Touring 101


Authored by Bruce Houghton


Course Code: OMBUS-250

Next Semester Starts
Jan 10, 2022

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 1980s
  • 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
  • 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
  • Assignment 2: Create Two Basic 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
  • Formal Contracts
  • 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
  • Measure Success as a Live Musician
  • Refine Your Pitch to Tell Your Unique Touring Success Story
  • Fans First 
  • Assignment 6: Write Your Own Live Pitch

Lesson 7: Time to Hit the Road

  • Set Your Touring Goals
  • Touring Strategies
  • How to Find the Right Venues to Play
  • International Touring
  • Choose Your Targets Carefully
  • Assignment 7: Pick a Touring Strategy

Lesson 8: Making Money on Tour

  • The Deal
  • VIP and Fan Experiences
  • Merchandise
  • Performance Royalties
  • Sponsorships
  • Tour Expenses
  • Tips and Tricks to Save Money on Tour
  • Assignment 8: Map out a 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
  • Tour Marketing on Social Media
  • Old School Marketing
  • Effective, Low-Cost Advertising
  • Assignment 9: Write a Basic Marketing Plan for a Club Show

Lesson 10: Building a Smart and Compassionate Touring Business

  • Strategies for Improved Band Relations 
  • Improve Communications 
  • Tools, Apps, and Services for Touring Artists
  • Better Data Means Better Touring Decisions
  • Taking Care of You: Health and Wellness for Musicians
  • Assignment 10: Analyze Band Communication with Fans

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? 
  • What Should an Artist Look for in a Booking Agent?
  • 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
  • Go Wide
  • It Won’t Be Easy, But It Is Possible
  • Why Are You Launching This Tour?
  • Assignment 12: Map out a Proposed Tour


Prerequisites and Course-Specific Requirements 

This course does not have any prerequisites.

Required Textbook(s)

  • None required

After enrolling, please check the Getting Started section of your course for potential deals on required materials. Our Student Deals page also features several discounts you can take advantage of as a current student. Please contact for any questions.

General Course Requirements

Below are the minimum requirements to access the course environment and participate in live chats. 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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