How to Open For Nationally Touring Artists

**Guest post written by Joy Ike, creator of and Independent Musician, as featured on

“Nailing big opportunities is one of the major things that kickstarts the career of an independent artist. Sometimes it’s having a video go viral. Other times it’s falling under the good graces of someone who knows someone. But sometimes it’s getting to open for a national touring act and getting your name out to a larger audience of new listeners.

Unfortunately, most artists feel like this is an impossible task. How do you open for a national touring act when you don’t have a manager, a booking agent, or know someone who knows someone? Well, here are 7 excellent tips for making it happen.

1. Just Ask

First rule of thumb: Ask and ye shall receive. You have not because you ask not. Musicians make it soooo much harder than it needs to be. If you think you will be the perfect opener for a band that is coming through town, hit up the venue, find the talent buyer’s email address, and shoot her a grammatically correct, to-the-point email. Make your case. If you need pointers on how to pitch yourself, read one of our most trafficked posts:Booking: Writing the Perfect Email Pitch. Honestly, when it comes to booking, you’ll never know if you don’t try.

+Here’s The Pitch, Pt. 2: The Follow-Up

2. Focus on Your City (cities)

Don’t try to open for some major artist who’s touring through Seattle, WA if you live in Washington D.C. Wait for them to come to D.C. Venues want artist openers that have something to offer – i.e. they give you stage time in front of a huge audience, you draw out some heads to the show and warm up the crowd for the main act. If you’ve been working the ground in your own city, then you have clout and a real shot at being the opener. Talent buyers want openers that can draw fans because their name is attached to the promotion. If you have 3 cities where you have a huge draw, then feel free to reach out as an opener to venues in those cities. That makes sense.

+What’s Your Draw?

3. Make Sure Your Brand is Strong

If we could sum up the purpose of Grassrootsy in one sentence it would be just that: helping artist to make sure their brand is strong. Don’t try to get an opener spot if your website is jacked up or, even worse, doesn’t exist. You can’t be taken seriously if you don’t have the necessary tools. Just like a musician needs her guitar, a booking agent (also you in this case), needs publicity material. Don’t expect a venue to want to book you as an opener if they can’t visit your website to learn about about who you are, where you are based, which venues you currently play, and get an idea of your draw.

+5 Reasons Why Bands Need (Better) Websites

4. Be Realistic

Your pitch needs to be a realistic one. If you are few years into your career and playing local coffeehouses and clubs, then you probably wont be opening for John Mayer or Ingrid Michaelson. After all, they travel with their own tour support. They’re just too big. To be blunt: they don’t need you. Find gigs that make sense. Look for artist that are ”next level”. They might not be famous, but they’re bigger than you, and it makes for a good match from the perspective of the venue. The chances of you opening for this type of artist are much higher. Also, don’t be afraid to open for artists whose names you don’ t recognize. Just because they’ re not a household name doesn’t mean it wont be a good opportunity. In fact, it probably means you’re out of the loop. After all, if they’re headlining a 500-person room, then they obviously have fans.

+10 Things Artists Often Overlook

5. Be Strategic

Think of all the next level venues in your area. If you’re used to playing 100-seaters, the 300 and 500-seaters are where you need to be looking for opening gigs. You live in Philly and play Tin Angel and Milkboy often, and have a strong presence in the city? Start reaching out to Ardmore Music Hall, World Cafe Live, and Sellersville Theater for good opener spots. They are your key to bigger and better shows that offer more exposure by way of social media promo and day-of audience.

6. Pay Attention

Know who is coming into town. The best way to do this is to bookmark all the venues you want to get into. Visit their calendars monthly to see which artist and bands have been added to their calendars. Even if you don’t recognize some people on the calendar (as we mentioned above), visit their website, listen to their music, watch a few of their videos, and determine if you’re a good match for the show. If you find an artist you would like to open for, check to see if they have an opener listed already. If they don’t, then reach out to the venue. DO NOT reach out if they already have an opener listed for the artist you were eyeing. You’re wasting your time, wasting their time, and proving that you didn’t do your research. Talent buyers’ inboxes are flooded. Don’t give them a reason to ignore you.

7. Be Patient

Pitch yourself several months out. Give the talent buyer time to get back to you. Remember that most national touring acts require approval from management before they will allow you to come on as support. This means the venue’s talent buyer has to contact the bands management to ask if they’re ok with you opening for them. It can take time. Also sometimes it can pay off to pitch yourself as an opener for a band whose show is only a few weeks away. If there is still no opener this late in the game, your chances of getting the spot could be high. But earlier is better.

+5 Ways to Impress Venue Bookers and Get More Gigs


Eventually the bigger the opportunities are, the easier things will fall into place. You can build momentum off of one show and use it to help you get other shows. Ultimately the goal is tour support – hitting the road with a larger band and being their opener in every city they’re in. This usually comes much later, and especially with a booking agent and management in place. But when that happens, you will already have a resume full of artists you have opened for…and that will be a huge selling point!”

Ellefson Coffee Company releases KENYA THRASH

EllefsonEllefson Coffee Co, the premium coffee brand of java connoisseur, Author, and Rock Star David Ellefson of Megadeth, has officially unleashed it’s second blend KENYA THRASH. Packaged in a distinctive red metallic bag, Kenya Thrash is a bold high-octane blend of 90% Kenya-Kichwa Arabica Beans, and 10% India Robusta, roasted with a kick, for a high blend of flavor and function. An “Earthy and Savory” blend, with distinct notes of Grapefruit and Black Pepper, Kenya Thrash is a guaranteed wake up call to body, mind, AND tastebuds.

“Thrash” is the follow-up to ROAST IN PEACE, the highly celebrated original Dark Roast Blend, small-batch roasted from 100% Brazilian Arabica, with distinctive notes of “Chocalate, Dark Caramel, and Roasted Nuts”, already receiving high praise from coffee lovers and media alike. With features on major web outlets like Blabbermouth, Brave Words, a segment with Ellefson on Anthrax drummer Charlie Benante’s Coffee podcast, and a feature in the July issue of REVOLVER MAGAZINE, and high profile artists like Hellyeah, Sevendust and Lamb of God publicly singing it’s praises, Roast In Peace has already become a staple in the mugs of the Rock N’ Roll elite.

But, says Ellefson, ROAST IN PEACE is more than just a distinctive coffee offering, but also a mission statement.

“My love for coffee has accompanied me around the world for my entire musical career. Just like the spirit of a culture or the melody of a song, the enjoyment of coffee brings people together and creates harmony among us. The beans in this bag are traceable to their global origin and exemplify the spirit and culture of the people who grew them.”

“It is my aim to bring this roast to our tables and awake our taste buds, fire up our rock n roll spirits and continue the global fellowship of music, art and coffee. May you, Roast in Peace!”

Ellefson Coffee Co blends are artfully small batch roasted by Parliament Coffee Roasters, and the blends hand picked by Ellefson himself. Both blends are available in 12 OZ Whole Bean (or Ground) bags directly from

For More Information: |

YELLOWCARD Announce Last Album and Final World Tour

YellowCard“When saying farewell, it is hard to know where to start, especially when there are so many reasons not to say it, but the time has come to share this news,” said YELLOWCARD in a unified statement. “After countless discussions and months of thought, we have decided that it is time for Yellowcard to come to an end. This will be our last album and our final world tour.”

With this statement, YELLOWCARD have announced that the band will be releasing their final self-titled album on September 30, 2016 on Hopeless Records and embark on “The Final World Tour”, kicking off on October 6 in San Antonio, TX. “We wanted to have the chance to share our farewell with as many fans around the world as we could, and now is the right time to do just that.”

YELLOWCARD was a very personal journey for the band that was self-produced by Ryan Key and guitarist Ryan Mendez with long-time ally and close friend Neal Avron close by as Executive Producer. “The motivation behind this was to make sure these songs came from a place that was deeply rooted in us,” they explain about taking the reins and crafting it from top to bottom. “We wanted to push ourselves to create a lasting finale for this incredible story on our own. It is also why we chose to self-title the album. We were lucky to still have our friend and mentor, Neal Avron, on board as Executive Producer. We’ve made one of the strongest records of our career and a fitting final creative piece.”

Pre-orders for YELLOWCARD begin today at which includes an instant download of the opening track “Rest in Peace”. Pre-sale VIP packages for the tour are also available now. Public on sale will begin June 28th.

As the band spends their summer on the Vans Warped Tour before launching into their final stretch, they are especially appreciative to the fans that have been there every step of the way. “We will be forever grateful to Yellowcard fans all over the world for the opportunities you have given us. We have played shows for nearly two decades on six continents and had the chance to keep recording the music we love year after year. While it is with sadness that we say goodbye, it is with gratitude and amazement that we look back on a career we can be proud of, and were so very lucky to have had.”

YELLOWCARD will be released on September 30, 2016 via Hopeless Records. Yellowcard is Ryan Key (vocals, guitars), Sean Mackin (violins), Ryan Mendez (guitar), and Josh Portman (bass).

Website | Facebook | Twitter


DBWFor Immediate Release:


Phoenix, AZ/Los Angeles, CA

Connecticut metal band Dead By Wednesday, currently enjoying the success of their highly praised EMP Label group release The Darkest of Angels, is proud to announce the newest addition to their lineup. With the complexity of their newer sound, they have decided to add a second guitar player to their lineup, that player is none other than Marc Rizzo of Soulfly and Cavelera Conspiracy, and original songwriter / founding member of Ill Nino. A long-time friend and collaborator of DBW’s drummer, Opus, Rizzo is featured on DOA track, “The Surgeon.” He will be writing and recording on their next album, and doing select tours and shows around his Soulfly schedule. Continue reading Marc Rizzo of SOULFLY/ CAVELERA CONSPIRACY joins DEAD BY WEDNESDAY

How to Engage Your Fans

**Guest Post written by Alan VanToai, Co-Founder of 
(turn your existing fans into your Facebook and Twitter ambassadors).

When you think visionary brands, who comes to mind?

Probably Apple, Red Bull, or Nike… right?

Well, how about we add one more to the mix: The Grateful Dead.

Yes, THAT Grateful Dead.

They’re one of the most storied bands over the last 50 years…

But what’s crazier is that they were pioneers not just in music – but also in marketing.

Long before social media or digital marketing ever came into play, they employed viral marketing, social networking, and word-of-mouth marketing. They did the exact opposite of what most bands did at the time, and they had tremendous success.

+5 Ways Bands and Musicians Can Leverage Social Media

The Grateful Dead allowed concert-goers to record and trade concert tapes. Simple, yet it helped them build an influential word-of-mouth fan network powered by free music.

50 years later, the game has changed – but the principles are the same. And word-of-mouth remains one of the most powerful marketing strategies out there.

+10 Steps to Selling Tons More Tickets, Music, and Merchandise

What is Word of Mouth Marketing?

“If people are not talking about you, they are forgetting about you.” – John Moore (marketer for Starbucks and Whole Foods)

Word of mouth marketing is when a fan or customer recommends you to other people and potential fans.

It’s the form of marketing that consumers trust above all else – according to Nielsen, 92% of consumers believe recommendations from friends and family over all forms of advertising.

It worked for Grateful Dead, and that was long before the social reach that social media provides. Now, if you can do word of mouth marketing right, the sky is the limit.

You see, each of your fans, customers, and employees has their own network of friends and followers who see what they post on social media. When you engage these supporters and big fans, you give them a chance to get involved, feel closer to the music, and experience your brand – and this helps you to build a dedicated community that is excited to talk about what YOU’RE doing.

And if you can get them talking, your number of fans and supporters can grow exponentially.

+Grassroots Promotion – How Your Biggest Fans Can Help Promote Your Tour

But how do you get them talking – and more specifically, how do you get them to launch word of mouth marketing campaigns on social media?

How to Engage Your Fans to Launch Word-of-Mouth Marketing Campaigns on Facebook and Twitter

Create Consistent, High Quality Content

High quality content can mean different things depending on your audience. Basically, it’s content that really interests your audience and compels them to share.

+Constant Creation – Guest Post by Bob Lefsetz

For Buzzfeed, that means click-baity articles like “21 Things You Only Know If You’ve Been Best Friends For 10 Years”.

Whereas, for Entrepreneur, that means deeper articles like “The 3 Decisions That Will Change Your Financial Life”.

Try out some different types of content to figure out what vibes best with your audience (interviews, videos, blogs, music, etc.).

And be consistent. Post at the same days and times each week so fans know what to expect.

+7 Tips to Increase Your Exposure and Potential

Remember, you want your supporters to share this content, so you have to think about what makes them want to share.

Usually, that means interesting, authentic content that’s relevant to their friends, network, and audience.

Get Creative With Incentives and Think About Motivations

Let’s dive a little deeper into what makes your fans share – this is important.

What’s great is that your fans have something awesome you can leverage: their passion.

When someone falls in love with your brand, they do more than just appreciate it and get pleasure from it. In many ways, they align part of their identity with it.

And you can leverage their passion to get them to spread the word about your brand. You give them a chance to talk about something they think is awesome.

That answers one part of the “What’s in it for me?” question.

For some fans, that may be all the motivation they need. But for others, they may need an extra push. That’s where incentives come into play.

Here are some great incentives to motivate fans to spread the word about you on social media:

(-) Reward them for sharing.

When rewarding fans, you should strike a balance between short term and long term sharing.

You can even break it down to a per-post-basis and a monthly basis. As a reward for sharing one post, maybe you can give them a shout out on Twitter, or send them stickers or other swag.

Then, at the end of the month, you can reward those fans who shared the most with bigger gifts, like gift cards or dinner with the artist.

The key is to make them feel more connected than just a normal attendee – like they’re a part of something bigger.

+How to Make Your Audience Love You!

(-) Recognition.

Show your biggest fans some love. If they’re making a big impact and spreading the word, give the occasional fan feature, and show them some individual attention. This will motivate them to keep sharing on an even larger scale.

(-) Community.

When I used to promote at EDM and jam band festivals, I loved the shows and the music, but it was more than that. Being a fan was part of who I was. I aligned myself with the community and I loved spreading the word.

The community was such a big factor for me, and it’s the same with your audience. It makes people feel like they have a stake in your brand – when you have success, they have success. And that makes them want to spread the word even more.

Engage Your Fans

Now that you know how to motivate your fans to launch word-of-mouth marketing campaigns, you still have one more step:

Make it as easy as possible for them to share.

To do that, you need to actively engage them. Here’s how you can do that:

(-) Email your fans and invite them to share your post.

Whenever you have new content, send an email and make it easy for fans to share your post with one click. The less hoops they have to jump through, the better.

+6 ways to persuade people to sign up for your band’s email newsletter

(-) Start a Facebook group.

This group will represent your community. In the description, explain that it is the official place for your fans, friends, and supporters to discuss your brand, interact with each other, and get new content. Share your new posts in this group.

(-) Respond to @Mentions and Retweets.

Twitter is all about connections and conversations. So, respond to all your fans and show them that you want to engage and get to know them.

(-) Create a Content Sharing Schedule

You should be posting something on social media every day. A schedule could look something like:

Monday – Share blog content on Facebook and Twitter

Tuesday – Post an inspiring/cool/funny quote

Wednesday – Ask a question to your audience

+The New Music & Entertainment Business: Easier Than You Think?

(-) Consider a Social Media Word of Mouth Marketing Platform.

When you’re just getting started, you can use free tools like Mailchimp and Facebook effectively. But as you grow, you’ll want to consider a social media word of mouth marketing platform like our own (CrewFire).

A tool like Crewfire will help you reach more fans on Facebook and Twitter by turning your existing fans into your social media ambassadors.

Learn more and request an invite here:


Word-of-Mouth Marketing can add viral potential to your brand and help you exponentially grow your audience.

Get it right, and you’ll not only give yourself a strong platform to market your band, company, or brand – but you’ll also give your biggest fans and customers a chance to get closer to the music, experience, and identity that they love.

The Tyranny of the Primal Ear

Written by: indieonthemove
Posted: 06/06/2016 10:05 am

**Guest Post by Bret Alexander of The Badlees and Saturation Acres.

“Here’s a Catch-22. Old people love to give advice. I am not sure why. For the most part, young people do not dig receiving it. This is unfortunate from both sides. Grandpa likes to believe he has figured everything out after all those trips around the sun. In other words, he is set in his ways. From the other perspective, Junior thinks Grandpa is full of it and all of his old school wisdom does not apply in the brave new world. In other words, Junior is an idiot.

I try my best to not just give advice here. There is so much of that out there. I try and give a few unique perspectives of being a musician that perhaps you haven’t thought of yet. Timeless stuff that doesn’t change. Hopefully, I am getting that right form time to time.

Over the past few months, I have written several entries about diversification in the music business. You have to be able to do it all to keep your calendar full. Write, play, record, teach, etc, etc…… it takes a wide array of skills to fill your calendar these days.

+The Real Gig: A Musician’s Guide to the Universe

But here is the rub: Once the calendar is full, that’s when the real soul searching begins. Ironically, the real gold is in being a samurai at something. That’s how you get to the next level. A master of one, not a master of none.

Most people who are fans of your work can explain your appeal in one sentence. If they can’t, you have work to do. Of course, we are all incredibly complicated people. It would take dozens of adjectives to fully describe us. But the core of our appeal can be summed up in just a few words. Try it with some of the artists you love. It works.

No one wants to hear that. Because what most musicians want most likely does not line up with what they are. Or at least, what a person truly excels at does not encompass everything that person wants to be or do. To put it another way, sooner or later you have to get over your own bullshit and use the right hand God gave you. Put away all the fancy stuff Mr. Renaissance Man and focus on what you are good at.

+Musicians: “What You Need to Know”

You can do it all, for sure. But eventually you run out of the most valuable commodity of all:


So, at that point you have to decide what to do. Sure, you can find a YouTube video and figure out how to fix your own car. But is it worth the time it takes? Or, do you take it to your samurai mechanic and pay him to do it? Thus, in some small way, allowing him to continue with his samurai mechanic ways?

Because eventually, if you stubbornly cling to the notion that you can do it all, you will be so overwhelmed with the details that you won’t have the time to put into the thing you are truly gifted at. Your ego will kill you. Or at least you will find yourself spending less and less time on your best abilities. And somewhere out there is a guy with the same talent as you(maybe less) that is going to pass you by simply because he had the good sense to lighten his load and leave a few things behind.

It’s kind of like a DIY version of The Peter Principle. You do such a good job doing everything that you are ok at that there is no time left to do what you are great at. You have risen to your greatest level of do-it -yourself inefficiency.

+Do It Your Fucking Self…the blog

At that point son, you are caught. You have to put a few things down if you want to go forward. To paraphrase Tim Burton in Big Fish, “The biggest fish in the river gets that way by not being caught.” Eventually you have to pick and choose which morsels to go after. Or you will end up with the rank and file of the mediocre and overextended……. In full control of every aspect of your career but overwhelmed with the details of a million little projects. You will be suffering anonymously with the rest of the burned out musicians who tried to do it all and ran out of time.

You spent so much time building a deck on the house and fixing the pipes and laying tile and working on the furnace etc, etc that you failed to realize that you could have built skyscrapers.

I know this because I have done it. But I’m getting better…

But all of this begs the question: “What do I focus on then?”

+10 Things Artists Often Overlook

Read on, comrades.

My wife and I often sit up late at night and listen to music. We mix in the classics, current stuff, and also tracks I have written or produced. A concept we talk about often is the notion of “The Primal Ear”. In other words, music you connect with on a primal level without really understanding why. Music is one of the rare art forms that can move you to tears without any logical reason. You can listen to Verdi’s “Requiem” and cry like a baby without knowing anything about orchestral music or understanding one word of the language. It’s powerful stuff.

The Primal Ear is difficult to understand. It is unforgiving. It doesn’t care about your opinions, needs, or wants. It loves what it loves. It gives the thumbs up to Bob Dylan’s “Simple Twist Of Fate” but throws up when it hears a classically trained singer who graduated from Julliard. It heard 2000 country singers over the years, all very similar on the surface, but it decided Johnny Cash (a man who could barely sing) is its favorite by far.

Why? I can’t say I know. But if you want to know where to put the lion’s share of your energies? Go ask The Primal Ear.

No one truly knows The Primal Ear. It cannot be bought. It wants what it wants. But at some point you need to listen to it. Where is your strength? Is it as a writer? Or a guitar player? Or a singer? Or a producer? You can talk to 10 of your colleagues and probably get a good idea of where your true ability lies. Chances are, you already know. You just don’t want to admit it.

+“Song Power” – The Importance of Good Songwriting

Sometimes the talent you possess that connects with everyone is not even the thing you work hardest at. The author of “Jaws” Peter Benchley once said, “It took me fifteen years to discover that I had no talent for writing, but I couldn’t give it up because by that time I was too famous…”

Whatever talent you possess that excites The Primal Ear is your ticket to bigger and better things. The more time you can focus on that specific talent, the more progress you will make on a bigger scale. Unfortunately, musicians do not listen. I have seen so many bands with one really good writer in the group but everyone demanded democracy so they ended up with bunches of lowest common denominator music. There are so many musicians that try to make their own records at home by themselves and screw it all up. The end result is average at best. There are many, many examples of these transgressions.

+The 5 Types Of Studio Time

The Primal Ear does not care about the average Joe crying for democracy or poor sap complaining that he wanted to do things right but he didn’t because of his circumstances.

The Primal Ear is a tyrant. Ignore him at your own peril. He hates excuses. And you can’t draw a bullseye around the arrow and convince him you are brilliant. He will not feel sorry for you. Ever.

He knows better.

However, when he gives you a stamp of approval please take it to heart. In the movie “Creed”, Rocky put Adonis Creed in front of a mirror and said “There is the toughest opponent you will ever fight.” I believe that to be true as well.

As a musician, if you can master yourself and your own bullshit you can reach your full potential. Being a Jack Of All Trades is a necessity for survival. No doubt. But specialization and focus is the key to excellence. And that quest never ends.

+Calendar Worship and the Jack of All Trades

So go to the mountain and ask The Primal Ear for some advice. Chances are he will tell you what you already know. What you do with that information is up to you.

But that will make all the difference.”

W T I A Scranton – Elmira The Twin Tiers Best Choice For Hard Rock