The ABC's of touring for independent music artist by Yung Semaj

The ABC's of touring for independent music artist: 

How to Maximize your time on tour! 

Written by Gabriel Yung Semaj Dunham​


 A. Aquire and maintain relationships 

During my career as an independent music artist I've had the privilege to tour just about the entire United States. That privilege has created many memories and started many great friendships. 

I'll never forget the day I got booked to do a concert event in Louisiana. That was when I met Chuck and Melanie from Louisiana! When my flight touched down in New Orleans my chaperone was Melanie's sweet mother. She was very welcoming, full of kindness and energy! 

I throughly enjoyed our ride from the airport to the restaurant where the other guys in my group were already located. They were picked up earlier by Chuck and Melanie who had an elaborate dinner planned for our arrival! We ate and ate until we couldn't eat anymore! 

During the dinner we learned so much about Chuck, Melanie and the family. We all laughed, told stories and talked about our lives. It was such a memorable experience. 

Not only were we able to bond with Chuck and Melanie at dinner but we also would be staying at their place instead of a hotel. Allowing us even more time to get to know each other. Over the course of the next couple days there was definitely a lasting relationship built with Chuck, Melanie and the group. 

So much of a lasting relationship that Chuck and Melanie brought us back to Louisiana two more times! Not only that, they linked us up with others in their town. This led to more concerts, discount merchandise and even two music videos, which we shot in Louisiana! Those two have been a blessing on countless occasions. 

Connecting with everyone you can is a great idea. So be sure that you connect with the other artist you meet on tour! This is just as important than making time to connect with fans. This has worked out for my benefit on several occasions. KJ-52 gave me advice on how social media would impact indie music artist in the future, that was back in 2008! I've learn so much applicable information from artist I've met on tour and built relationships with. 

These relationships have also led to things like more concerts, great collaboration, getting new fan followings, etc. So be sure to be interactive and communicate with other artist while on tour. 

B. Bring more than your music 

I remember it like it was yesterday. I was standing on the stage with my S.O.A.K brothers! We were in Texas, performing the "White Bandana" song! A song about surrendering to God! 

When we hopped of the stage and took our places at the V.I.P table it was like the crowd rushed us all of a sudden! They were lining up to buy our album. But that's not all they got, they also purchased: CDs, t-shirts, stickers, light up mouthpieces, posters, flyers, hats, and most of all... WHITE BANDANAS!!! 

Judah Man was always on point with our merchandise! We always had so much more than music to offer. We were a brand, we sold the light up mouthpiece because it was part of our performance! We sold white bandanas because we performed that song on stage! CDs were probably the least thing we sold that night in Yoakum, Texas! 

It's not all out the money either. When you are touring their is the opportunity to leave your fingerprint on a town or city! As an indie music artist you should make sure you have merchandise that represents you so that your fans will be able to help support you and your message! Whenever they are out and about in their local town, they may be wearing your logo on a t-shirt, they may have one of your stickers on their cars or school notebooks. If your fans love your music and your stage performance they will love to help promote your music! 

C. Capture A LOT of media 

Before the days of Instagram, Periscope, Facebook Live and snapchat me and my guys were on MySpace! My music career was born at time Myspace was the popular social media craze. We were the best at utilizing MySpace as a platform to get our music out! 

It was practically the model we see today in the music industry, especially for independent music artist. Now things have just become faster and more innovative but the same model still works if your know how to work it. Engaged with your audience via social media. 

When you're on tour you need to capture pictures and videos so that your supports and fans can stay engaged. Instead of having to wait to upload videos to YouTube to post them in MySpace bulletins you can now go live on Facebook or use other social media apps and websites like Periscope, Meerkat and Ustream. 

You can also post pictures and videos to your Instagram. In my research Instagram has the most engages, meaning people like and/or share your pics and videos more! They comment more and interact more on IG than any other sites. Having something to post that shows you are really serious about your music career is important, that's why you need to capture what you can. 

A lot of times I found it to be a good idea to have someone working the camera when you go on tour. Have someone designated to get good pictures and video footage of you on stage and interacting with fans. As an indie music artist you probably want to be in charge of your social media accounts so if you have someone who is capturing media make sure they send it to you or you approve the post! Just so you know it represents your message and brand. 

In conclusion be sure to utilize all these tips. Some may work better for you than others but it's very important to remember these tips when you're on tour so that you can maximize your time and efforts. Touring can be a great way to make a lot of money in the music business. It is always a good way to build relationships and have fun with the music you've created.

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