Jeff (Ma Jolie)
SPB: What’s the secret to a successful tour?
Jeff: It all depends on your intentions with touring in general. If it's your career/job/profession, a lot of factors are involved with making a successful tour. Yes, full-time musicians need to make money in order to pay their bills, live in a home/apartment, and maybe even have to be able to support their family. I can only really give advice with Ma Jolie being a part-time touring band.
All of us have extensive jobs at home. The biggest thing is not trying to lose money. If we come home breaking even, I'm happy. If we come home with a little bit of extra money, we're also happy. The secret to a solid tour is just being in constant, open communication with the promoters/venues. Find promoters that you trust and know will do the best they can. Make it clear what you are looking for in terms of the ticket prices for the shows, knowing what the expenses for the venue [are] so you know what you might potentially make from the door. Route your tour so that the drives are not too crazy long, especially for smaller bands. Get involved and find good local bands in the area that you want to play with. PROMOTE YOUR TOUR! Do what you can. Make posters and send to the venues, hype it up on social media, try to get people in these cities to help promote for you in their town. Be active and do all that you can. If everyone helps out (promoter, bands, labels, etc.) then it means promotion is coming from all angles and it could help make your shows better. You have no control as to who shows up but you do have control on how much effort you put into spreading the word. There are a million reasons why people can't come to your show (especially in the summers).
Also, visit the actual cities you are in. Don't just go right to the venue and sit around. You aren't experiencing anything that you should be. Get off the internet on your phone and go to the local parks, beaches, libraries. I know money can be tight on tour but sightseeing, for the most part, is a FREE thing to do.