Reaching out to musicians in the cities you hope to visit: you'll likely get five basic responses.
1) The most common response is no response. This can keep you up at night. (Did I say something wrong? Could I have stated the case better? Did I offend?) But mostly, people are busy and what seems like a simple email response courtesy might actually bring up existential concerns for the person you've written. They might be worried about their own time, energy, money, etc., and crafting a response might seem too much to deal with. So no response. The sting will soften with repeated no responses...just part of the experience...
2) A soft yes. If it's a soft yes, and you have a hard time pinning down specifics, then it's actually a no (at least for this particular go 'round)...it's someone who likes the idea generally, but can't get over the time, energy, money hurdle. It doesn't hurt to try again in the future, but just let it go for this iteration.
3) A soft no. If it's a soft no, ask yourself if it seems like there's any possibility of things coming together. Use your gut; usually it's best to move on.
4) A hard no. This is the worst, but you definitely have your answer. Don't spend any additional time on it; don't revisit it.
5) An enthusiastic yes. This is great, but for a million reasons, the gig/connection/etc. doesn't always materialize. That's okay. Pursue it in the future.
I love touring. You will too, if you enjoy:
- lots of driving/flying/bussing
- not enough sleep
- schlepping gear in and out 4 or more times a day
- adjusting to very, very different stage situations (good sound/bad sound, hot/cold, too small/too big, soundcheck/no soundcheck, uncontrollable hum/feedback/buzz issues)
- putting your comfort aside and giving 100% to your performance 100% of the time
- chatting with people before and after the show
- not having access to a shower every day
Figure out on the front end what sort of sleeping arrangement you'll have for each night. (I do these things: sleep in my car, get a hotel, stay with a friend, in varying proportions. The more stuff you have, the less you'll want to move it, so sleeping in the car at a rest stop or truck stop is something I do the most.) If you want to freewheel it (last minute couch surfing, etc.), plan for that physically, psychologically, as well.
Figure out the money beforehand. Ask for guarantees, or at least confirm how payment works, and get confirmation that you'll receive any money as soon as you finish performing (within reason). You don't want to wait until the last band plays to find out the person responsible for paying has left. And if you're involving other performers, you have to triangulate between the venue and the other musicians. Everyone will have a different comfort level and expectation dealing with money. (And the tour may end up costing you money despite your best efforts; make sure this is okay with you.)
Figure out, or attempt to figure out, who is responsible for promoting a show. Most often it will be up to you. And of course, effort is no indicator of attendance, even if a "famous" musician is on the bill with you. Do your best for 1 audience member or 1,000. It's a big deal they came to see you.
Eat healthily (I bring my own food and a rice cooker and avoid fast food, etc.), drink lots of water, and try to get some exercise. Walking, swimming, yoga, anything. It'll make a difference with all the sitting you'll be doing.
Ask yourself why you want to go on the road. If it's to share your music, have fun, and meet cool people, then green light. All other issues are not as important.