When Things Go Wrong on Tour
In an intense sports match or battle, things often come down to mistakes and how you can recover from them. It’s no different when you’re touring in a band. Things happen: the van breaks down, shows get canceled, someone gets sick, equipment gets stolen. It’s being prepared for those moments and how you respond to those situations that define who you are, your level of professionalism, and will often determine your ultimate success. Here are a few common scenarios:
Your Show Gets Canceled
If you arrive at the venue to find it closed down or learn that the promoter has double booked the show (which happens more than any of us in the industry would like), you’ll want to make the most of the situation. If you want get paid/sell merch/gain exposure, you’ll need a plan to get in front of some people and book another gig ASAP. Get on the internet or grab a phone book and start calling everyone possible: live music venues, restaurants, bars, strip clubs, book stores, record stores, etc. and see if you just can get on a stage somewhere in town. But there things you can do too:
- Busking – Play on a busy street corner, open guitar case for tips, and promote yourself. Many musicians have made fulltime careers from this. If anything, some pay and exposure than nothing!
- Taking a Night Off – If you’re playing every night, maybe you just want a break. Take care of yourself, rest, etc.
- Online Performance – You could spend that time catching up with fans online. Set up an account on ustream.com and host a live online concert (probably just acoustic) and asking fans to support you using a PayPal donate link.
Nobody likes a cancelation but you might as well make the most of every opportunity. It’s better than throwing a fit and damaging the relationship with a local promoter or being bitter all night.
Your Van or Trailer Breaks Down
This is where roadside assistance comes in handy. Look at plans for your cell phone; it’s generally less than $5 per month but you get the level of service from AAA gold: long distance towing, roadside repairs, etc. You’ll want a long tow option in case you break down in-between cities. The best part is that you can activate it for the months you are traveling and then just turn off that service when you’re not on tour anymore.
Just remember in emergency situations to stay calm, make sure everyone is safe, and then call for help.
Your Music Equipment Gets Lost or Stolen
In a recent entry, I talked about documenting and creating an inventory of your gear incase it does get stolen. Have that information handy and call the police to file a report, then call your insurance company. In addition, you’ll want to:
- Post on the local craigslist. Musicians are usually great about supporting each other on this and will help keep an eye out for stolen goods. You’ll also want to check Craigslist or Ebay to see if your gear ends up there for sales. Same with local pawnshops, though that’s usually the responsibility of said shops and the local police.
- Let the local media know. Often times they’ll help with getting the word about the stolen gear (and might even some press for you)
- Find a way to finish your tour. You might need to borrow gear every night for your remaining gigs – check with promoters/venues to see if a backline is available or ask the other bands that you’re sharing the bill with if you can use some of their equipment. In a worst case scenario, you can buy some used gear or finance some new stuff.
Your Band is at Each Other’s Throats
It’s pretty common for a group of people to begin annoying each other at some point when they’re around each other non-stop. Take some time apart. Be sure to have some time to yourself – either walking around town, reading a book, or whatever you like to do. When arguments arise, take a step back and give each other some air and then talk to each other like grown adults rather than doing things to hurt feelings or ego’s.