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November 21, 2021

Routing a tour – Part 2, The ideal tour

Dustbowl roadOK so you’ve done your homework as we outlined in the last post; Part 1 of Routing a tour. Now it’s time to work on the tour itself. At first this will be quite daunting, so it’s a good idea to break the process down and tackle it in a systematic way. The best way to do this is to construct an Ideal Tour before you approach any promoters or venues.

The routing sheet

To do this, produce a spreadsheet template with columns for date, venue, town and promoter, we will call this The Routing Sheet.

You already know the tour window, but we also want to know the type of touring needed – This will depend on where the band is based and how many days of each week the band want to tour. Here are some typical routing types:

Type of touring

  • Continuous loop touring
    For artists coming in from outside of GB, then each day costs money in terms of fuel, accommodation and time away. In this case it’s best to route the tour in a continuous loop around the country. You will need to provide at least one day off out of every seven. Where a tour bus is being hired this method will also work best.
  • Home loop touring
    Where the artist does much better sales across the weekend, then you can send them out in loops from their home town. Suppose they lived in Birmingham and only wanted to tour from Wednesdays to Saturdays each week, then home loops are the best way to tour.
  • Star touring
    some artists, with their own splitter and driver, like to come home every night. If this is the case, it will be easier to plan the tour, but it is rarely the case that you can do that for the whole country.
  • Combination touring
    Where the artist is based at the extreme end of the country, for example in Cornwall or Scotland, then you may decide on a combination of the above tour types.

Priority cities

Add the most important cities to your routing sheet. This will include at least one major city from each of the SW, Wales, the NW, Scotland, the NE, the Central North, the Midlands, the South and of course London. If the artist’s home town is not a major city then include that as well and place it on the last Saturday. Fill in any gaps with other cities or strong towns.

Priority venues & promoters

Next add your priority venues and promoters to your routing sheet. The planning we discussed in the last post will feed into your choices of venues and promoters as you build your ideal tour.

If the band want to tour Ireland during the same tour, add a week before or after and do the same exercise for Ireland.

Send your ideal tour to the artists manager, ask them for their input – the band may have had good or bad experiences in certain venues that require you to make changes to your ideal tour.

Now you have your Ideal Tour you can start to build your tour for real! We’ll talk about that in the next post – but before we finish, here are two very different ideal tour case-studies…

Ideal Tour CS1Case study 1

Base – Northern Ireland
Tour window – Ten dates across two weekends
Venues – 100 to 200 ish capacity
Tour type – self-drive continuous loop

The band are from Northern Ireland so they can’t go home until the end, so we’re going to book a continuous loop. The tour is quite short, it’s designed to get the maximum exposure in GB in a short amount of time. This is the kind of tour that would work well for the first headline trip into GB. There is probably a release associated with this tour.

Consider entry and exit points, then add key cities to the routing sheet in a loop around the country. We’re going to bring them in from Belfast to Glasgow then head round the country and exit from the NW wales via Holyhead.

This tour is for emerging talent, our priority is getting people through the door so we’re using local promoters where possible.

Ideal tour CS2Case Study 2

Base – Birmingham
Tour window – March
Venues – 200 – 400 capacity
Tour type – Home loops – Wed, Thu, Fri, Sat only

In this ideal tour notice how each week is in a loop which can be easily reached from Birmingham, where the band are based.

The final fee is a big consideration on this tour, so there are a more in-house promotions. Generally you will get better fees where the venues themselves are good promoters. This is because there will be fewer businesses taking money out of the show. Whether an agent uses an outside promoter or goes direct to the venue is a judgement based on the agent’s knowledge of the venues and promoters concerned.

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