IHM News

IHM Road Tips Vol.4: Planning Your First Tour Pt.2

Posted By : IHM, Posted On : July 26, 2013

The following blog post assumes you have great music and a solid live show before hitting the road. Not sure? Contact Bram, head of IHM Artist Relations & Support about a show evaluation,, on twitter @bram_rocks or call 877.994.6446 xt. 2.


Now that you understand the importance of having realistic expectations for your first tour, mastered the art of building relationships, and figured out your expenses from part 1 of “IHM’s Road Tips 2: Planning Your First Tour”, we continue with part 2 of IHM’s “Planning Your First Tour” below, in which we discuss using online resources to fund your tour, plan a route, and the touring lifeline that is selling music and merchandise at your live show.

Ideas to Fund Your Tour

Once you know your budget for the tour, you can use crowdsourcing sites like, or to raise funds by offering fans/friends/family incentives to contribute. Make sure you net enough to cover both your tour budget and the costs of obtaining and delivering your incentives. Of course, you’ll need to reach enough people and make them care to contribute, but that’s the point of marketing. So get good at it or find someone to help who is. If you need inspiration, one of the “Most Funded” music projects in Kickstarter history is Amanda Palmer’s 2012 tour and album release where she raised $1,192,793 in about a month. Booyah!

Another great and lesser known strategy is making a difference while raising tour support through our good friend Tom Jackson’s Tour Support program.  He’s helped artists raise millions in tour support while simultaneously raising even more for organizations making real difference in the world, so check out the article here and sign up on the Tour Support inquiry form to get involved.

Plan A Manageable Route…

Start off with examples of tour itineraries that other bands used for tours. A successful itinerary relies on short distances between cities, which saves gas and enables members to stay fresh and prepare for the night ahead. You can also get a copy of “How To Be Your Own Booking Agent: THE Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring” by Jeri Goldstein, a critically acclaimed guide by notable indie artist supporters like Derik Sivers and

Like in school, let Google do your homework. There’s a wealth of excellent touring resources online just a search away!  Check this search out on Google for example: “how to route a music indie artist tour. You can also sign up for our DIY Music secrets newsletter to get even more tips from our IHM Road Tips series.

Maximize Online Resources

Since most indie artists shows do not have a promoter, the artist does the bulk of the promotional work themselves.  The venue looks for artists who can draw and promote, so it’s up to the artist to get the fans in the door. Finding ways to do that effectively both online and offline are essential to your success.  

You should certainly give fans a heads up on upcoming shows 2-3 weeks beforehand, if not more. But you should also follow up a week before, a few days before, and the day of the show.  As an April 2013 survey of 470 venues found, most venues sell 75% of their tickets at the door the day of the show and “over eighty percent described day-of-show marketing and promotion as ‘important’ to driving that attendance.” Since indie artists are responsible for getting fans out to see them, same day promotion is critical to capturing the “undecided” potential fans looking for something to do.   

The internet is an invaluable resource for everything from promoting shows to finding cheap gas. It can help you find the best price on a van and cheap lodging. Social media networks like Twitter and Facebook are the most effective for show promotion and networking. Use tools like,,, etc. to upload and syndicate live shows schedule and recordings. Use sites like, and for outlet to find booking agents, gigs and other help on the road.

Schedule your promotions with social media tools like so you can set up social promotion for each show well in advance. If you have more than 5 social media accounts you need to promote to, get a pro-account (only $10/mo per user at the time of this article) so you can syndicate to all your social properties.

Looking to engage an online community, try using the platform to create a virtual street team of promoters and motivated to spread the word for you. Contact for an exclusive coupon code.

Merchandise, merchandise, merchandise

90-95% of most DIY and indie artist’s revenue comes from live shows. Unless you have a national hit and sells out shows, music and merchandise will be the only way they can make money on a tour. This blog will continue to provide tips about how to maximize this.

Most indie artists will get 100% of their merchandise revenue from live shows, though larger venues like stadiums may receive 10%-30% of merchandise sales. While bigger acts have their own merchandise deals, indie artists can use websites like or stateoftheartists as a merchandise supplier (keep in mind that medium and large t-shirts are the most popular sizes).

A final note on revenue – cash is obviously kind on the road, but artists have also began accepting credit cards through smartphone apps like Square.

So there, you got it all down right? Touring can be an exhilarating experience for an artist when done correctly. With the right networks and mentality in place, each successive tour will begin to feel more like home and drive you closer to success.

Remember to sign up for our DIY Music secrets newsletter to get even more Road Tips on finding success in today’s music industry leveraging your live show.

Have a question, comment or feedback? Tweet us @indiehitmaker #RoadTips or contact us online


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