s face it – touring is an essential part of an artist’s career. However, it’s safe to say that touring is not cheap. Unless you’re a big-shot artist, you’ll most likely lose money or at best, make ends meet. Thankfully, there are ways to tour on a shoestring budget and make touring a bit more viable. Here are some ideas to get you started.
Tips for touring on a shoestring budget
Plan your route well
Routing can make a huge difference in reducing fuel costs and road charges. Make sure the gigs you (or your booking agent) book make sense in terms of location. Try to book gigs close together to avoid wasting time driving. Allow yourself ample time for rest stops for lunch and coffee breaks.
A drive of 6+ hours long is taxing for the artist and crew. Therefore, plan your routing well before setting out. You’ll thank us later!
DIY tour managing and driving
Having a professional tour manager and driver is great. However, it’s also very costly. Therefore, sharing driving and tour managing duties between band members is a way to keep costs down. If you’re a solo artist, asking supportive friends to help is a good way to still tour on a shoestring budget.
Prepare meals beforehand
Staying healthy while touring is imperative. However, this does not mean you have to spend a lot of money on food. Bring snacks, tinned food, and just add water meals to supplement you while you’re out on tour. Stop at supermarkets and grocery stores to grab ingredients which you can cook at your accommodation.
Some foods you can prep on the road with a shoestring budget are sandwiches, wraps, ramen, noodles, fruit salad, and instant oatmeal. Don’t forget instant coffee, of course!
Stay with friends
Staying at friends, committed fans, and friends-of-friends’ places is a good way to tour on a shoestring budget. Sleeping bags, mattresses and pillows are essential when you’re couch surfing. Is it the most comfortable way to tour? Definitely not! However, it’s a good way to save money and still get a good night’s sleep.
Negotiate the deal
Negotiating the deal is crucial to making sure you’re not playing for peanuts. If you’re not getting paid for the shows, at least negotiate a meal and accommodation. It may not always be possible for promoters to cover everything, but it doesn’t hurt to ask!