Touring’s Coming Back in 2022, Are We Ready?

keyboardist on stage playing in live band

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Let’s get this out of the way.

After the last couple of years the world has experienced collectively, predicting just about anything is a bad idea. Is touring really going to make a return this year? The answer is complicated, but if you look around, it’s already started.

Yet in some aspects, touring certainly is not going to look, feel, and sound the way it did pre-2020 for many musicians and fans alike.

With both developing artists and established professional bands and musicians planning to get back on the road this year, it’s worth asking if we’re ready for what’s to come in 2022.

You may feel strangely nervous at the idea of getting back on stage again even if you have decades of performance experience under your belt. This might seem irrational, but it’s really not once you consider all the emotional baggage associated with living through the COVID-19 pandemic.

First, there’s the proverbial “dust” to consider, especially if you have experience and haven’t performed in front of other people in a long time. Or, you might have written lots of music during the pandemic and are ready to share it on stage for the first time.

Don’t assume you’re ready to play live without preparation and just fly into it, even if you’re a well-seasoned musician. You don’t want to get into a situation where you’re feeling deeply uncomfortable in your head the entire time.

To stave off nerves, consider playing a couple of low-pressure house shows or even inviting some friends and family members over to watch your next practice. Even livestreaming a couple of songs can help you get back into the groove of playing again in a performance context. Live music is an unpredictable animal, but you can prepare for it to the best of your ability — and taking a gradual approach is a good way to do that.

Then, there’s the emotional aspect of playing live again, and this isn’t something to be ignored. Everyone reading this was a different person in 2019 — we can consider the pandemic and its impacts to the live music industry an extraordinary life-changing event for musicians.

Tours were canceled, livelihoods were lost, and things shifted in unpredictable, excruciating ways for some artists, already struggling to get by. Many will hop on stage night after night in 2022 in an act of joy and relief that things are (hopefully) finally resembling normalcy again, yes, but others will experience serious feelings of grief, sadness, and anxiety playing live again, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

We’re all different people and have had unique experiences during the pandemic, despite going through it collectively.

No matter how you feel touring again, give yourself permission to feel okay with yourself and wherever you’re at. Things may eventually feel normal again but that’s going to take longer for some and shorter for others.

If you’re experiencing some difficult emotions connected to performing in front of other people, and going out on the road again, those feelings will get easier with time.

For now, get your band on the road playing shows in new cities and making new fans across the country like a pro. For tips, tricks, and ideas to help you get on tour faster and smarter, check out Soundfly’s popular free course, Touring on a Shoestring.

Here’s a video from the course called “How to Reach Out to Venues.”

Elijah Fox at the piano

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