How To Open On Tour For A Major Artist Or Band

How To Open On Tour For A Major Artist Or Band

Written by Jaron Lewis

Congrats! Your band has done a string of gigs in and around your hometown, and you guys have really started packing them in. Your following is stronger than it’s ever been, and that rockstar feeling is infectious. You’ve put in the work, and you and your bandmates are finally ready to strut your stuff on the big stage.

It can seem a bit intimidating to start the journey to larger stages and bigger crowds, but the process is easier than you might think. How do you get a job on tour with a major band?

Promote Yourself And Build A Reputation 

Start with a solid reputation. Your band and their moms may think you’ve got the stuff, but make sure you’ve built up reliable credibility in your town. This is not a part-time job by any means; just getting to this point involves a ton of promotion work.

Until you’re regularly drawing a sold-out crowd at local venues, hold off on going after a major tour. It may not sound like much, but being able to say that your band has been on the local news or radio tends to impress.

Don't Travel Too Far

Traveling across the entire country to open for a big act takes away from your band’s assets (i.e. having some local fame). Wait until a big artist is coming to a local city, then start hounding them to try you out as the opener. The bigger your current performance radius, the more cities you can potentially go to with a major artist.

Ask For The Spot

Like, seriously. Don’t underestimate the value of well-written email to the right person. After you’ve met the above criteria, do a little research on how to best pitch yourself, and take the leap. You will never know if you don’t ask. Venue contacts want to be confident in your ability to get tickets sold.

Enter Contests

Something you may not have thought of: enter any contest you can find. A lot of local radio stations will host music contests for local bands, and winning can help you build a fanbase. Even this, however, usually depends on your prior reputation. Bands who have already started building their own reputation with local gigs have a better chance of benefitting from local contests.


Patience is a virtue. You should be reaching out to venues as soon as you know where an artist is coming and when; there is more red tape with bigger events, which can take time on their end.

This isn’t to say that you should avoid contacting management if the show is only a few weeks out. Getting lucky and catching them last-minute without an opener increases your odds substantially.

Don't Be Too Picky 

If you’re scouring the web looking for opportunities (“major artist looking for opening acts,” “open up for artist 2017,” “opening acts needed 2017”), don’t rule anything out. If your band has a publicist, manager, or any other administrative help, he/she can be a great resource for landing the opportunity of a lifetime.



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