Releasing Records and Touring: The DIY Approach in Practice

Categories: Ask Fan Landers

I think since you are just starting to play outside of St. Louis, you need to find the cheapest transport possible until you are playing shows where you are making enough money that buying or renting a van makes sense. Can you borrow another bands van? Barter one of your cars for the weekend, throw some cash and an oil change their way. Or ask around and find out who are the bands in town that rent their van out--it has to be cheaper than what it would cost to get a cargo van from Budget.

Would it be smart to invest in a mini-van? As you are still, primarily, a local band and able to get to your shows individually just fine--until you are at the point where weekend tours and regional swings are frequent and nessecitating that you get your own dedicated band vehicle, I think that investment might be premature. The consideration of a van can kind of be a chicken/egg situation--if you had a van, perhaps you could tour. If you had a tour, you could get a van.

In the meantime, just see how this one weekend goes. And the next few. Have some reasonable and emotionally sober conversations about your bands future with your band mates about how much time and money everyone is interested and capable in investing in this down the road. Let your van plans come out of that. But, whatever you do, don't let your hasty ambitions do your shopping for you.
Have a safe tour,

Dear Fan Landers,
I'm curious to ask you your opinion on my band's next move. We're an independent Riot Grrrl quartet and we've been playing locally in Southern California since 2009; we gig pretty extensively and have had some press in the OC Weekly. We are an indie Riot Grrrl band with girl singer/guitar, girl bass player, lead guitar and drums. We are currently working on our sophomore album and my question is what would be a good approach to getting this new record out there. Would trying to get with an Indie label be something we should pursue or just go it alone. We have done fine on our own but there is always the thought of getting our music out to more people.

Hey Johnny,
Being a local band with a modest following, releasing your own record on your bands vanity label and selling it at shows and consigning it at record stores is exactly what you should be doing. Is there a local or regional label that you could solicit to do a split release for album two? Like the letter writer up top, you are in the right place and making the right moves given the level your band is at. A label of any size is not going to automatically make you band blow up; any band that has been dropped by Matador or Capitol can attest to that.

The good thing is that you are in a California band and you can do weekend tours and cover the whole state. There are like, what, maybe a dozen places your band can regularly play just between Los Angeles and Hermosa Beach.

While it is only natural to want to bust into the wider world and try to make a name nationally, why don't you just start by touring the living fuck out of California--from Tijuana up to Goleta, house shows, clubs, block parties. Get all No Age about it and find some underused Portuguese Seaman's hall and book some rad line-ups for you to headline in their basement. Get your hustle on as soon as this album is in the can and start paving the way for your record. Begin there and write back when you are ready to start promoting the album to local press and radio and we can tackle that.
Best of luck with the recording,

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