I’m sitting at Mo’Joe’s coffee shop in Indianapolis, thinking about why this tour is different than others. As I was waiting for my computer to start up, I actually heard a girl 10 feet from me talking about the fact that she went to Miami University “in Ohio,” and it can sum up the biggest difference in one word. Connections.
In 2002, I mailed 200 CDs to venues and booked 9 shows. I ended up playing in Jacksonville one night, and Pittsburgh 2 days later. I went any place that said yes. In 2004, I started playing at the open mic at Stadium in Oxford, and that allowed me to build a following in Oxford. In 2005, I took the confidence I built from that to start playing in Dayton. To promote those first few shows, I passed out 300-400 demos on average. In Oxford, I probably gave away 2,000 CDs in one semester.
In 2006, I toured the east coast in a minivan. I was able to sleep in the minivan, but the transmission died about a week after the tour. I had 4 full shows, and played at 7 open mic nights. None of them were profitable.
For my “liberty island” tour in 2011, I had built up to having 6 full shows and 11 open mic nights in 18 days.
And, I’ve continued to build from there. I first played Cincinnati in 1998, at CD World in Colerain, which means I’ve spent over 16 years building a following there. In Oxford, it’s really been since 2004, so just over 10. I’ve been playing in Dayton for a decade.
In all of my touring, promoting, etc. I have finally established myself in about 8 cities in Ohio, as well as Chicago and New York City. As of the time I’m writing this, I have 11 full shows booked, along with a 30 minute featured performer slot in Pittsburgh. I have 3 or 4 more places where I’m very likely to have full shows booked soon, and I’m spending the rest of my time opening doors.
Which brings me to the other big reason why this tour is different. I’ll be able to open doors because I’ll have the time and resources to do so. For the past 10 months, I had been working 2 jobs. One full-time and the other a few hours per week. Doing so allowed me to pay off debt, save money, and improve my credit score, which has increased my credit limits. Those increased credit limits, combined with the cash I have saved, will get me through the next 2 and a half months. Bills should not be an issue until the end of May. Yes, it means I’ll be living off of credit card debt, but living your dream requires risk. I still, thankfully, have the second job, and I can do it from anywhere there’s a wifi connection, but the work is erratic, so I can’t guarantee I’ll make any money from it. Still, it’s nice to have, and could ultimately be the difference from extending the tour an extra week, having a few truly breakout shows and making a living from my music, or running out of money and having to go back to working a regular job.
I also have a decent stock of t-shirts (37, and if I sell them that means I’ll have enough to restock) and 50 CD copies of “RnR Playdate (live)” should arrive at my apartment today, which will be a nice thing to come home to. And, I’ll be releasing “Zachariah Sebastian,” in May.
Then, there are seemingly small things that are actually pretty big. I now have Spotify and XM Radio. My 2 and a half hour drive from Oxford to Bloomington, IN yesterday was much easier knowing that the radio was continuously playing music I like. It’s much different than flipping through radio stations in a town I’m unfamiliar with, only to have a song I didn’t like come on, or commercials. I’ve also been through the rigors of touring several times. I know it can be very hit and miss. It makes nights like last night much easier to take. 80 percent of the crowd left last night while I was on stage, getting ready to sound check, and because the open mic was running behind, my set got cut from 15 minutes to 10. That’s a little tough after driving 2 and a half hours to get there, plus the expense of a hotel and another hour and a half drive to get to my hotel room (which would have been an hour, but the hotel gave my room to someone else, and put me in a different hotel in the same chain 25 minutes away). In the past, it would have worn me out more. Now, it’s just one day that didn’t work. There will be plenty that do.
Finally, there’s the weather. In most years, if I had tried to start my tour the first week of March, there would be a significant chance of snow. At least one show would be adversely affected by the weather. So far, it appears that March is going to be nearly perfect this year. This means people are more likely to come to shows, and it makes driving a lot easier for me. If I am able to generate the right momentum over the next 2 months, the weather should still be good for touring for an additional 6 months, which means I could be touring for a very long time.
What makes the tour the same is my passion for music, and my amazing fans. I’m just lucky that I have more of them now. Hopefully, I just made one more, as I just talked to the girl who went to Miami and gave her a flier.