For gig-goers, festival heads, and all live music fiends, I’m sure you’ve experienced this before. A band you froth over has announced a tour. You fiendishly squint through the tour dates on the poster attached to the accompanying press release. Thoughts of stage diving, circle pitting, and partying to the tunes you love come up, only to be bitterly let down – your city isn’t on the tour schedule. Why don’t bands come to my city?
Smaller town population, lack of necessary facilities, travel distance and time spent are always going to be reasons a band will avoid a town. But the causes can also go beyond the realm of finances and business opportunities. The tour schedule isn’t always a one-size-fits-all for bands.
It can be frustrating, annoying, saddening, and sometimes plain insulting. You may feel like you, your friends, and your city is on the loser’s list of avoidable places for live music. You feel like you demand answers. So why exactly do bands I so desperately want to see not play my city? Is there anything I can do to change their minds?
Why Don’t Bands Come To My City? Your City is Too Small
When bands announce a tour, you can only fill in so many dates. Bands would love to play 365 days a year, but more often than not, this isn’t reality. The band is available for a certain amount of dates. They need to fill those with cities that will produce the best gigs for earnings potential. It is basic economics.
Bands will also try and leverage the predominantly larger turnouts weekend shows produce for dates in major cities. Bands leave weekday shows for more so the second-tier cities with smaller venues and smaller audiences. This decision coincides with the fact that generally, gig turnouts usually are less during the week.
Sadly your city might not be the kind of place that can facilitate a large enough audience.
Your City Isn’t Close Enough to the Tour Route.
If you were to map out a tour schedule from the flow of dates in order, you’d more than likely see a clear path. This path minimizes van time and maximizes time relaxing or partying. Understand that you might live far away from other destination cities.
Being stuck in the “far away city” trap may not always be the case. You could find yourself in a situation where your out-of-the-way towns can piggyback off the coattails off of some larger neighboring cities.
A band may want to travel to a particular out-of-the-way larger city to play a big show on a Saturday night. In doing that, they may also fill a Sunday afternoon show in a smaller neighboring town.
Bands can do this while passing through on their journey back home. They do this because they’ve made it there in the first place. Bands may not be back again any time soon, making it great news for you!
Your City Doesn’t Have A Suitable Venue
If your city doesn’t have a welcoming venue, this will deter bands from visiting. A welcoming venue doesn’t always have to be over-the-top. They can be anything from a small bar, a record store, or even a living room. Bands are already busy enough with all the planning, organizing, and gigging.
If there isn’t a venue in your town willing to take care of things on their end, a touring band will avoid your town. Good venus help with things like equipment, sound engineers, and door people.
If your town doesn’t have a venue large enough for a larger band, say goodbye to them visiting your town. I’m not sure when the last time Iron Maiden played in someone’s basement, but I’m sure it wasn’t any time recently.
Your City Doesn’t Have A Large Local Scene
Does your town have much live music outside of touring bands? Are there local bands out there putting your village on the map? No? Then touring bands aren’t visiting your town because they don’t realize anybody living there would be interested in seeing bands play!
Nobody Showed To Their Last Show
They came once, the support bands were terrible, the show didn’t organize, the band didn’t get paid, and you and your friends didn’t bother showing up because there was something good on TV.
Then one of the band members got food poisoning from a dodgy truck stop hot dog on the way out of town. Would you bother coming back to a place like that? Bad experiences can ruin many things.
How Do I Convince Bands to Play in my City?
Get your local scene happening and put your town on the map yourself!
If your city isn’t a destination point for touring bands, make it one! Believe it or not, bands want more places to play. They don’t like avoiding towns, and if it were up to them, they would play everywhere and anywhere. Unfortunately, as my previous points noted, this isn’t always possible.
But if you want bands to visit your town, be the change you want to see.
What You Can Do To Get Bands To Come To Your City
1. Nurture The Local Scene
Start nurturing a local scene. Organize shows in your town and promote them yourself to get everybody involved and excited about them. If you can get the members of your city excited about live music, and start consistently having well-attended gigs, touring bands WILL come to experience that for themself. It’s that simple.
2. Support Local Music
Please support the bands in your town, encourage them to play and put themselves out there, and let the world know that there is a scene happening in your small town. These are the people who are promoting your city and letting the world know you all exist. If your town doesn’t have enough bands within it, start one!
3. Support Local Venues
Support the venues in your town that are willing to put bands on and ensure they stay alive to keep doing so. Remember, when bands do visit, these are the places they will be relying on to exist to make that happen!
If your town doesn’t have a reliable venue option, make one! You only need four walls, a roof, some speakers, and assurance the police won’t come shut you down, and sometimes you don’t even need that!
4. Invite Young Bands
Invite the bands you want to see yourself! I’m not saying go slide into Metallica’s Facebook DM’s with an offer to play your local dive bar. Contact up-and-coming bands who you believe you’ll be able to accommodate a fun show for with the means you have available to you.
Make sure you know there is a local demand amongst your friends. Also, know the kind of people around your local scene that is worth the contact. Decision-makers, venue owners, and sound engineers are a few examples.
You’d be shocked how many young bands would be more than happy to visit your town if someone was willing to organize a show for them. Just ensure they have some gas money and a place to crash!
5. Take Care of Your Bands
Look after the bands who visit! Make sure people put in the extra effort to attend a show if they know the headline band is coming out of town. Buy their merch at the end of the night and thank them for coming and visiting. Basic hospitality rules apply.
This effort is the best way to ensure bands not only return, but word gets around that your town is worth visiting. I hope this answered some questions, knocked out a few truths, and gave you some help in turning your city from a touring band’s hard pass to a hard yes.