Booking A Tour

Well, here we go again…both literally and figuratively.

Now, amid booking up another tour across the country, I often get asked how we put it all together.  In May of last year, we booked and performed 64 shows in 31 days to Indiana and back, this past January, 40 shows in 28 days to Florida and back, and a dozen shows in thirteen days to Minnesota and back with an opportunity to see my parents. So how does it all come together? Being relentless!

It starts with carving out the dates and picking the cities we want to play in. Often an entire tour gets booked from a single anchor show opportunity.  The March tour, for example, got scheduled after accepting an offer for a 90th birthday celebration in Rochester Minnesota. The show itself was lucrative, but not enough to fly or drive across the country for just a single show.  After talking with my scheduling and marketing manager (and beautiful wife), Anna, we carved out two weeks with a wonderful opportunity to also see family.  Then, we just needed to pick the cities and drive times.

I do not usually like driving more than four hours between cities, so we check out the maps to decide the best routes and the cities that will fulfill two criteria: distance and opportunity.  Each city must have at least a few opportunities for an evening lounge type show and enough senior (Seasoned) facilities to book a few shows during the day.  With the days filled up with shows, I usually drive as far as I can at night to the next city and find a safe place to park to catch a few hours to sleep.

With the dates and cities selected, Anna now starts generating and printing lead sheets for each city with venues of all kinds.  Each city will have between 20 to 50 venues from senior facilities to theaters to casinos and clubs and I then begin to make calls to each venue, city by city.  By the time the tour is ready to depart, upwards of a thousand calls will have been made with hundreds of emails, texts, and messenger messages.

Our goal is to book at least two shows per day, with some days up to four shows that could start as early as 9 am, finishing as late as midnight.  We speak with activity directors, owners, managers, booking agents, talent scouts, and anyone that can decide or schedule a show.  It can be exhausting calling hour after hour and day after day, but it sure feels good to be able to get out the green marker and highlight one of the venues on the call sheets with a time and price, locking in the new show.

Every call gets logged with the result and any conversation notes, so the next time we talk I will be able to continue an earlier conversation.  Sometimes, I can get personal information within a call like spouse names, favorite kinds of music, birthdays or even vacation details and I write every nugget down in detail!  It’s old school, but it still works being able to ask Mary if her daughter was feeling better because she was ill last week.  It is never a trick – I ask because I really want to know, and Mary feels great that my call is more than a canned sales pitch.

I think people can sense sincerity, and insincerity too, so I never BS or bluster, I simply ask questions and let folks talk about what they want to talk about.  It doesn’t always end in a sale or booking, but it does share honest and happy communication with people who may just need it at that moment. Those conversations also go a long way in getting an unknown performer from Las Vegas a show at 2:00 pm at a Senior facility in Topeka, Kansas or a lounge in San Antonio Texas. Sincerity builds trust.

In the end, if we have all done our job, we will have a streamlined tour filled with great opportunities to meet new people and share some great music in venues and cities both big and small.  Since Anna takes care of all the paperwork, from signage to invoices, reviews to travel itineraries, once I hit the road everything is right there for me from show to show and city to city, and all I have to do is perform.

Do I love being in Las Vegas and performing here?  Absolutely!  It’s a dream come true.  But I also love hitting the road and bringing Las Vegas to cities all over America.  There’ll be a time that I won’t be able to do either but, until then, I will continue to live that dream.  Thanks for being a part of it!

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