Amanda Palmer completed her famous Kickstarter crowdfunding campaign with nearly $1.2 million. Shortly thereafter, she headed out on tour.
Here’s what she did right: she recruited local musicians to perform with her at each stop on the tour.
Here’s what went wrong: she didn’t pay those musicians. As result, she received a lot of negative press, and fans thought she should have been paying the musicians out of her immensely successful crowdfunding campaign fund, which far and exceeded her original funding goals.
Of course, as long as you avoid negative press and come to a reasonable agreement with musicians beforehand, this can be an interesting way of working with other musicians while you are on tour. Every night, the sound could be just a little different.
Regardless, there are times when you need to call upon the help of other musicians.
Maybe you need a guitarist to fill in for a show or two, or maybe you need a semi-permanent band member to fulfill a full tour with you.
Here are several tips for finding musicians to support you on tour.
Build Relationships Locally
You could go on tour alone, or you could go with another band you know.
There are several advantages to this. For one, you can share gear. Your drummers will probably cringe at the thought, but hey, you don’t want them brining their massive 20-piece kits on tour anyway.
Another advantage is that you can share in the duties. Maybe your bass player can’t stay on for the whole tour, but the bass player in the other band is more than willing to fill in for him.
Touring with another band will require some planning. You’ll want to figure out how you can set out on the road without adding too many vehicles to the equation (one is ideal; two at most).
Make sure to build relationships on a local level. You never know who might be willing to go on the road with you, and if there is enough redundancy between the two bands, you shouldn’t come across a situation where you’re desperately in need of another musician at the last minute.
Reach Out On Social Media
What good is your social following if you can’t call on them when you need some band members to play with you?
Okay, I was somewhat facetious in saying that, but there could be some people following you that would jump at the opportunity to help you out.
Of course, you’re probably going to want to put a structure in place for screening musicians. You don’t want to end up working with someone who can’t hold down a beat.
However, you might be surprised by the talent that’s out there. Since you aren’t necessarily going to be engaged in a long-term relationship, you don’t have to think as much about finding that “perfect fit.” If you can keep your fans happy, that’s what matters most.
Visit Local Instrument Stores
Instrument stores often prove to be invaluable resources for musicians. Not just because they sell the gear you need, but also because they tend to have a lot of connections inside and outside of the music industry.
I’ve gotten many gigs by connecting with the staff at instrument stores, and I’ve met a lot of talented musicians too (oftentimes because there are music teachers working at these stores – they tend to be good players in their own right).
If nothing else, the staff probably knows a thing or two about the local acts, and who might be interested in working with you.
Although stopping in at local music stores as you’re touring might seem like a last-minute solution, it tends to be one of the best places to look, as sometimes even the salespeople are involved in music, and may be able to fill in for a show or two if need be. It’s one of the best options you have in a pinch.
Likewise, studios or rehearsal rooms can also be good places to find musicians. They’re likely to be connected with people that might be able to help you. If you know you’re going to need musicians to support you on tour, remember to make a list of relevant studios, rehearsal spaces, instrument stores, records stores, and so on.
Take Advantage Of Music Classifieds
Don’t forget; you can also use these sites to find people who are looking to play in bands too. It may take a little digging, but it’s not a bad way of cherry picking the best talent.
Also look into local entertainment magazines. Some of them will let you post an ad without any payment. They won’t necessarily be high visibility ads, but it’s fairly likely that there are those scanning them on a weekly basis looking for opportunities.
Make sure to leave plenty of time between you and your tour if you’re planning on finding musicians this way. Finding and selecting the right members can take time. This isn’t to say that you can’t post ads at the last minute if you have to, but it’s better to have a little bit of margin to work with.
The basics of finding musicians to support you on tour are more or less the same as finding band members in general. You need to look for people who can hold a beat, sing in pitch, play the right notes, and also get along with you.
Of course, there are times when you need someone to fill in at the last minute. Some of the methods outlined above can save you in a pinch.
Don’t leave home without a backup plan. Nothing is worse than not being able to fulfill tour date commitments because someone backed out, got sick, or got called home because of an emergency. Build connections everywhere you go, because you just never know who might be able to help you in the future.