Is it possible to be successful in music if you don’t tour?

June 10, 2016


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A lot has changed in the music business over the past decade.

Year ago, an artist could write a couple amazing songs. Demo them. Get a manager. Get a record deal. Go into the studio. Record an album. Release singles to radio. Become a huge star and tour the world.

But this is 2016.

Things are different.


From what everyone tells me, fans don’t buy CDs at shows. (Does anyone even press CDs anymore?)

If you’re lucky, a fan will buy your album on iTunes. Or at least a single.

So it begs the question – with album sales dying…and digital sales not making up the difference…can you make money if you don’t tour?


I admit…it’s a loaded question.

But the answer is – yes and no.

I think the #1 way to make money as an artist these days it to play live. After all, fans can’t steal your live show.

Sure, there’s YouTube. And Vine. And Snapchat videos. But nothing beats the experience of seeing an artist live. Raw. In the flesh. Being in the same room and hearing that voice. That amazing voice that you better have these days if you want to become successful.

You can sell merchandise at shows…if you make some cool t-shirts or art or necklaces or whatever other creative merchandise ideas you have.

You can pitch and license your music to film/tv. Maybe get lucky and get a song in a major TV commercial or movie trailer. But that world is more competitive these days than getting to the NBA playoffs.

So, what’s an artist or band to do?





Sure, you need a social media following.

You need followers on Youtube and Twitter and Snapchat and Vine and Facebook likes.

But without killing it live, in your home town, and then other towns, you really aren’t going to make any money or gain fans.

And sure, you can focus on songwriting, producing and recording and write and produce songs and records for other artists.

But is that the same as getting up on stage, singing your own songs and having hundreds (or thousands) of people singing along?

I don’t think so.



Note: If you need help promoting your music via PR or if you need help placing your songs in film/tv, hire us! It’s a relationship business – and with 15+ years of film/tv relationships, we’re really your best bet for getting your music heard by the right people!

Jennifer Yeko
True Talent PR ~ True Talent Management
9663 Santa Monica Blvd. # 320
Beverly Hills, CA 90210

~Artist Management~Music Licensing~Music Publicity

“Anything worthwhile in life requires time, patience, and persistence.”
–Cheryl Richardson



  1. Hey Jen,

    Social media is where it’s at period!

    There are so many revenue streams involved with marketing over twitter, IG, vine, skype, younow, and whatever else.

    Fans will pay top dollar to virtually connect with an artist they love. IE $100 skype call for 15 min.

    Why go out and play on the road for 1000 people over a week when you can get in touch with thousands a day?

    Obviously with a great social media presence you can sell your merch. Which in my opinion sells better than anything else.

    Lets face it, the audience today grew up getting all their entertainment for free(stolen) or leased(netflix). They do not know anything about supporting an artist by paying for their craft.

    The artist literally has to educate their fan base about why they need to buy their songs. But this mostly falls on deaf ears.

    So music is really just a business card and everything else is product to push the band. And hopefully the band has someone smart with them developing their brand.

    Anyway, my two cents as I live with this every day managing music artists and social media stars.

  2. I would agree with James in the sense that there is much to be gained by using social media to connect with fans and potential fans, and even stream live performances.

    Obviously, live performances are still vital to any artist. However, the argument that everyone should tour to make up lost revenue from recorded music sales is somewhat misleading as it doesn’t paint the entire picture.

    With the breakdown of the traditional music industry model, declining record sales affect every facet of an artist’s career. Things like the 360 deal, pay to play, and fewer live music venues, the artist is left with very little income. Record labels are often unwilling to give tour support, making it difficult for artists, especially new ones, to go on those first few tours – that’s all assuming you get signed and aren’t dropped before you can embark on your first tour.

    Often musicians see the “just tour” advice and try to go out and play anywhere and everywhere. It’s not the 1980s anymore, and there is much more competition when it comes to entertainment. I’ve seen way too many artists and bands spend all their money going on tours that bring them little return on investment in either money or new fans.

    Bands have to start touring smart. That means not necessarily playing a dozen shows a month. The reality is, A&R guys aren’t lurking in small clubs anymore (maybe in the major cities) and they aren’t going to sign a band (assuming you even want to get signed) because of how good they are. If you can sell (and preferably are already selling), then that is the priority.

    Each artist or band is different. There is no right or wrong, and it’s a bit silly to see people professing to know all the answers.

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