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Regional Touring Case Studies

Dallas Frasca

Melbourne based artist, Dallas Frasca chats to Music Victoira about her experience touring regional areas. On their most recent tour, Dallas Frasca visited a number of Victorian towns including:

Common Ground Fest, Seymour
The Loft, Warnambool
The Caledonian Hotel, Wonthaggi 
Sooki Lounge, Belgrave
Baha's, Rye
Northcote Social Club, Melbourne

Why do you think regional touring is important to your band/act?
I am originally from Wangaratta and understand the importance of offering different forms of artistic expression into more remote areas. There wasn’t enough touring acts coming through my hometown when I was younger but the ones that did, left a lasting mark and had a huge influence on me. I know that people still talk about those times fondly. I learnt from so many things from watching those bands which I have always carried with me.

People can be very loyal in regional areas and follow the band around to closer cities when the band tours by so it’s great for audience building, plus people buy merch!

Touring regional areas also offers up-and-coming bands a chance to watch a more established act and learn from them and have the chance to perform in front of an audience and learn professionalism, stagecraft, etc. It also offers something different in terms of entertainment for the town and music makes the world go 'round!

How did you market and promote your regional shows?
Marketing and promotion is a team effort for the band, however, the most used powerful marketing and promotion tool we use is Facebook (event invites). The band also hires a publicist for tours who will target local champions/newspapers, community radio, street teams and organise posters.

The band works together with each venue and its local media contacts to make sure they are pushing the show from their end and using their resources and contacts as well. The right support acts are also very important. We only work with bands who are actively helping promote their own shows. We always do our research on this.

How did you find suitable venues for your regional shows?
Years of trial and error. I think there are good relationships and connections within regional areas that our band has built over the years of returning to those areas, plus building small support teams in those areas. A huge influence on whether we decide what town to tour to is the confidence we have in people actually coming to the shows. We don’t often return to areas that don’t have the support network.

If there is a band getting some hype in a regional town, it can be worth teaming up with them to audience build for your band.

Why do you think regional touring is important for the music industry?
It offers a pathway for up-and-coming bands in regional areas to see established acts and be inspired. It brings punters to venues that in turn keep paying the bills for publicans trying to support live music. The more we work together, the more thriving live scene we have! Just because it’s regional, doesn’t mean people don’t love supporting music! Often they are starving for it.

Did you have any challenges touring regional Victoria and if so, how did you overcome them?

  • Transportation options for audiences at regional shows is an issue – we often organise courtesy buses with some venues so people have options.
  • In areas that we haven’t done well, we generally don’t go back (we can’t afford to lose money on shows).
  • A lack of good, local promotional networks can be a barrier. We get creative with how we promote a gig.
  • The lack of experience with venue owners can be really time consuming when trying to promote a show the way you are used to. Helping guide a shows success can involve many conversations of persuasion, plus educating at the same time. We try to be patient and understand the overall outcome is better for up-and-coming bands in the long run.
  • Taking a risk in a town you haven’t been to before and not knowing how involved the promoter is in pushing the shows; we won’t take those risks anymore.
  • Guarantees can usually be a confident way to walk into a town you haven’t played before, but more often than not, many venues don’t offer them. So not wanting to lose money, we would always opt for a lesser financial risk which may mean not visiting that town.

What are the best outcome/s or opportunities for your act having toured regional Victoria?

  • Constant, repeated regional touring has built loyal audiences – prolonged hard work.
  • We’ve seen local regional bands go on to be inspired to have success.
  • We have always researched local support bands as soon as the show is locked in to support them and the show.  They will also help talk about the show (possibly put up posters and share backline which saves on tour costs/make the show more efficient).
  • Guarantees versus a door deal are always encouraging in a town you haven’t been to before.
  • 100’s of return punters to our shows in some small towns. This is due to the fact we have established connections and nurtured relationships in those areas over the years.
  • It can encourage you to think outside of the box when it comes to promoting shows as regional towns work differently to the main stream way of promoting shows in the cities. We work in a creative business!
  • Having good relationships with venues has led us to be on local festival line-ups, etc.
  • We have observed that there are a few things which can make a show successful: knowing a crew in the town that will spread the word, plus a publican that will really promote your show: WORD OF MOUTH!

 

Freya Hollick

Ballarat based artist, Freya Hollick, chats to Music Victoira about her experience touring regional areas.

Briefly explain your regional tour
I’ve engaged in regional touring extensively over many years, but in the past 12 months we played a number of shows and festivals across Victoria. Mostly 18+ shows but festivals provided good opportunities for underage crowds to see a variety of bands. We have played Kyneton, Castlemaine, Ballarat, Grampians, Geelong and Harrietville in recent times in Victoria.

Why do you think regional touring is important to your band/act?
It helps us to extend our network to a much broader community of people. Also the style of music we play is often really embraced by folks out in rural areas. Usually there is more money in rural shows if they offer guarantee.

How did you market and promote your regional shows?
When we toured I used Future Popes Publicity, which was expensive but worth it as far as getting reviews, interviews, radio play and exposure.

How did you find suitable venues for your regional shows?
Prior to signing to a booking agency, I found out about venues usually by looking up acts I liked and where they were playing. The same still applies, but it’s nice having someone else to do that for me.

Why do you think regional touring is important for the music industry?
It would be narrow sighted to only focus on metropolitan areas for touring. Often the metropolitan areas are saturated with music to the point where it can be too difficult to figure out who to go and see because you're spoiled for choice. In regional areas residents aren't given the same amount of opportunity to see live music. It’s important for the public to foster the development of culture and creative inspirations for next generations and existing generations of creatives.

It benefits the industry because there is more opportunity for booking agents and acts to earn their crust, hone their craft and be involved with the public. Metro-centric touring misses out on so much of what music is about, which is connecting with people, sharing stories and seeing the country we live in.

Did you have any challenges touring regional Victoria and if so, how did you overcome them?
Touring regional Victoria is super fun and not too hard if you live here. Everything is fairly close together and there are so many towns it makes it really worthwhile.

What are the best outcome/s or opportunities for your act having toured regional Victoria?

  • Playing the Victorian Music Crawl I found my new booking agent and my manager.
  • These kind of initiatives mean your music is being exposed to the right people in the comfort of a venue you're familiar with.
  • Playing rural festivals has led to multiple other regional festival bookings for us also.

 

Mikelango

Regional NSW-based artist, Mikelangelo, chats about his experiences touring regional Victoria.

Briefly explain your regional tour
I’ve always done a lot of regional shows in halls, theatres and pubs. A good example to tell you about was a three-week regional tour of Victoria with my solo show, CAVE-WAITS-COHEN in November 2015. That tour was put together by Regional Arts Victoria and Public Booking and I played in an arts centre in Mildura, an old cinema in Charlton, an old courthouse in Stratford, a church in Horsham, a memo hall in Healsville, and country halls in Narbethong and King Valley. Every gig was unique and a great way to connect with new and diverse audiences and it was also great to be playing to all ages, from kids to retirees and everyone in between. The tour wasn’t promoting a release but was part of a national tour that also saw me play in regional venues in Tallarook, Wodonga, Wollongong, Yass, Mackay, Rockhampton, Townsville and Darwin.

Why do you think regional touring is important to your band/act?
I have always made my living from music and touring. Regional shows are essential to this, allowing me to tour more often and much more widely than if I was only concentrating on capital cities.

How did you market and promote your regional shows?
Most of the shows were marketed and promoted by the venues in association with Regional Arts Victoria, who have a lot of experience in this area. Having local people on board publicising the show is essential. They know how to get the word out to their community and get people to shows, something that’s hard to do if you really don’t know the town or the area.

How did you find suitable venues for your regional shows?
I performed an excerpt of my show at an annual event called Showcase Victoria in 2014. I had to apply to be a part of the showcase and when accepted I got to play to, and chat to, up to 300 venue operators. This was a great opportunity and led to a substantial tour in 2015. I recommend artists and managers jump online and check out Showcase Victoria. There are a lot of theatre and performing arts in their program, but they are always looking for more great music. If you have any questions, Regional Arts Victoria are always happy to help. All the contacts are there, just a mouse click away.

Why do you think regional touring is important for the music industry?
Regional touring is important in so many different ways. For an artist it opens your mind to possibilities and it’s inspiring to connect with new audiences and realise your work has a big market, its just a matter of finding it! For regional music fans, it’s a chance to see quality live music and make new discoveries. People are always appreciative that you’ve made the effort to come to their town and put on a great show.

Did you have any challenges touring regional Victoria and if so, how did you overcome them?
I have had good experiences touring regional Victoira thanks to the support of Public Bookings, the venues and Regional Arts Victoria, who managed the tour. Having a tour manager on board with you, getting good artist fees and local promoter supports are all key to a great tour. Getting in the van and trying to do it all yourself is a fun adventure but it can leave you broke and without many people at your gigs.

What are the best outcome/s or opportunities for your act having toured regional Victoria?
New audiences and fans, making a decent living, building networks, and more than anything, all the personal connections you make when you share your music with people you’ve never met and who may never have heard of you before. Its like making new friends.

 

Sal Kimber & The Rollin Wheel

Yackandandah based-artist, Sal Kimber chats to Music Victoria about regional touring.

Briefly explain your regional tour
We tour regional Victoria regularly. For our album tour last year we played over 20 Victorian rural shows as part of our official tour and did a further 10 rural shows in the four to six months after the official tour. We played in towns that we have toured a number of times in the past and some new towns too.

Why do you think regional touring is important to your band/act?
RegionaVictoria is an untapped resource. People come out to shows in regional areas and if you give them a good show, that is at a good time (not too late), that appeals to not just one age group, and not just one genre of music fans, then you're more likely to pull a crowd. Regional touring creates the staple [income] for our bank account. we often work with a local hall committee or do our research and get to know the town and find a hall to hire and work with locals to host the show (this is the key – having a local champ to spread the word and motivate friends, etc.).

How did you market and promote your regional shows?
Regional shows are a balance between word of mouth and the following elements:

  • Having a poster up in the town with good lead up before the show
  • Some local radio helps
  • The local paper

But essentially, your best promo tool are your locals. Getting the people in the town to spread the word is so imp[ortant. We often have people come to our shows and say something like, “I wouldn't usually go to a show like yours, I'm not really a country music fan but my mates talked me into coming and I had a great time”.

How did you find suitable venues for your regional shows?
Ask the locals. More and more we have been using local halls. Quite often the hire fees are low in regional areas. The smaller the town, the smaller the hire fee we find. Often these halls are gorgeous looking, sometimes they don’t always sound great but we take our own PA and sound engineer and dedicate the time to tune the room. We are a fan of playing away from the trashy pub atmosphere and a ticketed hall show, when we organise it ourselves in partnership with locals, is always aesthetically good. We can guarantee our own quality of sound and dictate the atmosphere: people listening to stories and music, and dancing and having fun but the focus is not on the consumption of alcohol, the focus is on the music.

Why do you think regional touring is important for the music industry?
It allows bands an income stream outside of urban Australia. If done well, a band can tour quite consistently in regional Australia – it takes more work on some levels regarding groundwork for networking with towns and people, etc. but it opens windows for more touring options.

Did you have any challenges touring regional Victoria and if so, how did you overcome them?
You need to have a team that is onboard together. Our band would set-up and pack down the PA with the sound engineer, we'd all chip in with setting up the merch desk and decorating the hall, etc. rather than just arriving at a venue and setting up your gear and playing. It's a lot more work for all involved but this in itself can be super satisfying.

What are the best outcome/s or opportunities for your act having toured regional Victoria?
More shows, more income, more connectivity to people and you get to see some gorgeous parts of the countryside.

 


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