We asked experienced musician and frequent tourer Peter Marshall to give us an insight into what artists and bands need to consider before going on tour. Now playing with Paul Heaton of the Housemartins, Peter offers his advice and knowledge to Music Supported Here.
1. Please introduce yourself and also tell us what do you do? How long have you been doing it?
I’m Pete Marshall. I play the drums, mandolin and violin for artists mainly in and around Manchester. I’ve been playing since I was a child, but probably only got more serious in my late teens when I started playing drums in local bands. Before this I learnt piano and violin at school, played in bands and orchestras at school and played in a youth orchestra out of school. I played in my own unsigned band for 7 years, we released a single, had a good local following but didn’t really get anywhere.
I then started playing for Liam Frost, we signed a deal in 2006, had 2 albums out, toured with various bands, did festivals and did a few solo tours. From here I went on to work with other Manchester artists, Stephen Fretwell, The Courteeners, Karima Francis etc.
For the last 3 years I’ve been with Paul Heaton of the Housemartins and Beautiful South, touring and recording.
2. What would you recommend for new bands looking to book their first ever tour?
You need to be musically prepared, a lot counts on people’s first impression. Every person you play to could potentially be a new fan.
Try and have a purpose for the tour – promoting a single, ep or album, don’t waste an opportunity for promotion and to make money -even if its only to cover costs!
Try and prepare merchandise, in these hard financial times and with the industry in the state of flux its in at the moment you can waste an opportunity to make money.
Also make sure you have all the equipment you need and your gear is in a good serviced condition. You’re going to test it to the max if you’re touring back to back, so you need to do everything you can to prevent it breaking and letting you down. Take breakable spares (sticks, strings, skins, leads, etc..) and try and take a spare amp or laptop/sampler if you use them just in case.
Also away from the music, try and get some press to support the tour – any tv, radio, magazine articles or online reviews.
Advertise the tour through your fan base, via your website and social networking sites. Make posts and put them up wherever you can.
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?
You will need to rehearse, so there are rehearsal room costs unless you have a free space to use.
As I’ve mentioned, you need your gear to be in a good state of repair and you may need to buy strings, sticks etc.
You need to eat, especially if you’re partying hard!!! You can’t afford to cancel shows as someone in the team is ill.
You need to sleep – if you can stay at friends/fans houses on the way to save money, if not you might need to pay for B & B or hotels.
Transport – van hire, or if you own one you still need to pay for fuel, parking and toll roads. You will need phone credit, you need to be contactable in case there are any problems, or if anyone goes missing after a drink after the gig – somebody normally doesn’t wake up where they should and you don’t want to leave without someone.
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?
I think it depend how your tour was booked. The tours I’ve done have mainly been organised by reputable promoters and agents. If you’re booking the our yourself liaising directly with the venues themselves a contract would be good. You don’t want the expense of traveling all the way to a gig only to find out they are trying to claim they’ve never heard of you and don’t know anything about your gig.
Also, do everything you can do to advertise and promote the tour yourself via your website and social networking sites, make sure you tell people, but if a promoter is getting a cut of the door for promoting, make sure they promote. I remember turning up at a venue once and the promoter was putting up the posters he’d had for 3 months on the day of the show and moaning about ticket sales. I should also add he charged us for the posters!
5. So how important is merchandise? What should new bands consider?
Merchandise is very important, its a good source of advertising and a great way to make money. There are many bands who have established themselves with a great t-shirt design or great piece of merchandise. Some bands sell more merch than music. Try and make a t-shirt that you would wear yourself and think of new ways to make great merch, try and do things other bands don’t do, its a great way to get a following.
6. What would you say is the single most important thing a new band must consider when embarking on their first tour?
I don’t think there is one single important thing. You need to consider all the factors I’ve mentioned really.
Play well, be nice to people on the way up and give each other a bit of space. It can be quite stressful spending 24 hours a day 7 days a week with each other. You need to keep everyone getting along as well as possible.
Thanks Peter, for taking time out for the interview. Some really good advice there we are sure our readers will find most useful.
If you do have any questions regarding this interview, do not hesitate to leave us a comment below and we’ll do our best to address them.
For more on Peter Marshall click here
Music Supported Here
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