Where Do Bands Stay On Tour?

person opening hotel room door

As a non-musician, you might be wondering where bands stay whilst they’re on tour. Whilst it’s tempting conjure up images of five star hotels and private jets, you’d be right in thinking this is a far cry from the reality of touring life. 

 

So, where do bands stay on tour? When touring the DIY circuit, bands will either stay at someone’s house (usually a friend, family member or fellow musician) or stay in the venue. itself More established bands will either stay in a hotel, on a tour bus or on a cruise ship. 

 

Keep reading for an in-depth account of where bands stay on tour. 

 

At Someone’s House

This is one of the most-common options for bands on low-budget DIY tours. The house a band stays in will usually be owned/occupied by one of the following people: 

  • A friend/family member: When attempting to grow their following, many bands will book tours in locations where they have friends & family in order to save money and ensure their safety. 
  • A member of another band on the lineup: Many bands on the DIY circuit will participate in something called ‘show-swapping’. This is where one band hosts a hometown show and features a touring band on the lineup, allowing the touring band to stay at their house after the show. The touring band then returns the favor by booking a hometown show of their own. This is a fantastic way for bands to save money whilst simultaneously helping each other out in the industry. 
  • A fan: Whilst this is a less-popular option, many fans are often receptive to letting their favorite bands stay at their house after a show as a token of appreciation. 

 

Pros

  • Affordable: Staying at someone’s house usually means that a band will have somewhere to sleep and shower for free. It’s also common courtesy for the host to provide the band with breakfast the next morning. Similarly, it costs virtually nothing for a band to return the favor and host a touring band in their own home when participating in show swaps. As most bands on the DIY circuit will either break even or lose money on each tour, any opportunity to reduce expenses serves as a huge help. 
  • Safe: Bands will tend to stay at houses with people whom they have a pre-established relationship with. This means they’ll likely be in a safe environment and won’t have the tables turned on them at the last minute. 

Cons

  • Restricting: When a band is really strapped for cash, they might only be able to tour in places where they know they have a house to stay at. This means the band might have to miss out on other touring opportunities or play in less-than-ideal locations. Similarly, bands may have to show-swap with bands who play in a different genre, leading to mismatched lineups. 
  • Poor sleep quality: Most houses won’t have multiple guest rooms, meaning the band will be restricted to either the floor or a couch. This can lead to extremely poor sleep quality, limiting their ability to function over the course of a tour. 

 

Average price: Staying at someone’s house is usually free of charge (with the exception of a round of drinks for the host). 

Ideal for: Bands touring the DIY circuit on a tight budget

 

At The Venue

This is another great (albeit less-popular) option for bands on the DIY circuit. Some venues will feature basic living quarters, often in the form of a small apartment above or below the venue. These types of venues are particularly abundant in Europe, where there’s a strong DIY touring scene. 

 

Pros

  • Affordable: Much like staying at someone’s house, venue owners will often allow a touring band to stay at the premises for free. This can be a huge help for touring bands on a tight budget. 
  • Convenient: When staying at the venue itself, bands won’t be in a rush to pack up their gear and rush off, meaning they can stay and speak to fans after the show. Similarly, they won’t have to spend time trying to find a hotel or someone’s house after the show.

Cons

  • Restricting: Venues with built-in accommodation are few and far-between. If a cash-strapped band is touring an area with no friends or family, their options will be extremely restricted. This may mean they have to play in inconvenient locations or on mismatched lineups. Additionally, venues usually only have enough accommodation for one band. This can be an issue if there are multiple touring bands on the lineup. 
  • Limited facilities: Unlike staying at someone’s house, venue accommodation may not feature a shower or a kitchen. This means the band may have to forego a shower and a hot meal for the convenience of staying at the venue. 

 

Average price: Staying a venue is usually free of charge.

Ideal for: Bands touring the DIY circuit on a tight budget

 

In A Hotel/Hostel

Bands with a little more budget or a larger crew will often stay at either a hotel or a hostel. Most bands who stay at hotels will travel from venue to venue in a van during the day, making hotels/hostels a suitable option for bands who don’t have a busy daytime schedule (press, video shoots etc.)

 

Pros

  • Comfortable: Most hotels/hostels will offer a bed, shower and the opportunity for a hot meal, making it much more comfortable than staying in someone’s house or at a venue. Most hotels/hostels will also offer WiFi, unlike staying at a venue.  
  • Non-restricting: Most towns/cities will have at least one hotel/hostel, meaning the band won’t have to plan their entire touring schedule around their accommodation. 
  • Convenient: Hotels/hostels are perfect for short-term stays. Bands can check in, sleep in a comfortable bed and check out the next day without having to worry about conflicting schedules or locations. 

 

Cons

  • Expensive: Staying at a different hotel every night can add up very quickly. This means a band will have to be pulling in a decent income before they can even think about staying at hotels/hostels on tour. 
  • Inauthentic experience: Many bands tour simply for the experience of either sleeping on someone’s floor or travelling the country on a tour bus. Whilst staying in hotels/hostels is a luxury and convenient option, they drastically take away from the experience of being a touring band. 

 

Average cost: $50-$250 per room, per night.

Ideal for: Established bands with a stable income.

 

On A Tour Bus

Once a band is touring full-time, they’ll almost-always stay on a tour bus for nationwide tours. Tour busses allow a band to sleep on-board and travel overnight, allowing them to participate in press and other related activities during the daytime. It’s also more effective than booking a  handful of separate hotel rooms each night. 

 

Pros

  • Convenient: A standard tour bus sleeps 16 people, which is far more efficient than booking separate hotel rooms each night. As previously mentioned, it also allows the bus to travel from venue to venue overnight, which frees the band up during the daytime. 
  • Comfortable: When staying on a bus, musicians will typically have access to the same facilities that they would in a hotel. 
  • Homely: A band will typically use the same bus for an entire tour, meaning they’ll be able to settle in and treat it like a second home. This can’t be done when staying at a hotel, venue or guest house. 

 

Cons 

  • Expensive: The average tour bus will cost $1500-$2500 per day. Unless a band is pulling in serious income, it simply isn’t an option. 
  • Clashing sleeping schedules: Different crew members will likely have very different sleeping schedules. For example, the bus driver will have to sleep during the daytime in order to drive the bus overnight. Therefore, the band as well as the other crew members may not be able to make full-use of the facilities during the daytime. 

 

Average cost: $1500-$2500 per day. 

Ideal for: Established bands with a stable income.

 

On A Cruise Ship 

Cruise ships are becoming an increasingly-popular travel/accommodation option as it offers a band the chance to work as on-board performers. This can be a great way for a band to earn some extra cash whilst travelling for an overseas tour. Similarly, more-successful musicians who are afraid of flying (such as Travis Barker) will use a cruise ship to tour overseas. 

 

Pros

  • Potential to earn: When staying on a cruise ship, a band can apply for a short-term contract performing covers for guests. Bands who go down this route will usually receive free food & accommodation, allowing them to come away with a profit. This extra income can help small-time musicians fund an overseas tour. 
  • Extra experience: There’s no doubt that performing on a cruise ship provides a small-time touring band with a huge amount of practical experience. A cruse ship may also stop at several other countries en-route to the final destination, allowing the band to experience various different countries and cultures
  • Time off: The average cruise ship gig for a guest band will last between one and two weeks. It’s likely the band will only have to work for a few hours a day, allowing them plenty of time to relax and prepare for the upcoming tour. 
  • Luxury: Guest musicians are often able to make full use of the luxury passenger facilities instead of the more modest crew facilities. 

 

Cons

  • Inefficient: Cruise ship gigs are often few and far-between, meaning a band may will to plan the entire tour around the cruise gig itself. Furthermore, it takes a couple of weeks to complete the cruise, which may be inefficient for bands with a busy touring schedule.
  • Extra work required: In order to obtain work as an on-board cover band, a band will have to devise a 2 hour-long cover set. This can take a substantial amount of effort and can leave the band performing music that they don’t particularly care for.

 

Average cost: $100-$300 per night

Potential earnings: $1000-$2500 per member, per week

Ideal for: Established bands with a fear of flying, or small-time bands looking to earn extra income. 

 

I founded Indie Panda in mid-2018 to help independent musicians organically grow and develop their projects. I specialize in branding, identity, audience/industry engagement and project logistics.

I have a wealth of experience in both classical and popular music. After taking piano and violin lessons as a child, I went on to play first violin in philharmonic, symphonic and chamber orchestras throughout my adolescence. I began playing guitar and writing songs at the age of 13 and have played in a wide range of bands ever since. At the age of 18, my music received airplay for 30 consecutive days on BBC Radio, which led to an 'in-session' event where I performed live on the radio. I went on to earn a Music/Popular Music BA from the University of Liverpool, where I specialized in popular music performance.

I'm passionate about helping other artists realize the full potential of their talents and abilities through a strong work ethic, coherent project identity and a strong logistical foundation.

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