I remember having a conversation with a music enthusiast recently. We were debating whether or not people were harming or aiding bands when they downloaded music without paying for it. One of the comments he made was, "Bands should return to focusing on making money the original way - go on tour." It's hard to believe, yet it is true that this was the original and primary way bands earned their keep. They played local bars and taverns to feed and clothe themselves. If they were lucky they were able to buy new equipment after a few successful gigs.
Today things are different. If you're not already popular, who's going to give you a chance to play in their establishment? Looking for gigs requires a manager and not everyone is lucky enough to have a Paul McGuinness. Or fortunate to be able to afford one. Or have the time to be able to do it themselves.
Enter TourSavant.com. Co-founded by Toronto tech entrepreneur Aaron Kaufman, TourSavant is an online tour management company. Founded in late 2008, and recently out of beta, TourSavant is a virtual road manager for independent bands with online tools and applications. The company has also developed a virtual tour router to take all the hassle out of planning and booking a tour.
What about online tools such as Facebook, Twitter and even YouTube? Couldn't these, more popular tools, help bands connect with the right people and venues? "We wanted to use available technology to help indie bands beyond the enormous amount of online promo tools available, " responded Mr. Kaufman. "What didn't exist in the market was a way to make getting to fans physically more efficient or less time consuming, so that is where we focused our energy. Until now, nobody has stepped in to this space to make the process of touring as simple as ever."
How simple is it? I booked a tour myself (I don't play but I can sing in the shower...). I received directions from city to city, venue details, and I was able to save specific tour details as well. In fact, there is a very cool video on YouTube that shows the ease and simplicity of booking a tour.
TourSavant currently also offers interesting features such as equipment insurance, MasterCard discounts and a very interesting feature that allows bands to connect and converse with labels and managers for tips and insight. Almost like a "mastermind" group the "Ask The Experts" feature allows the site's members to seek advice from music industry veterans, network with music labels and bounce ideas off of music publishers.
So, will the music industry be saved by touring? Maybe my friend was correct. Whether or not the record labels will find another financial model to survive is unknown. What is evident is that touring can help a band become successful. Aaron Kaufman, for one, believes that TourSavant will play a large role in helping bands reach their potential, "We are helping get bands to fans to grow their audience and we are using the web and other technology to do that."
Let the music play.