Published on September 27th, 2014 | by Dylan Lott0
Moonshot: Megabus Touring
Moonshot thinking involves proposing bold, sometimes radical ideas that can influence an industry or culture. What’s proposed usually isn’t a solid product or idea, but instead more of a line of thinking that should be built upon. Take these kinds of posts lightly but use them to think about what can be done to better your band or brand.
Touring is one of many ways a band can make money. It’s fun but it’s also expensive. Most times, the costs of touring outweigh the revenue, and while a lot of bands aren’t necessarily about money, artists must be self-sustaining.
How many times in the last few weeks have you heard about vans getting broken into? If not, what about vans flipping? Running out of gas? Breaking down?
What if we eliminated the van or vehicle?
Part 1: Planning The Tour
While Megabus was the first to come to mind due to how inexpensive it is, any kind of bus could in theory work. Before you do anything, check the weight limits of bags with the bus. Most systems keep this information readily available on their websites. Oh, don’t worry about all your gear right now. We’ll touch on that in a minute.
Next, we need to route a tour. I won’t really touch into the logistics behind booking a tour, but consider that most Megabus and other charter busses have drop-off’s in the city. I’m from Pittsburgh and ours is within reasonable walking distance to a 400-cap venue. If not, consider using Lyft, Uber, or ZipCar to get to the venue.
Any venue you book should have a good PA system. Subwoofers should be used. A basic PA will not help you. Don’t do these events. Part 2 will explain.
Part 2: Your Gear
Lose your ego.
You may want to tour with 8×12 bass cabs and rack gear galore, but please don’t. Not for this. In fact, we’re going to strip down your rig to its bare essentials.
On tour, you’ll need a few things. First are your actual instruments. One instrument per member, please. Guitar, bass, and even a small keyboard (less than 54 keys) are all good. Drums, however, are a different beast entirely. An electric kit will be necessary. If not, drum gear share will suffice, if you can manage it.
Let us not forget about your tone, and how any of this will make noise (notice I never mentioned heads for cabs or any effects pedals or rack units). There are many options here, but most importantly, we will be going direct. The POD series is very popular, and some even have luck with using their laptops in a live setting (Mac users, check out MainStage 3 by Apple) or their iPhone/iPads. The options are vast and progress over the last few years has jumped by leaps and bounds.
We’re going to fit this all in luggage bags, for reference. Most busses will allow one carry-on bag as well as one stored in a large luggage compartment.
Do you have scrims? Get scrims.
Part 3: Beyond
As I wrote above, this isn’t meant to be a verbatim blueprint to tour. Be smart. If you’re stuck using a van, packing lighter will only help your gas mileage. If you must use a piece of gear that you can’t take on the bus, how can you use it? Think about other options too regarding performance. What are ways that you can incorporate using things you keep on your body (such as a smartphone) to assist your live show?
Bands need to tour smarter. It’s nice to have a huge amp setup for your gig, but when we cover them with scrims anyway, what’s the point? If we can improve on gas mileage, why aren’t we? If we can potentially avoid accidents by letting someone else drive a bus instead of having a tired band member driving all night, why aren’t we?
Have you had any luck with tour hacking? Leave some comments below!