Touring 101


Authored by Bruce Houghton


Course Code: OMBUS-250

Next semester starts September 23

12 Weeks

Level 2

Level 2

3-Credit Tuition


Non-Credit Tuition


With income related to live performances accounting for 60-80 percent of most artists’ income, never has it been more important for musicians to build and sustain a touring career. This course is designed to teach you how to do just that.

Beginning with your earliest gigs through your first national tour, you'll learn how to create a memorable live performance; book, negotiate, and market only the right shows; capture a loyal fan base; and build the kind of success story that helps expand your entire career.

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By the end of the course, you will be able to:

  • Outline the history and importance of performing live, and put that knowledge to work, building a career in music
  • Create the building blocks of a successful live performance career, including online and offline branding, creating a memorable live show, and structuring a band and a business that supports it
  • Find, negotiate, contract, and perform the right gigs
  • Market each show and build a community of loyal and supportive fans
  • Move beyond the home market to tour regionally, nationally, and internationally
  • Secure a booking agent and team that is dedicated to your success
  • Protect your financial, mental, and physical well-being throughout the journey
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Lesson 1: An Introduction to Grassroots Touring

  • A Brief History of Modern Touring: The 1950s
  • A Brief History of Modern Touring: The 1960s and '70s
  • A Brief History of Modern Touring: The 1980s and '90s
  • The Importance of Touring in the Modern Music Industry
  • The Ability to Generate Income
  • Learn the Language of Touring: Key Touring Industry Players
  • Learn the Language of Touring: Types of Live Performances
  • Learn the Language of Touring: The Deal
  • Learn the Language of Touring: Miscellaneous
  • Modern Grassroots Touring
  • Attracting Your Team
  • Assignment 1: To Dream the Obtainable Dream

Lesson 2: Everyone Starts Somewhere—Be Prepared for Success

  • Meet the Band
  • Be Ready for Success
  • Self-Assessment: What is Your Brand?
  • Brand and Marketing Building Blocks
  • The Written Parts of Your Press Kit
  • Go Online: Website and Email
  • Go Online: Social Media and Streaming Profiles
  • Assignment 2: Build Your Foundational Brand Elements

Lesson 3: Get Ready to Play

  • The Beatles and the Importance of Smart Practice
  • The No. 1 Predictor of Success
  • Develop a Show
  • Get Organized
  • Your Team
  • Book a Pre-Show
  • Assignment 3: Create a Plan

Lesson 4: Booking Basics

  • Why?
  • How to Identify the Right Gigs
  • Selling
  • Getting Started
  • Persistence Pays
  • Closing the Deal
  • Everything Is Negotiable
  • Contract Basics
  • Setting and Exceeding Expectations
  • Assignment 4: Research Two Venues

Lesson 5: Growing an Audience

  • Gig and Venue Types
  • Performing Where There’s Already an Audience
  • Finding the Right Opportunities
  • Unusual Venues
  • Non-Traditional Performance Opportunities
  • Live from Your Basement to the World
  • The Importance of Capturing Fan Data
  • Text Campaigns and Social Media
  • Assignment 5: Build Your Audience

Lesson 6: Build Your Live Music Business

  • What Is a Great Gig?
  • Performing Too Little or Too Much
  • The Underplay
  • Measure Success as a Live Musician
  • Keep a Record
  • Audience Reaction and More Data
  • Refine Your Pitch to Tell Your Unique Touring Success Story
  • Touring Pitching Examples
  • The Pros Speak
  • Fans First
  • Assignment 6: Write Your Own Live Pitch

Lesson 7: Time to Hit the Road

  • Set Your Touring Goals
  • Why Are You Touring?
  • Hub and Spokes Touring
  • Slow Touring
  • Straight-Line Touring and Chasing Interest
  • Routed Touring
  • Combining Strategies
  • How to Find the Right Venues to Play
  • International Touring
  • More Approaches to Booking Overseas
  • Choose Your Targets Carefully
  • Assignment 7: Route Your Tour

Lesson 8: Making Money on Tour

  • The Deal
  • Win/Win and Hidden Charges
  • VIP and Fan Experiences
  • Free and Affordable VIP and Fan Experiences
  • Merchandise
  • The Merch Table
  • Performance Royalties
  • Sponsorships
  • Tour Expenses
  • Tips and Tricks to Save Money on Tour
  • Assignment 8: Three-Day Tour

Lesson 9: Marketing Your Gigs and Tours

  • Take Control of Your Own Marketing
  • Start Strong
  • Tour Marketing on Spotify, Pandora, and Other Streaming Services
  • Make Every Show an Event
  • Examples of Making Every Show an Event
  • Tour Marketing on Social Media
  • Video Tour Marketing on Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and TikTok
  • Digital Posters and Social Media Graphics
  • Universal Truths of Social Media
  • Old School Marketing
  • Effective, Low-Cost Advertising
  • Bandsintown, Spotify, and More
  • Assignment 9: Write a Marketing Plan

Lesson 10: Building a Smart and Compassionate Touring Business

  • Strategies for Improved Band Relations
  • Divide and Delegate
  • A Partnership Agreement
  • Improve Communications
  • Tools, Apps, and Services for Touring Artists
  • Better Data Means Better Touring Decisions
  • Taking Care of You: Health and Wellness for Musicians
  • Gender Minorities in the Music Industry
  • Education, Prevention, and Working to Stay Healthy
  • Assignment 10: Artist Online Fan Engagement

Lesson 11: Find and Secure a Booking Agent

  • What Does a Booking Agent Do?
  • What Does an Agent Not Do?
  • What Does a Booking Agent Look for in an Artist?
  • A Word from the Experts
  • What Should an Artist Look for in a Booking Agent?
  • Structural and Business Issues
  • How Does an Artist Find the Right Agent?
  • Solomon Burke and the Winding Road to Success
  • How to Work Effectively with your Booking Agent
  • Assignment 11: Research Booking Agents

Lesson 12: Planning Your Tour

  • Find Your Niche and Build from There
  • Maggie Rogers
  • Make Every Show an Event
  • Every Show Is a New Opportunity
  • Go Wide
  • Build Your Touring Business Your Own Way
  • It Won't Be Easy, But It Is Possible
  • One More Thing about Luck
  • Why Are You Launching This Tour?
  • Assignment 12: Map Out a Proposed Tour


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

Prerequisite Courses, Knowledge, and/or Skills
This course does not have any prerequisites.


  • No textbooks required

Student Deals
After enrolling, be sure to check out our Student Deals page for various offers on software, hardware, and more. Please contact with any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in Live Classes. Please make sure to also check the Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements section above, and ensure your computer meets or exceeds the minimum system requirements for all software needed for your course. 

Mac Users

PC Users

All Users

  • Latest version of Google Chrome
  • Zoom meeting software
  • Webcam
  • Speakers or headphones
  • External or internal microphone
  • Broadband Internet connection


Bruce Houghton

Author & Instructor

Bruce Houghton is founder and president of Skyline Artists Agency, representing a diverse roster of national and international touring talent including Zoe Keating, Darlingside, Poco, Freddie McGregor, Roger McGuinn, and many others. A sought-after industry expert and speaker, he has served on the Advisory Boards of Midem and SXSW Accelerator, is a graduate of the prestigious Leadership Music program, and serves as a senior advisor to Bandsintown. His top-ranked sites Hypebot and MusicThinkTank cover the new music industry and the way that technology is changing how music is created, marketed, consumed, and monetized.


Contact our Academic Advisors by phone at 1-866-BERKLEE (U.S.), 1-617-747-2146 (INT'L), or by email at

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