With more than 100 UK dates a year plus regular shows all over Europe and America, Dave Arcari is one of the hardest gigging live artists on the circuit. A series of shows with folks including, Alabama 3, Seasick Steve, Toby Keith and Jon Spencer along with his relentless UK and European tour schedule have established Arcari as a formidable international solo performer who is fast building a media reputation as a ‘hell-raising National guitar madman’.
Music Supported Here were lucky enough to ask Dave a few questions about touring and playing live, his answers gave us some advice for new bands who are embarking on a tour for the first time…
1. Please introduce yourself and also tell us what do you do? How long have you been doing it?
I’m Dave Arcari – been a full- time touring musician (solo) and songwriter for the last seven or eight years, although I’ve been playing and making my living from music/music-related stuff for 20-odd years.
2. What would you recommend for new bands to do to prepare for their first ever tour?
One of the most important things is to have a good PR plan in place. Make sure all relevant local, Regional and National newspaper (and magazines) get a news release with gig info, a little background and a really strong photo. Try to set up live sessions and interviews at local radio stations in the areas where you have shows and, of course, don’t forget all the blogs and web-zines too. Don’t rely on social networks like Facebook, but do take advantage of them to help create awareness, while they’re not an answer in their own right, combined with good press/radio, posters and mail outs they can help create a buzz round your shows
3. What expenses do bands need to look at if they are going on a week long tour? What do they need to look out for?
Be careful with your money! It’s amazing how much all these motorway service stops and unplanned meals can add up to. Calculate costs based on mileage rather than just the fuel costs, a week’s heavy driving costs you in tyres, servicing and other often forgotten car expenses that creep up later and bite you in the ass. When planning the tour, make up a spreadsheet with all the gig fees and income (realistic merch sales figures too) and balance it against mileage, other travel costs, accommodation and meals (where the promoter/venue doesn’t provide them) so you can see when the tour breaks even and moves into profit. Always err on the side of caution, if a door split exceeds the guarantee for a show, that’s a welcome extra, but don’t rely on it.
4. Is it worth sending contracts to promoters and venues? In terms of bookings, how important is it to do your research on venues and promoters?
We send contracts out for every show along with posters and promo materials, a sae and a covering letter summarising what’s been agreed in the booking, it helps not only from a financial point of view, but helps make sure there’s no misunderstandings about provision of accommodation, meals, door split, other responsibilities etc. We don’t always get them back, it would be self-defeating to adopt a ‘no contract, no gig’ attitude, but if no contract comes back and you haven’t dealt with the promoter/venue before it’s definitely worth checking out their reputation and credibility.
5. So how important is merchandise? What should new bands consider?
It’s vital! It’s good to have a least one CD/vinyl for sale at shows, t-shirts are even more popular these days (folks can’t download t-shirts!). We also put out free postcards with current gig lists printed on the back. Make sure there’s a clipboard to collect snail mail and email addresses at the merch table too, as your mailing list is one of the most important assets you have.
6. What would you say is the single most important thing a new band must consider when embarking on their first tour?
Be organised, don’t take anything for granted and be realistic. Be professional in your attitude, no-one likes jumped up wanna-be pop stars or primadonnas. Respect the sound and lighting guys, but be firm about how the sound should be and if you send them a stage plot and channel plan in advance you’ll find it’s most appreciated. If you have someone in your tour party (maybe someone who’s helping with merch, driving etc) who knows the band/act’s sound they can work with the house engineer. The sound can make or break you, especially if it’s a new audience!
7. Anything else you would like to add?
Unless you’re very lucky, building an audience takes time and dedication, so don’t expect to be an overnight success. The live show is the catalyst for everything; sales, radio airplay, press coverage (previews and reviews…maybe even features and interviews). The harder you try, the luckier you get.
Thanks Dave, for taking time out for the interview. Some real solid advice there we are sure our readers will find most useful.
Folks, if you do have any questions regarding this interview, leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to address them.
For more on Dave Arcari click here
Music Supported Here