Though the music industry remains in flux with drastic shifts in distribution and an overflowing market thanks to increased access to tools of production, one thing has become clear: live performance is a primary profit engine for professional musicians. But you can only play so much in your local market and when you are thinking of touring you are faced with the chicken-and-egg dilemma (which comes first?): you can't tour without fans,and you can't make fans without touring. Here is an idea for gradually increasing your touring base. Create a local fan base by playing somewhere regularly. It could be weekly or every other month. That probably depends on the size of your city (the population not the height of the buildings), how much other activity is competing with you, the demand for your particular music, etc. Create a community and following with your local regular gig; reasons for people to come back every time and to tell other people about your regular gig. Once you get momentum there, look at a map and draw a circle that includes all the other towns and cities that are drivable within a few hours of your town. Identify a town that would be ripe for another regular gig; maybe every other month. Find the right venue; one that already has a following similar to your band's following, or possibly one that is totally different but for which you could create a new local scene. Tell the two scenes about each other. Fans may have friends in your new sister city. Once that bi-monthly gig is going get another on going in another town in a different direction from your home base. Once that's going, draw another wider circle on your map, encompassing towns that are a little further away from home. In the further cities, maybe you only play there a few times a year. Keep those email lists growing and make sure to categorize fans by their location, so you can target local fans every time you come back to the city. In some cases, as you continue to widen your concentric circles it might be a year between concerts in a given city. Eventually, if you can widen these touring circles further you will be able to align enough cities to have a full-fledged tour reaching to cities that were too far before, but are now within reach of the concert last night. You'll also be building a fan base all along and a touring record that a future booking agent can look at as evidence of your potential on their roster and your potential in other regions/cities. Sure, everyone wants to have a national tour... but this Big Idea could be a way you can get things started on your own as an investment in your musical career.
Has your "world music" act done this? Share your battle stories by submitting a comment with the link below.