Booking Agents Reveal Tour Strategies that Work


Chris Fletcher, CEO, Tour Coordinator
Coast to Coast:
Case Study Act: We Are The Big Bang, (

Coast to Coast Music specializes in planning, organizing and booking tours in the college and festival markets. Chris Fletcher is a music industry veteran with over 30 years of experience with indie labels, management, PR, promotions and tour planning. She teaches “Getting Gigs” and “The Touring Musician” at the Musicians Institute in Hollywood, CA, and co-founded The Cool School, which presents lectures, seminars and workshops at affordable prices.

How is your company different from a typical booking agency?
We’re a boutique operation that encompasses more than simply booking tours. We like working with new and upcoming talent. We educate and develop them so that they can enjoy financial and musical success. It can take some time, but we have a passion for music and try to keep our roster small enough so that all of our acts get the attention they deserve.

Where should an act tour?
They should initially focus on where a demand is—if there is any. If there’s little or no demand, they should start by doing small regional tours around their home base and expand from there. In fact, the college market is a regional market. Most importantly, though, artists should plan to return to the places where they were most successful––every two to three months––or their fans will forget them.

What can artists expect to make on the road?
First of all, touring [for an up-and-coming band] is a promotional activity. Artists tour to expose their music and live performances to new fans. With that said, it can take a while––a year or two––before they start to make real money. You have to be established [in a market] to command large fees. Even so, I won’t book a tour unless it at least breaks even. It makes no sense to go on the road and lose money. That’s why you should always book an “anchor” gig first––one that will cover most of your expenses––and plan a route around it.

How can you predict expenses?
Travel, food and lodging have to be taken into account. Artists should also consider tour insurance for their gear. Vans are usually $75 to $100 a day, gas can be determined with online fuel calculators and with a little bit of research you can find discounts for lodging and food coupons.

What kind of money can an act make on the college circuit?
They can make anywhere from $200 to over $1,000 per show. California has the lowest fees due to the competition with labels that offer their acts for free. If an act wants to make a living just playing music, they would have to tour six to nine months and do 150 to 200 shows.

What are the advantages of the college market?
Not only do they pay well, they also treat artists nice. Many colleges offer lodging and all of them will feed the acts. Besides, it’s a great demographic of potential fans.

What is your case study act?
We Are The Big Bang… When I met them they were playing local gigs. I set up a showcase at NACA (National Association for Campus Activities) for them, which put them before hundreds of college talent buyers. I then booked street fairs, festivals, wineries and college gigs. We started small and built a buzz.

Were there any challenges in developing your case study act?
Yes… There are six people in the group. That is a lot to put on the road, much more than I usually like. So, we tried several configurations and slowly built a strong enough presence to support so many people. Now, after a couple of years, it’s doable.

How is booking for festivals different?
You have to book them long in advance––often a year. Festivals also like acts that have played events, like street fairs and other festivals. To play the large ones you have to start small and work your way up. For California artists interested in developing that market, there’s a great site: Just click on “events” and a huge list will appear. Other states also have similar sites.

What would turn you off about an act?
Artists that don’t follow up when I need them to will upset me. That’s just rude and disrespectful. Even worse, acts that do a bad show will reflect negatively on me. You have to understand that my reputation is important too. If I can’t maintain my integrity, with professional acts, it could make it difficult for me to book anyone.

Be sure to see MC’s updated 2015 Directory of Booking Agents.

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