In the age of the Internet it has become almost too easy to let the whole world know what you are up to. Although most of the time this can be pretty annoying —no one really wants to hear a play-by-play of their neighbor’s trip to the grocery store— it presents a great opportunity for touring musicians. Updating your fans with videos, pictures and songs will keep them engaged and eager to buy concert tickets. Luckily there are tons of easy ways to share your life on the road with your fans.
Step One: Laptop
OK, this probably seems like a given, but it’s important to have a laptop that has some type of video and audio editing software. Although I’m sure 99.9% of all touring musicians have laptops with these capabilities, it’s still worth mentioning. Personally, I’m a huge fan of MacBooks (Pro or otherwise). They come equipped with iMovie and Garageband, and have a built-in webcam perfect for making a quick video update or (as I talk about below) streaming live shows.
Step Two: Tumblr.com
John Mayer with fans in Brooklyn
Any blog platform will do really, but I’m personally very partial to Tumblr. The format is really easy to use and it’s endorsed by John Mayer—what more do you need to know really? It’s a central place where you can write blogs, upload videos and songs, post links, funny conversations and quotes – basically anything you could ever want! Check out 30 Reasons Why You’ll Love Tumblr and you’ll be sold.
Step Three: Content
Flip Video Cam
Now that you’ve set up your Tumblr (or other blog) you need to generate some entertaining content. Anytime I follow a musician on tour, there are three major posts that catch my attention – video updates, songs and pictures. Let’s be honest, who reads anymore?! If you’re going out on tour for a month or so, weekly tour update videos are a great way to let your fans know your whereabouts and what you’ve been up to. The Flip video cam is a really useful tool for anyone making movies on the go, especially movies that may include live footage from one of your shows. Although the price can be a little steep, the video and audio quality is great and the camera itself is super easy to use. Just record some footage, plug it in with the built-in USB and you’re good to go!
The girls behind the "Spring Break Forever" Theme Song
In terms of songs, I am a huge fan of tour theme songs. They’re funny and a great way to spread the word. Offer them up as a free download on your Tumblr and your fans will be buzzing. Also, if you get the opportunity to record one of your shows, posting the audio is a great way to let your fans know what they can expect from your live show. If you’re one of those “writing on the road” types, posting Garageband demos of brand-spanking new songs is another great way to generate interest, even if the song is a complete joke that you and your tour-mates wrote for fun.
Andrew Maury on tour with Ra Ra Riot
The key to taking entertaining pictures is people. You may think that the beautiful sunset or view from your van is awesome, and a few of those type of pictures are okay, but overall no one really cares. People want to see pictures of you and your tour-mates, the crazy bum sitting outside the venue or pictures of you and your fans.
Just populate your blog with these types of posts and I guarantee your fans will love you for it! Also, make sure you hook up your Twitter to your Tumblr so anytime you update your blog, an announcement will be sent to all your Twitter followers.
Step Four: Livestream
Livestreaming your show is another great way to build hype amongst your fans. It gives them an event to look forward to and gives them the opportunity to see you perform live if they can’t make it out to the show. Some great wWeb sites for this include Livestream.com, Justin.tv and UStream.tv. All you need is a web cam, a high speed Internet connection and a laptop. If the venue you’re playing has high speed Internet, streaming from the green room or backstage can also be a fun thing to do with fans. The majority of these platforms have live chats where viewers of your livestream can interact with you, ask questions and give song requests. Hanson is a great example of a band that uses Livestream to it’s best —they have a player embedded onto their Web site that broadcasts select shows, posts update while driving from city to city and takes request for their upcoming performances.
Do you know any examples of bands that are GREAT at blogging from the road? Let us know in the comments!