Band to Business is a series hosted by Ernie Ball and industry friend, Jen Kellogg that features workshop topics around building your band into a business. First, let’s get to know Jen…
Jen Kellogg has spent over 25 adventurous years in the concert industry as a roadie, talent buyer, educator and entrepreneur. During her quarantine, she’s hosting a virtual workshop series called “Concert Business Basics” to help those starting their career in the concert industry, and established professionals interested in expanding beyond their existing areas of expertise. She crunched numbers as the tour accountant for the Vans Warped Tour from 2009-2017. During that time she co-founded The Entertainment Institute and brought the fan’s unique backstage workshops with artists on the tour. Prior to that, as a talent buyer at Jam Productions, she booked theaters and arenas, and specialized in minor league baseball parks. Her first full tour was with Bob Dylan and Willie Nelson and it sparked her love of the road life. Jen teaches Producing and Touring Live Entertainment at Columbia College Chicago and has spoken at highly respected industry conferences including SXSW and Pollstar.
There are so many quirky details about the concert business that I didn’t know when I got my start promoting shows at the University of Iowa, and then at Jam Productions in Chicago. Little things like what a “drop count” is and big things like what “settlement” is or the difference between a “Manager” and a “Tour Manager”. Back then, I found the vibe in the industry to be “Why don’t you already know this?” and my thought in response was “How would I know that?”. We aren’t born knowing everything and when starting out, you don’t know what you don’t know. I had to ask lots and lots of questions, and my goal is to proactively answer yours in my workshops.
How An Idea Becomes A Tour
We all love an adventure, and when artists can get back on the road safely, here are some of the things to think about when planning any tour. Tune in below for the first episode of Band to Business: ‘How An Idea Becomes A Tour’.
What is your artistic vision for the show? Having a clear vision of what you are presenting on stage will help you in all of the other planning steps.
Who is your audience and what experience do they want when they see you play? Build your audience online and locally first before incurring the extra expenses of being on the road.
Also Who in the band is doing what? You should all have a “job” aside from playing on stage: finances, social media marketing, driving, booking the shows and coordinating with the venue are a few. Doing this will give you a feel for when it’s time to add on team members like a manager, agent, or tour manager.
Where? Look for venues and promoters that specialize in your type of show. Do your research to avoid hitting up places that don’t make sense for your band. Find other bands in your region and team up to play shows together. You will be reaching a receptive audience, and that will help grow your fan base.
When? Think about other competing events, time of year, days of the week. You’ll probably want to start out “weekend warrior” style, playing shows regionally just on weekends.
Why? Have a clear vision of your goals and why a tour will help accomplish them. Is it to build your fan base, actually make money, or to build a network of similar bands? Understanding your “Why” will help you make smart choices.
How will you make it financially happen? Do you have the equipment needed and a vehicle to get around? Can you afford the gas to get from place to place and food to feed everyone? Where will you sleep? Touring can be expensive, so understand the costs.
While this short video runs through some quick tips to getting your band on the road, Jen’s full “How an Idea Becomes a Tour” workshop will give a broader overview of many of the components that go into a professional tour.
Band to Business is created to help in the business of artistic endeavors, and shed some insight into the behind-the-scenes jobs that make it all happen. See you next time!
For more information and other workshops from Jen, head to her website here.