Chapter 9

Managing Tour Routing and Budgets

This chapter deals with some of the obstacles you’ll encounter when you’re routing a tour. It may seem a bit complicated at first, but with study and experience you’ll develop the skills you need to master this aspect of being a bandleader. To give you a head start, the last part of this chapter has a five-part step-by-step demonstration of how I put together an imaginary tour. This process illustrates all of the complications that can arise from routing and budgeting a tour – and gives you some of the most common solutions as well.

Tour routing and budgeting directly affect one another in a number of ways. You need to book a lot of gigs to make it worthwhile for you to go on the road. However, traveling from one gig to another costs a lot of money. So, once you decide to book a tour, you need to make sure that you book enough gigs to cover your travel expenses. You’ll want to avoid excessively difficult travel itineraries (because they can exhaust you and your band members and can affect your presentation), but at the same time you need to minimize your days off (because they can weigh down the profitability of your tour). Balancing the routing and budgeting aspects of a tour often seems like a juggling act. Once you have begun the booking process, you’ll find that your tour’s itinerary will take on a life of its own. Establishing total control over the routing process is impossible because too many touring elements are beyond your control.

Troubleshooting Touring Conflicts

Complications generally arise when you start arranging your transportation for your tour-in-progress. This happens because this is the first point where you see how your transportation costs affect your tour’s budget. When you have a reasonable idea of where you’re going to be and when you’re going to be there, you should begin to check into your transportation routing and expenses. I usually find that I am ready to do this approximately two-thirds of the way through the booking process. Sometimes you find that you just “can’t get there from here” or at least can’t get there in time. Sold-out flights, unworkable travel connections, high transportation costs, among other unpredictable factors, will add to your routing problems.

Routing problems occur on every tour. These problems may be caused by:

• disparities among commitment dates of various venues in your tour;

• a need to schedule unexpected last-minute gigs;

• conflicts between travel times and performance times, which are often not known until the tour schedule is relatively complete;

• excessive distances between gigs, which can raise transportation costs;

• too many open dates;

• the fact that other bands are often competing for the same dates, which means that certain venues may wait until the last minute before they commit to a gig.

You can solve routing problems in a number of ways. Which solution you choose will depend upon the individual circumstances of a gig, and perhaps the relationship that you have with your client. For instance, you can:

• change the date of a gig;

• fill in holes in your itinerary by asking your clients for recommendations and then scheduling additional gigs;

• consider alternative forms of transportation, which may have preferable schedules and fares, by contacting a travel agent    or by searching on the Internet;

• negotiate with clients so that they agree to pay for the band’s accommodations for extra days off;

• lower band members’ salaries slightly for a gig or two to bring the budget in line;

• solidify weak gigs that have yet to commit;

• take alternative gigs for a date that may have been canceled.

As you’re finessing the routing of your tour, you may find that you need to call back a few gigs that have confirmed to see if they have the flexibility to move dates around. Plan ahead for the fact that this may happen. When you first contact a venue and set a date, ask your client if the venue has one or two possible alternative dates. Don’t be afraid to ask about changing a date. Experienced clients understand routing problems and will accommodate your request if they can. And besides, you never know, sometimes changing a date at your request also solves a routing problem that the client is having. Clients deal with routing problems on their end as well, and they are often juggling dates. On occasion, a client may even call you to ask if you can change a date. Do your best to help your client out if you can. Cooperation will help you establish a positive reputation in the business and a solid working relationship with the client. When you’re considering swapping dates, keep in mind that gigs with signed contracts can’t be changed.

Some venues are locked into dates that can’t be changed. This is frequently the case with festivals. However, if the festival is a multiday event, the client may be able to juggle the day of your particular concert. Arts presenters, most nonprofits, and concert series that book a year in advance, will not be able to change their dates. Don’t bother to ask. Clubs, hotels, and small concert halls have the most flexibility. If you have a signed contract and the venue has started to advertise your appearance or if a festival or school concert hall has no other available dates and/or booking conflicts are too formidable, you most likely won’t be able to change the date. However, it is always worth a quick call to find out about the possibility of changing a date.

Nothing is more stressful than looking at your tour calendar and seeing too many open stretches of nonworking days in your itinerary. Open dates increase your expenses because you and your band members are forced either to fly home and back again in the middle of your tour or stay out on the road and pay hotels for days on end with no income. If you have no alternative gigs lined up for the dates that are not yet filled, do more venue research. Call your clients for the dates you’ve already booked and ask them to recommend other venues or new leads. Another option is to get in touch with local musicians or radio station disc jockeys in the area for new leads.

It is standard practice, when you’re in the preliminary process of booking a tour, to allocate 30 percent of your tour income toward accommodation and transportation expenses. However, once you start filling in your expense column with the actual accommodation and transportation costs, that allocation can quickly evaporate. In order to avoid this stressful scenario, assume that you are going to stay out on the road through any open dates and estimate $100 per person, per day, for hotels for each open date. Add these expenses to your budget, and then as other gigs confirm (and perhaps also agree to pay for your hotel and travel costs), you can adjust your budget accordingly.

If either you or your travel agent doesn’t have E-mail, print out your itinerary and fax it to your travel agent so the two of you can discuss where you’re going and how you plan to get there. Your agent may have solutions you have not considered. Alternatively, you can save your travel agent a lot of time and yourself a lot of worry about travel schedules and expenses by going on the Internet to do your own research. Almost every airline, railroad company, and car-rental service has a Web site. By checking a few sites you can get reasonable estimates of plane and train schedules and expenses for almost any part of the world. Having this information will make discussions with your travel agent much more efficient. Print out the plane and train schedules you think would work for the segments of the tour you have booked to date and fax them to your travel agent. He or she may be able to find lower prices and special offers that aren’t posted on the Internet.

Expect to have some open dates in your itinerary and plan ahead for them. Negotiate an extra day’s paid hotel, either before or after the gig date, with as many venues as you can. Assure the client that if another date confirms for the open date, you won’t need the extra day’s hotel. If you forget to ask for extra hotel days during negotiations, you’ll have to call your client back to see if he or she is willing and able to help. These kinds of situations may be awkward, but you never know until you ask.

After you’ve made all of the arrangements that you can to save money with your travel and accommodations, if your tour still looks as if it’s going to have a negative balance, try shaving a few dollars from your bandleader’s salary. Check to make sure you haven’t made a mistaken entry into your budget columns. As a last resort, see if taking $25 to $50 per person off a few gigs brings the tour back into the black. If other gigs commit later, you can readjust your salary entries.

Once you’ve completed your initial assessment of your routing consideration, you’ll have to go over your itinerary and assess the viability of each uncommitted gig. Take the weakest gigs off the calendar and budget, and see what the routing and expense picture looks like then. You may be surprised to suddenly see alternative routings you hadn’t previously considered. If this is the case and if you have some flexibility to make routing changes, you’ll have to call some of your committed gigs back to see if they can change their dates for you.

If you’re having trouble getting a confirmation from a client, tell him or her that you’re trying to keep your tour expenses down and that you need an answer by a certain date, or the cost of purchasing tickets for the tour will increase and you might not be able to afford to play the venue. I’ve found that this approach sometimes helps to gently prod my client into making a firm decision. The downside of this strategy is that the contact may say that he or she can’t confirm at that time, and suggest that you book an alternative gig if you can. This can leave you in a position from which you have little leverage to make a counterproposal. In both types of situations the client’s response is usually a good gauge of how solid his or her commitment to you is.

Occasionally you’ll encounter a client who just hates to say no and will keep you hanging. Oftentimes this is an indication that the client has another band in mind for that date and he or she simply hasn’t yet made a decision. The closer you get to the date of the gig the less likely this is to happen – because if your client hasn’t yet made arrangements for another group, he or she will be more anxious to fill the date and will be more willing to commit to you. If you find yourself in this kind of situation, you will have to make a judgment call as to how serious your client is, and how you want to proceed. Your decision may be based on whether or not you have an alternative gig. Ask the client what the odds are that the gig will be confirmed. If you get a positive response and you don’t have an alternative, hold the date. If you don’t get a positive response and you have a solid alternative gig (maybe for a smaller fee), take that one. It’s better to have a definite gig than to hold a date open for an engagement that’s looking shaky or will never happen. If you don’t get a positive response and you have no alternative gig, take the date off the calendar and leave it open. If they call, they call. If they don’t, you won’t have made any decisions based on the gig committing.

Creating Your Tour Calendars

Computer calendars are indispensable for routing tours, checking on open days, logging venue info such as fees, keeping track of event schedules, filing contact information, and readjusting tour dates. Calendars can also be used to note call-back dates, client call-back dates, and dates you expect mailings to be sent or arrive. Calendars are crucial when creating tour budgets and itineraries. When talking to a prospective client, have the calendar program up and running; this way you won’t be hesitant about your tour itinerary and routing.

Keep visual track of a tour’s constantly changing status by highlighting calendar dates using different colors or type, depending on the status of the gig. Enter dates that are definite in red. Enter the dates that you have contacted but are waiting to hear from in blue with a question mark. Dates that are yet to be contacted should be entered in black with a question mark. As soon as the status of a date changes, adjust the calendar and update the budget.

Try to allow no more than one six-hour driving day per week, unless it’s an off day, or after the trip. Three- to four-hour drives per day are reasonable, and not too exhausting. But sometimes you’ll have no choice but to accept some hard travel days.

Once, in the middle of an extensive U.S. tour, I accepted two days of concerts in two different Polish cities. The client made an offer I couldn’t refuse because we had four days open in that part of the tour. We finished a gig in Columbus, Ohio, drove to the airport, flew to Philadelphia, connected with a flight to Warsaw (with a change of planes in Munich), and then drove for three hours from Warsaw to the first gig. The total travel time was eighteen hours. We arrived at the first venue about three hours ahead of the performance time, which meant choosing between eating or catching a nap. I opted for the latter. Upon awakening, I hurriedly showered, shaved, and dressed, getting to the gig just in time to play. I was so tired I could barely lift my hands to the piano, but we made a good presentation anyway. Sometimes, when exhausted by hard traveling, a presentation is all you can do, but if your band has good musical rapport, that aspect alone can carry off a successful performance.

That night we got a decent night’s sleep, drove for three hours back to Warsaw, took a two-hour-long train ride to Krakow, and got to the next location with just enough time to eat and rest a little before the gig. The next day we took a train back to Warsaw, caught a plane to Louisville, Kentucky (by way of Munich and New York), and finished the last two weeks of our U.S. tour. Even though I had arranged a day off for the day after our return to the United States and had managed to book gigs for that next week that only required one to two hours of driving, it still took days for us to recover from that trip.

At the same time that you are booking your tour and drafting your tour calendar, you should also be developing your tour budget. Tour budgets help you to judge the financial status of your tour. For each tour you book, you’ll have to create a separate tour budget. Oftentimes you’ll need to create one or two alternative budgets to test out different ways a tour might look if you add or subtract gigs. Surprisingly, sometimes you will find that it is more profitable not take a certain gig because the salaries, transportation, and housing costs involved with that gig lower your tour’s net income.

When I first started booking my tours, I created my tour budgets using a computer spreadsheet program with linked totals and subtotals that automatically changed as I updated the entries. A spreadsheet is only as good as the person creating it. Incorrect entries and cell links can be entered into any accounting program, no matter how sophisticated it is. It took me quite a few tours to hone my computer skills so that these spreadsheets were completely accurate. One wrong number or entry title can be disastrous, so check, double-check, and triple-check your data.

I recommend the inexpensive software program Quicken Basic by Intuit. You can find out more about this program at Although primarily used for home accounting, Quicken Basic has a checkbook feature that can be easily customized for use with tour budgets. I prefer this program rather than a spreadsheet program because budget entries can be more detailed and calculations are done automatically. Detailed entry titles keep track of various income sources and expenditures. Quicken Basic’s handy report feature also allows you to create an accurate picture of your tour’s financial status. This is helpful for checking the profitability of a tour at any point during the booking process.

Both expenses and income will come your way unexpectedly during every tour, so you’ll need to bring an accounting program with you on the road to update your budget. You can then adjust those entries in your Quicken Basic program when you return. I don’t carry a laptop with me when I’m on tour. Instead I use a digital diary with a spreadsheet program. Although a budget spreadsheet is time-consuming to create, it’s well worth the effort and it’s a good way to double-check your figures and entries.

Whether you use a spreadsheet at home and/or on the road, you can save time by creating a generic budget spreadsheet that has cell links for the income, salaries, and tour expenses and that tallies the totals for each of these categories automatically. This automatic-tally function is especially helpful, because when you add or change an entry, the program changes all of the corresponding figures. (See pages 161, 163, 165, 168, and 172 for examples of a sample tour budget spreadsheet.)

To keep track of how much you are over or under your budget, set up your spreadsheet so that it creates totals for each category as well as a subtotal for the tour balance after the salaries and expenses have been deducted. To get a long-term picture of how your band is doing, you can, at the end of each year, create another spreadsheet to analyze the band’s average daily income and expenses, the average income per type of venue, and your personal and band average yearly income.

This is the information you need to enter into your tour budget spreadsheet:

Dates and City Locations of Gigs: When starting a new budget, key in your first and last dates of a tour, and all the other dates between – regardless of whether they are booked or not. If the tour becomes longer or shorter than originally estimated, it’s easy to adjust your spreadsheet later.

Income from Each Gig: Enter these figures as each gig confirms. If a venue is paying your hotel and/or airfares as part of your total fee, enter the figure as income on the appropriate day and then enter a zero in the appropriate cell in the expenses column. For example, if you’re getting paid $3,000 for a two-day gig and the venue is paying your hotels and transportation, you’ll enter $3,000 in the income column and zeros in the hotel expense column in the cells that correspond with those two days and zeros in the dates of your round-trip airfares.

Grants: Enter any income that the band will receive from support grants in the income column.

Individual Salaries: Enter these figures as soon as each gig confirms. Pay particular attention to your pay schedule to ensure that each person is being paid the correct amount for each type of service (concert, clinic, rehearsal, radio broadcast, etc.). If you want to see how a tour looks if all the gigs you’ve contacted confirm, make a tentative budget by adding in the income and salaries of the unconfirmed gigs. These can be updated as new information comes in.

Total Income: This figure is the total amount of the tour income, plus grants.

Individual Salaries: This figure is the total of each individual’s salary for that tour.

Total Salaries: This figure is the total of all of the individuals’ salaries. This is the figure that is deducted from the total-income figure to get the travel margin.

Agents’ Fees: To make sure you haven’t neglected to enter and deduct these fees from your budget, enter the agent’s name and fee as well as the date of each gig for which the fee is owed in the expense column. Add a final cell for total agents’ fees underneath that section of your expenses.

Advance Deposits: As mentioned above, the full amount of the fee for each gig should be entered in the income column. However, if you accept an advance deposit, you will need to develop a system for notating that a portion of the income for a gig has already been received. This system should be very clear, otherwise, you may forget about the deposit and, while on tour, expect to receive the full fee as it is listed in the income column. One way to notate the receipt of an advance deposit is to deduct the advance deposit from your total income. This second total will reflect the total amount of income that you will receive when you are on the road. You can call this second total something like “road income” to distinguish it from total income. You may also want to highlight the fee for the gig (which will be in the expense column under the appropriate date) in bold – so that you have a visual reminder that this entry involved an advance deposit. Personally, I find the extra level of bookkeeping involved with advance deposits cumbersome and so I make a point of not accepting them.

Travel Margin: This category is optional. This is the figure you get when you subtract the total salaries, and agents’ fees (if applicable) from the total income. This figure lets you know how much of a balance is available for transportation and hotel expenses. If your tour is in good financial shape, this figure will be between 20 and 30 percent of your total income.

Airfares: These figures need to be entered in their own column within the expenses portion of your budget. When the band is traveling together, use city and state abbreviations to notate all flights. This system also works well when personnel that live in differing cities fly to and from the first and last gigs of a tour by themselves. To keep track of how your expenses are going, use any of the many Internet airfare services to get estimates on flight costs. Microsoft’s Expedia Travel Service at daily/home/default.hts and Preview Travel at allow you to get figures for open-jaw tickets. Using these estimates eliminates the need to bother a busy travel agent for tickets you may or may not buy. Actual costs can be reentered at the time the tickets are purchased. Don’t forget – as with all of the expense subcategories – to add a total airfares cell underneath the airfares category.

Baggage Fees: These figures should include the charges for the bass and drums as well as oversize or overweight luggage. Add these costs on the line after each airfare listing. These figures vary unpredictably, and cannot be determined in advance. Some airlines will charge you baggage fees and some will not. It’s always safer to estimate unknown expenses on the high end and enter the inflated fees in your tour budget. Then, while you’re on tour, you can change the figure on your personal organizer and, once you get home, you can reenter the correct figures into your computer spreadsheet program. Once you’ve done a few tours, you’ll have a pretty good idea of what your average baggage fees will be.

Van Rentals: Enter the to and from dates as well as the abbreviations for the areas where you’ll be driving. You can get estimates from the Internet or by calling a rental-car agency’s 1-800 number.

Gas and Tolls: Enter these costs below your van-rental costs column. Map software programs such as Route 66, Delorme, or AAA, which are available on CD-ROM and on the Maps On Us Web site at, can give you reasonable estimates as to how much gas you might use on a driving tour. These resources can be especially handy to check if you’re within your mileage limit allowed by the car-rental agency and how much it could cost you if you go over it.

Trains: These expenses, for the most part, will only occur in Europe. (For more information about European train schedules and Eurailpasses, see pages 208&endash;213.)

Ferries: Call the ferry company to get an estimate of its fees.

Taxis: There may be some situations (as in foreign countries) where the venue will supply most of your local, in-town transportation. In these cases, you’ll only need to use taxis for limited excursions – like getting from the airport to the hotel. Since these expenses are relatively limited, you can usually ballpark these estimates yourself. However, if the band will need to take a longish taxi ride from the airport to the gig, you might ask your gig contact to give you an estimate as to how much the ride might cost.

Transportation Total: This figure is the total of airfares, baggage fees, and all other forms of tour transportation.

Hotels: Add every date where you think you’ll have to pay for your own hotels. Use your collection of hotel rate books, check on the Internet, or call any of the hotel chain 1-800 numbers to estimate your hotel expenses. If you plan on staying in a hotel that is not part of a chain, call your client for the hotel info and then call the hotel to check on its cost. Be sure to include any room taxes in the figure.

Total Hotels: This figure is the sum total of all of the individual hotel expenses. This will change as you work to lower this expense.

Miscellaneous Expenses: You never know what expenses might arise during a tour. It is a good idea to plan for some unexpected expenses. For example, you might need to rent a drum set or bass amp or fix a dent in a rental van.

Tips: These costs will include airport and train station baggage handlers and hotel bellhops. This category is optional and should appear after the miscellaneous expenses category on your spreadsheet.

Total Travel Expenses: The figure is the sum of all your travel and hotel expenses.

Tour Balance: This is the most important figure in a budget. It tells you whether your tour budget is in the red or in the black. If it is in the red, you’re going to have to go back over your figures to see where you can shave any tour expenses. For instance, as previously mentioned, you may find that you have to reduce your own salary, which may mean that you will make less than the other members in your band. As a last resort, you may find that you need to reduce the other band members’ salaries as well in order to bring the budget back into the black. Alternatively, if you’re in the black by a moderate amount, you’ll be able to take a leader’s fee. If this is the case, don’t forget that you have other expenses, such as those incurred running your office and booking your band (telephone bills, computer software purchases, press kits, etc.) that you’ll hope to defray somewhat from a tour that runs into the black.

March West Coast Tour/Budget #5 

Date & Venue Income Sal:You Sal:Joe Sal:John Sal:Jane
1 Seattle 700 200 200 200 200
2 Seattle 700 200 200 200 200
3 Bellingham 800 150 150 150 150
4 Vancouver 2,500 200 200 200 200
5 Vancouver
6 Victoria 1,750 150 150 150 150
7 & 8 Club Gig  1,500 400 400 400 400
8 Clinic, Portland 1,000 200 200 200 200
9 San Francisco 600 200 200 200 200
10 Day Off
11 Hayward 1,000
12 Berkeley 1,500 200 200 200 200
13 Day Off
14 Napa 800 200 200 200 200
15 San Jose 1,500 200 200 200 200
16 Santa Barbara 400 200 200 200 200
17 Redondo Beach 850 200 200 200 200
18 Day Off
19 Los Angeles 3,500 200 200 200 200
20 Los Angeles
21 San Diego 600 200 200 200 200
22 San Diego 600 200 200 200 200
23 Day Off
24 Las Vegas 1,600 300 300 300 300
25 Day Off
26 Day Off
27 Phoenix 2,000 200 200 200 200
28 Albuquerque 1,000 200 200 200 200
29 Santa Fe 1,200 200 200 200 200
30 Day Off
31 Houston 800 200 200 200 200
1 Day Off
2 Fort Worth 800 200 200 200 200
3 Oklahoma City 2,500 300 300 300 300
4 Dallas 1,200 150 150 150 150
5 Dallas 800 200 200 200 200
Total Income 32,200
Individual Salaries 5,550 5,550 5,550 5,550
Total Salaries 22,200



NY&endash;WA, TX&endash;NY 2,000
Bass           100
Portland&endash;Bay Area   500
Bass         50
San Jose&endash;L.A. 240
Bass 50
San Diego&endash;Las Vegas 240
Bass 50
Las Vegas&endash;Phoenix 1,000
Bass 50
Phoenix&endash;Albuquerque 800
Bass 50
Santa Fe&endash;Houston 300
Bass 50
Albuquerque&endash;OK City 1,000
Bass 50
Total Airfares 6,530
Van Rentals
WA 275
Bay Area 300
L.A. 350
TX&endash;OK&endash;TX 350
Gas & Tolls 125
Total Van Rentals 1,400
Misc. Expenses
Taxis   30
Ferrys 105
Total Misc. Expenses 135
3/13 200
3/14 300
3/25 140
3/28 240
4/1 240
4/4 260
Total Hotels 1360


While booking a tour, you are probably going to make at least three tentative budgets – and maybe more if you have to refigure your tour because of cost overruns. If you know that you’re going to have to draft multiple budgets, when you start to enter your budget information, enter the hard or known figures first. For instance, the amounts for income and salaries generally don’t change, unless you need to lower the salaries on some gigs to bring your tour balance into the black. Use this partially drafted tour budget as the starting point for your various tentative budgets. Then, as time progresses, the softer, estimated expenses that you are experimenting with in these tentative budgets, will become harder or actual and you can make the necessary adjustments to your master budget. If a venue agrees to pay for some of your travel or hotel expenses, list those figures both in their proper expense categories as well as in the income category (next to the respective gig). Enter actual airfares as soon as you have the information. It’s the only way to keep track of a tour’s financial status.

Until you have your pay schedule memorized, keep it handy while entering your salary amounts into the tour budget. Pay attention to those days when you’re doing clinics and performances, because when done on the same day the rate is generally slightly less than if the two events were spread out over two days. With a quartet, an extra $50 per musician mistakenly overpaid could cost you $200. Occasionally, when you’re negotiating a college engagement, you may have to throw in a solo clinic to clinch a deal. It is up to you whether you want to pay yourself for these. You can always add the fees to the spreadsheet and, if a tour looks like it’s going into the red, knock a couple of them off to bring a tour’s balance into the black.

Figuring salaries for college residencies of two days or more is more complicated. The band could be working anywhere from two to eight hours a day, as in the case where you’re adjudicating a big-band festival. You’ll have to decide if you are going to pay your musicians for rehearsals with a college band. These situations will be handled on a case-by-case basis, depending on the status of the budget.

For gigs where you’ve negotiated a guarantee and a percentage of the admission fees, enter only the guarantee (in the income column) and the full salaries (in each individual band member’s income column). If you make some money on the percentage, you can add it into your portable spreadsheet later and watch your tour balance increase. However, you don’t want to assume that you’re going to make money and then be caught shortchanged if the gig doesn’t go as well as you had hoped it would.

Keep track of your days off by including each day off in your date and venue column. These should be visual reminders for you that you’ll be incurring accommodation expenses that won’t be paid for by a venue or be deflected by income from a gig. Eliminate them as the days fill in with confirmed gigs. Don’t forget to enter your days off into the hotel expense column, as well. Make separate checklists for the dates and destinations of all the flights to be booked, hotels to be reserved, and vans to be rented, including the driving days per rental segment and the drive time for each trip. Pay attention to those gigs that do and don’t pay for hotels, for gig days as well as for days off. Forgetting three of those days could make as much as a $1,000 difference in the tour balance. Hotels and airport car-rental agencies will add a tax and an airport surcharge to your bill. Ask about the additional charges before entering your transportation figures into the budget spreadsheet. You’d be surprised at how much they can add up at the end of a tour.

You’ll also want to keep tabs on some of the expenses that can vary between the time that you make your tour budget and the time that you actually go on tour. Unless you’ve reserved them in advance, airfares and van-rental rates can vary between the time of your original estimates and the purchase of the tickets or rentals. Hotel rates usually stay the same. The most variable expenses will be gas and other travel expenses – for instance, the extra charges for the bass case and drum set as well as oversize or overweight luggage – and miscellaneous expenses. You won’t have the actual costs for these miscellaneous expenses until you’re on the road. Enter those figures as you go along.

Even though you may have solidified, to the best of your ability, all of the details of a particular tour, once you’re on the road things rarely follow a planned itinerary or budget exactly. For the most part, trouble can be avoided by foreseeing potential problems before they occur. However, no matter how experienced you are, there are always variations in transportation, accommodations, and budgeting.

Don’t be fooled by a tour balance figure that suggests that you’re going to come home with $1,500 more than the other guys. All tour budgets, even the final one that you leave for the road with, are fantasies until the tour is over. Everything costs more than you think it will because stuff happens.

I learned this lesson the hard way. I had a tour balance of $1,500 and was looking forward to having the extra bread to offset my phone bills. We were on a tour of Europe and were doing a week in Italy (starting in Bologna), then on to Cologne, Germany, and London, England. To avoid taking the train around Europe with the damned bass case, our Italian agent sent it from Bologna to our hotel in Rome, the location of our last gig in Italy. Because our rooms were under the name of the club (it was paying for them), the hotel didn’t know the names of the band members and when the bass case arrived the hotel refused responsibility for it and had it sent back to Bologna.

We arrived at the hotel and the case wasn’t there. Also, the person who had refused to accept it was off for a couple of days. We had no idea what had happened to it. Even a trip to the train station gave us no information of its whereabouts. When it came time for us to leave for Cologne, our bassist couldn’t fly without his bass case. So we had to send our bassist, with his bass, by a brutal, twenty-hour train ride (thankfully we had a day off between gigs) in coach class (because it was too late to get any first-class seating), while the drummer and I flew to Cologne with his suitcase.

The agent went back to Bologna to find out what had happened to the case. While we were in Cologne, the agent called to say he found the case and was going to ship it to us by airfreight. However, the airline couldn’t guarantee that the case would get to Cologne in time for our departure to London. Because I was scheduled to do a solo clinic, I sent the bass player down to the airline ticket office and he managed to actually buy a seat on our flight to put his (unprotected) bass in the cabin. This is unheard of these days. Most airlines will not allow a bass in the cabin, but the flight was not full and they probably just wanted to fill another seat. We lucked out. Then I called the agent again. This time the agent told me that, for security reasons, the airline wouldn’t allow the case to go in baggage without someone traveling with it. The upshot of all this was that we had to fly the agent and bass case from Bologna to London.

After paying for shipping the case from Bologna to Rome and back, the bassist’s train ticket from Rome to Cologne, the extra ticket for the bass on the plane from Cologne, the agent’s plane ticket from Bologna to London, and the shipping charge for the case, an airport pickup fee in London for the agent and the case, and the agent’s hotel room in London, that $1,500 disappeared!