How to book a concert tour (part 1): a peace of mind and the sizzle

How do you book a concert tour for yourself? If you are a classical musician who is not internationally famous, how would you get someone to book you for a concert where you have to travel a great distance to? And when you’re there, you don’t want to just give one concert. A concert tour is a journey of more than one concert. Here are the first two steps to the dilemma.


Back in early October 2010, I posed the circularity of booking a concert tour. It’s the chicken or the egg question. Do you book the tour first or the concert?

In other words, do you get the gigs lined up before you book the flights and cancel other commitments? Or do you book the flights before the fares go up and then hope that you can fill your tour with concert bookings?

Time is the answer. [Someone else would argue: hire an agent.]

The more time you have before you start on your journey, the more opportunities you have.

We knew in late April 2010 when we got our visas that we wanted to give concerts in the USA. We did not know where to start. We sounded out a few people we knew well. Every time we wanted to book our flights, an obstacle came up. Where do we fly to? Where do we come back from? When do we leave? When do we come back? When we finally answered those questions, we discovered we could not leave without a peace of mind.

Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in San Francisco, November 2010
Bekkers Piano Guitar Duo in San Francisco, November 2010

Step 1: Make sure you have a peace of mind (BEFORE you embark on a tour).

Can you leave your job?  Robert asked for permission to take an unpaid leave of absence. In less flexible parts of the world, this is unheard of.

Can you leave your home? Do you have a mortgage to pay? How will you cover the bills? Can you leave your home empty?

Do you have enough savings to buffer uncertainties that may arise?

Can you cover the large costs of air travel (and others) without bankrupting yourself? [This is a future blog post. Classical guitarist and composer Derek Gripper offers some suggestions.]

Step 2: What do you have to offer —- to get yourself booked?

What are your unique selling points (USP)? How are you different from any other classical guitarist playing solo guitar? Why would anyone want to hear you? Why would anyone want to organise a concert for you?

I call this the Sizzle.

Create a one page document that contains a few words about you, a short biography, your programme, some validation points so people who don’t know you can associate you with something, someone, or somewhere better known & that’s been validated. A sizzle should sizzle. It should make you shine and make the reader want to meet you and find a way to hear you.

For our America Tour, we created a 3-page PDF about ourselves and what we would like to share. We linked the PDF from a webpage that we used to add other things we could not fit in the 3-page sizzle. This webpage became the central depository of concert bookings: dates, locations, and links to stories we wrote on our blogs.

To create a sizzle, you need the following:

  • good photographs (72 dpi for web images and higher resolution for printing)
  • short biography that’s easy to read
  • programme: titles of works and their composers
  • description of the programme: this could be a summary, especially if you offer a choice
  • audio clips
  • video clips
  • quotes from reviewers or other third-party validation
  • contact details

Another item you should have readily available is the programme notes of what you would play. It should be in a format that you can edit so you can adjust the length of the programme and the text, change the date, time and location of the performance, etc. We have a copy in Word document but we linked our concert tour webpage to a PDF version for easier viewing.

Next: How to book a concert tour (part 2): content before contact

Author: BLOGmaiden

As one of the earliest bloggers (since 1999), I enjoy meeting people who embrace "out-of-the-box" thinking and fear not the unknown. I believe in collaboration for sustainability because it increases stakeholder value.

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