The end of the year is nearly here, making it the perfect time for you musicians to get your ducks in a row regarding your shows — and one super-smart place to start is by resolving to carefully track your tour history. Time and time again in our SpokesBUZZ Incubator sessions, we hear music industry experts reiterate how important it is for bands to be collecting information about every show you play. With a new year on the horizon, it’s time to sort things out.
Why Get Organized?
For one thing, knowledge is power in any business — having accurate data about your band’s show history can help you make informed decisions about venues, markets, merchandise, touring and budgeting. But just as importantly, having organized quantitative information about your shows can help you land better gigs and build good working relationships with industry professionals. And it’s always nice to have a solid reference to back up your confidence: knowing what’s up when it comes to your band’s ability to bring fans to a show makes a huge difference in being able to get your foot in the door and makes it much easier to talk to strangers.
Prepare to Compare
There are plenty of opinions about what information matters, and ultimately, it’s a strategic decision for your band to make. But you should make sure you are collecting the same type of information for every show, and keep it in one place. Spreadsheets are nice because they do math for you and are somewhat less likely to get beer spilled on them than a notebook you carry around in your back pocket, but whatever’s clever.
Our friend and industry mentor Ira Sweetwine from Sweetwine Entertainment Group was kind enough to send us a tour history spreadsheet template to share with you to get you started. This covers some of the more important basics, like the deal you made with the venue, ticket sales (pre-sale and day-of-show), artist earnings, merchandise and the like … but it also has a field for show notes. This is a great place to collect some of the qualitative information like: who were the other bands on the bill? Was there a huge snowstorm on the day of the show that might have affected attendance (or better yet, didn’t affect it at all?) Were the Broncos in the playoffs? If you think it’s something worth noting: note it! Adjust the sheet as needed and make it work for you; obviously, this is just one resource — there are certainly more samples out there. Take a little time as a band to think about what will work best for you and your goals.
Stick To It and Stay On Track
The most important step you can take in gathering tour history information? Consistency. Get started and stick with it. Make it your habit to collect a settlement sheet from the venue the night of the show, and make sure one of the band members is responsible for documenting the data afterward. When you’ve started to amass some tour history, you’ll be able to do a little analysis as a band, and you’ll have some selling points for booking and other business conversations going forward. Don’t be scared — a little organization goes a long way, and this might just be the year that it makes a significant difference in your success!
We’d love to hear from you if you have questions or suggestions — feel free to comment below. Happy New Year and Happy Tracking!