1. Don’t guilt trip audiences into paying for your show or buying your CD because “you need to put gas in your gas tank.” You are not a charity, music is not a charity. If it’s good, people will want to buy it because it’s good. They did not force you to go on this tour. It isn’t their fault if you’re not making a lot of money on the tour. (It might not be your fault, either, but it is NOT their fault.) People shouldn’t buy music out of pity. People will throw money at you for your CD after a show if you’ve nailed it. So nail it!
2. Which is the most important point of all: NAIL YOUR SHOW. Come rehearsed. Be captivating. Pretend you’re the audience member and what you see and hear on stage is something you want to take a precious night off for, pay the babysitter for, pay hard-earned money for. Mediocre is not good enough. Respect your audience.
3. Know your audience. An audience at a house concert is different than an audience at a rock club which is different than a festival which is different than a corporate gig. Crass language and non-P.C. jokes are part of some people’s schtick and personality, but is super offensive to some audiences. If that’s your thing either tone it down or don’t book that gig. Same goes for if you’re super neat and tidy, earnest and clean cut, and you’re trying to win over a Fred Eaglesmith or rowdy bar audience. Probably won’t work. Adapt or don’t play there.
4. Have a reliable touring vehicle. Have a back up plan if the vehicle turns out not to be so reliable.
5. Make a tour booklet with phone numbers and the addresses and contact names of venues, EVEN IF YOU HAVE A SMARTPHONE. There is not cell phone coverage everywhere. Or you forgot to charge it, or or or. Same with maps, as in real, physical ones.
6. If the tour is more than 2 weeks long, plan a day off or 2 per week. Your band will love you. You will all have a higher chance or remaining human, AND you can do your laundry.
7. Have an email sign up list at each show by your merch table where new fans can sign up, so that when you tour there again you can contact them and they’ll hopefully come out and bring some more people along. Send newsletters out occasionally with updates and new material to keep in touch with them between tours.