I don't know about you, but for me, there is nothing better than seeing one of my favorite bands live; it can be an experience unlike any other. However, something a lot of people don't know is just exactly what it takes for independent bands to book tours. As I learned from talking to Zach Weinberg, a Sophomore at DePaul and member of the band Cloud Mouth, its not an easy task.
When you look at the big bands out there today in the mainstream (go ahead...pick anyone) it seems like they are always playing shows, making money and having fun. And for the most part, they are. But these big bands have managers and PR companies to book their tours, alert their fans and just plain do everything. When you're in an unsigned, DIY band, however, the process is very tedious and time consuming but according to Weinberg, "So worth while."
Ok- so you get that it's hard to do...so how do they do it?
A lot of independent bands go through a DIY network that Weinberg describes kind of like "the underground railroad for independent bands." This network is filled with independent bands who are willing to welcome bands to play their houses, apartments, basements or small venues based on principle.
What principle, you ask? Well, most bands in the DIY scene have a similar moral and ethical stance that music is a positive thing for everyone. They want to allow bands to get their music out there and in return swap shows so they can do the same. Finding these people can be hard, but now with the internet so redily availible, things have become much easier than back in the day where zines (independently run magazines or literature) were the only way to find other people with the same ideals and hopefully an empty basement.
Trust me though, bands who run in this circle are not making much money, if any at all.
"Playing in houses and basements you have to rely on the kids to make donations and by merch but the problem is that you are playing to kids who, by their very nature, don't have a lot of money to spend," Weinberg said.
Making fifty to one hundred dollars a night is call for a celebration and is very uncommon. The aim of bands who book tours DIY is really just to make it to the next city, hopefully get something to eat and a place to sleep. It may seem rough, but Weinberg says that there is nothing better than getting in a van with five or six of his best friends, traveling the country and meeting some of the coolest people.
It's all about the connections.