Artist Lynxxx just completed his college campus music tour sponsored by Pepsi in three cities in Nigeria: Lagos, Ilorin, and Ibadan. The videos I have selected from his tours that you are about to watch, below, raises some things music talents and talents in general should consider before touring. So, let me address them and you all can then check on it.
Nigeria is structured differently but if you have lived in the USA or Europe and played on any athletic teams like I have, you sort of get the idea of what touring feels like. Also, if you are into soccer, as many Africans are, then you might appreciate my example. On a sports team, your coach and the sports administrative team does all the business and planning for the athletes, while the athletes focus on performance. The coach gives you money for your meals, provides the supplies you need etc. You just focus on the game, show up when you are supposed to, get on the bus or plane and fly from city to city or state to state competing in your chosen sport(s). Hopefully, you win some trophies and make your school proud.
Touring , in the music industry, shares similar parallels to the example above. Except, now, you the talent,given an emerging industry filled with lots of indie labels and solo artists, have to be a small business (i.e. the coach doing all the work) and the talent. In the music industry, a talent goes from city to city/state to state, performing. However, especially for indie labels and solo artists in Nigeria’s music industry, the artist wears the hat of a business man/or woman along with being the talent. If you are an artist signed to a record label, then lucky you because the label will help alleviate a bit of that responsibility of planning your tour for you.
So, let’s look at Lynxxx’s videos to see him play a role of a small business owner and talent, at the same time. There are a lot of tips and things you can draw from Lynxxx if you plan to tour like Lynxxx in Nigeria, or tour in the USA like P-Square did a little while back.
NOTE: Artist trying to penetrate the USA market, the model is the same. Start with US college campuses, first. Hit up every African student and Black student organizations you can to collaborate with and perform on their campus.
I never understand why Nigerian musicians think they can just come to the US and get center stage popularity when even US musicians have to employ these methods of touring to get to the top. When I was in college, BIGGIE came to my campus. He did a whole college tour. Later he went on and became big! Start small. No science to this. Alright, back to the tour stuff.
Both in Nigeria and definitely in the USA, touring aka putting on concerts is becoming/is the primary method artists make their money. You wanna eat, you gotta tour. You gotta do shows. End of story.
How Do You Get Sponsorship?
To tour, you need money. How do you get money? You get a sponsor like Lynxxx. You ask the sponsor. You also make sure before you ask, you can show a track record of success and a fan base that your sponsor needs to sell their products to. In Lynxxx’s example, Pepsi is a great sponsor for Lynxxx. College students listen to his song and love him. They are also the ones consuming Pepsi at a much higher rate, most likely, than even their parents. So, Pepsi has a high incentive to place its product in front of these young people so they can buy when they make a decision to purchase a soft drink.
Who Are the People You Need to Execute a Tour?
In our example, Lynxxx has:
1. A sponsor, Pepsi, to foot the bill
2. He has a tour manager to deal with the daily operations and rigors of touring
3. He has a publicity person to help generate noise about the tour
4. He has an agent to help him book shows
5. Other third parties unaccounted for in the video include promoters at each venue, and even the video production team that produced and edited the video you will watch.
This is a minimum. Obviously these persons have other team members to help execute basic tasks etc. and to delegate. But they are more or less the executive team, if you will, for touring.
YOU MUST DO THIS TIP: From the sponsor to tour manager, video crew, promoters, artists etc., every one MUST sign a contract. Get into this habit. Contact an entertainment lawyer to help you draft these contracts. If you cannot afford one, click here to see the basics to include in a contract. Keep the contract simple. A primary school student should understand what is in your contract. That is how simple it should be. No big fone/grammar.
What Cities Should You Tour?
Lynxxx chose three cities and they are all close to each other and close to his home base, Lagos. Don’t go on a nationwide tour. It is very expensive and you have not established that your fan base are in all these cities. Don’t waste your time and the time of others. Baby steps first. Easy does it.
What Are the Expenses on the Road to Anticipate?
There are so many expenses that you have to think about when you tour and you can see it present in Lynxx’s tour. Tighten your budget. Your sponsor gives you money but you still have to budget and account for it. Tighten your belt but don’t be too stingy.
- Van/Bus Expense – The bus is not free. It is rented for the tour.
- Fuel/Petrol cost
- Flight fare (the tour here was on the road but if it is air flight or involves anyone flying, you’ve got to calculate it into the mix.)
- Hotel cost for staff
- Hotel cost for the artists who traveled on the road with Lynxxx
- Cost for Food
- Cost for promotional materials
- Cost for a new wardrobe/clothing (if necessary) for the radio appearances
- Equipment costs,
- Sound check etc.
- Payments for everyone on that tour (nobody is or should be expected to work for free). If you have interns, you still should pay them a little stipend in this instance for basic needs they might have.
How Much Should You Charge at the Door and What Added Value Can You Give Your Fans?
- Lynxxx knows his customers are college students. It means they do not necessarily have too much money. He chose the right amount of money to charge, he chose the right city where his fan base are, he brought the right opening acts to pump the crowd up.
- For all that, he charged only 200Naira and offered CDs and T-shirts, a bottle of Pepsi, a chance to see him, Tiwa Savage, Sinzu and all sorts of really talented amazing acts.
What Marketing and Promotions Should You Anticipate Doing?
- Radio promotions, interviews and appearances (your publicist should have this on lock down)
- Fliers and Banners across your targeted city announcing your upcoming event
- Direct contact with your fans and new fans as you move around the city and campus you intend to perform
Who Are the Kinds of Stars You Should Invite to Be a Part of Your Tour
- When you are on tour, YOU ARE THE STAR. So, regardless of how big deal your colleagues are, it is NOT their show, don’t make it theirs. They need to understand this or else remove them quick, quick.
- Invite stars and opening acts with the right chemistry who compliment you and can pull a crowd in i.e. pack a room.
- Invite stars that are easy to work with. Sinzu cracked everyone up. Touring is tedious and not very glamorous. Chemistry must match under tough conditions.
Aright, let’s wrap this thing up. Let’s shut it down.
What Kinds of Problems Should You Anticipate?
- In Lynxxx’s tour we see a crazy driver who about got them killed. It’s Nigeria, expect this.
- Busted tire on Nigeria’s very bad roads. Bring spare tires
- Toilet issues, people have to use the toilet. Have people on the van that, it is no drama to use the bush when no toilet is around like in Lynxxx’s situation.
- Hotel problems. It is Nigeria. Lynxxx gets to hotel and they are waiting over an hour later
- Generator and NEPA problems. I am old school. I still call PHCN, NEPA. Lynxxx is ready to perform and what happens, the light goes out.
Delegate, Delegate, Delegate
- You’ve hired your manager, publicist etc. Delegate work to them. Delegate the person who handles hotels. Delegate food, transportation etc. Don’t take it all on yourself. Don’t be passive but also don’t be micro-managing either. Lynxxx is hands on but not were he is micromanaging. You see the guy knows what is happening at every-time with his crew and people are reporting to him.
- This is an overview of what you should think of before you attempt a tour! So, get your sponsor, get your budget, budget wisely, be safe and go have fun!!
Provide Copies of the Tour Agenda So Everyone Knows
I tend to like to organize things but when I have to micro-manage, I feel like screaming! It kills so much time. So, if you are like me, you don’t want your crew asking every second, “what’s next?” “what do we do?” It will drive you nuts! So, have your publicist print out all the details on city, date of show, time of arrival, sound check etc. and give every one. That way, everyone knows and plays their part.
I know many of you email me that you read my entries and it is helpful. Drop a comment here for your fellow industry people so they know how exactly this is helping. That is why Africamusiclaw.com is set up. To provide you info. and also have you help others too. This is not every man/woman for themselves. We are all in this together.
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