In this day and age it’s nearly impossible to make money as an independent singer songwriter. Many people think it’s actually physically impossible but the truth of the matter is that there is a way. And it’s not as difficult as you think, you just have to know what to do and how to do it. Many people think they can’t tour and make money until they have label support – but that’s an old construct that is simply not realistic anymore. you need to show that you can make money and tour successfully before any label will even take you on. So what do you need to know?
First and foremost, you have to actually go on tour. No one’s going to do it for you at first. You won’t be able to get any sort of quality booking agent before you can book your own independent tour on your own. So just start booking a little mini tour. Shoot some emails out to places along the routing that you choose. Go for a little long weekend run, or do 2 weeks out. The point is to keep going out and starting. Look at coffee shops, places that may not pay you a lot, but will let you play on other days of the week other than Friday and Saturday nights. You will eventually be able to work your way up if you just get started. You don’t even have to be that good – you just have to work hard, keep at it, and be cool to make friends along the way.
Then you got to get the right wheels for the job. You need something reliable that will be able to get you there and around the country, while not sucking down gas, and not being a very obvious touring vehicle. If you’re in something that looks obviously like a musician’s car, you’re going to set yourself up for being robbed (especially if you go to St. Louis). Check out the used cars in San Bernardino, there are going to be some great options for the newbie singer songwriter. It won’t only be Nissans at that place, cause they take trade ins from other car manufacturers. And if all else fails, head to Metro Nissan Redlands because they can get you some great deals on cars that will definitely help you move about the country freely and easily.
Since you won’t be able to command huge guarantees in your first few months and years, you’re going to want to get some merchandise to sell. Even if you make $20 from a coffee shop in NowheresVille USA, you can at least sell a few CDs, or beer koozies or other such merchandise to the people there and get money for that gas tank. There are a lot of options for cheap merchandise that will really make a huge difference for you and will make that tour successful instead of total and utter failure.