Every tour is different…
And there’s a whole bunch of things to consider before the agent starts approaching promoters.
Let’s consider them in turn:
More often than not, tours are timed so they promote an album release. There are different approaches to how an album is released, but generally speaking, once an album has been released a live band will tour the album to promote it. This means that tours are frequently planned to start at some point after the release has happened. Of course, there is a lag time between when a tour is booked and when it happens. Managers will need to plan the timeline so the release date lands in time for the tour. Promoters will want to know about this.
Album releases usually require paid PR to promote them, but will there be PR for the tour dates as well? Or will live PR be paid for by the promoters from show costs. This is important information for promoters when they are deciding whether to book the tour or not.
It is usually helpful for the tour to have a name, this means that all parties become part of a project which helps to instill collective goodwill. Typical tour names are based on the album they are promoting or an anniversary of the band or an album they released in the past.
The agent will be selling a “show” to the promoter, so they need to know what they are getting, solo, duo, full bad, brass section, etc. The line-up could make a big difference to the show costs and what the promoter will pay for the show. Riders need to reflect the line-up
We send riders to promoters at the time of confirmation. In the confirmation, we advise that these riders may change between now and the tour. We send them to provide guidance to the promoter for their costings. Agents should check with their artists that the riders are up-to-date and are not expected to change unduly before the tour. Riders need to be dated so if they do change, it’s easy to discern which are the latest ones.
It’s better to tour at certain times of the year. Generally speaking, headline tours are better when they take place in October, November, February, March, or April. May can also work. Avoid late December, early January, and early September. Also, avoid the summer months altogether, which should be used for festivals. Acts that come in from overseas for festivals will want filler dates between festival weekends – this is not always possible, so expectations will need to be managed here. It’s really important that all musicians block the dates in their diary. This is vital so the agent doesn’t waste time booking dates that could never happen. The band needs to commit!
As part of the artist’s plot, it’s a good idea to decide when the tour will be announced. It’s always easier if the agent has a decent chunk of time between when they start work on the tour and the announcement date. A couple of months is ideal.
Set yourself a minimum guarantee for the fee per show, if you have to go lower to get the tour tied up, make sure that some of the other fees are higher so the average hits or exceeds your minimum. All shows should have a split in the back-end but don’t rely on them to pay out, especially when dealing with external promoters and where show costs are high.
Ticket prices should be uniform across the tour, it’s the agent’s role to set these. London tends to be a few pounds higher than the rest of the tour. Also, Northern Ireland ticket prices tend to be similar to the London price. In The Republic of Ireland, tickets are usually higher after currency conversion. NB Booking fees are usually added to the price in the UK but included in the price in IE.
National advertising contribution
Promoters may be asked to contribute to a national advertising campaign, if so, who will manage and administer it? Most promoters will be happy to be part of a national advertising campaign since it should prove value for money. However, they will need to know about it before they make an offer since it will be a cost to the show. Whoever is managing the campaign will need to be relied upon to produce an advertising schedule, invoice the contributors, and feedback on how the money was spent.
As a general rule, we avoid dealing with accommodation, however, there are exceptions – so get clear before you start booking if you are going to have to source accommodation from promoters. It’s not usually a productive use of an agent’s time to deal with accommodation, the time is better spent booking shows!
With management, decide if the tour goes to Ireland in the agreed tour window. It can help to route Ireland a week before GB or a week after GB. This way if you’re finding it hard to make it work financially, it’s easy to abort those plans. Where the artist lives in Ireland, you can leave more time between GB & Ireland tho you would usually book the Irish run in the same season.
For some artists, it will be important that there is a hometown show on the tour. The band will often want to finish the tour in their hometown, so book it first and lock it in.
It’s really important that the agent does their homework here. Study any data regarding sales, ticket price, fees and who were the promoters last time. If the agent has changed since the last tour and the data is not easily available, then try to source it from the band’s manager. You don’t want to return to a town on a lower guaranteed fee! If it’s the first time the band has toured as a headline, find out where they have played before as support acts and factor that into your decisions on where to play and who will promote.