‘But Wait, There’s More!’ – Using Niche Tours To Sell Your Music To Everyone

MMusic is a game of volume – no pun intended. The more fans, the better, and successful artists (usually) need a large fan base to thrive. So, how do we generate buzz, and reach massive amounts of people?

It’s hard to beat personally talking to each fan, and the new music industry affords us the incredible luxury of establishing direct connections with anyone. But, how do we connect with them in the first place, or even let them know of our existence? There’s a lot of music out there, with more flooding the market each day. People are generally quick to like new things, but there’s so many new things it’s easy to get overwhelmed.

Why not give them an extra reason to check out our music, and media a good reason to write about us? Musicians are the purveyors of cool, and the digital age allows for the building of experiences. Here’s an idea to bring the Cool to town, get media exposure, and talk to everyone about our music.

Niche Tours

Do you have lots of interests that don’t have anything to do with music? I do, and on a bad day, I beat myself up over this. “Oh Josh, you’ve gotta focus, man!” I tell myself. I have a lot less of those lately, though, as I’ve discovered a way to harness random interests and hobbies into service of my career goals. Borrowing from physics, I call it my “unification theory.”


Josh Urban. #JURT promo photo

Photo credit: Noah Urban/Mazuzu.com

To quote the kid from the ASDF movies on YouTube, I like trains. I mean, a lot. I’ve alarmed total strangers by breaking off a conversation, and almost running them over to get outside and watch a freight at a railroad crossing. (Hey, it was a stupid conversation, anyway.)

Recently, I decided to combine my love for the rails with music, and I toured by train on the Josh Urban Interactive Rail Tour. Touring by train was fun, and it added an unusual element that piqued people’s interest – it was an extra reason for them to listen to my music, and went beyond a traditional show or concert.


Another thing I enjoy is conversing with people. I’m glad of this genuine like of it, because it also seems to be very helpful in building a network of friends, fans, and industry contacts. I added the interactive element of the tour by stating the fact that “everyone has a story”, and invited everyone to join me in the telling of theirs. I “opened my social media stage” by creating the hashtag #JURT (Josh Urban Rail Tour), and asked people to post their stories, images, and words back to it, where it would be seen by my other friends and fans. It created an inclusive, democratic, and conversational atmosphere – everyone went on tour, and everyone was part of the experience! At the end of the project, I gathered all the Instagram photos tagged with the #JURT label, and created a collage of our view of the world during our tour.

Ask yourself – What am I passionate about? What motivates me? What inspires me? What do I do for fun when I’m not playing music? What do I really care about?

Realizing that your other interests can compliment your music instead of competing with it can be an exciting revelation, indeed! Use them to create an unique experience for your next tour.

Perhaps you’re concerned about global warming, and wish that alternative energy sources would catch on. Why not plan a tour that each concert is powered by wind or solar power?

Maybe sports are your thing. Book a tour of sports venues (it can be as informal as street performance or as high-profile as playing the national anthem before each game in each city.) Imagine the media possibilities, crossover appeal, etc. But, I’m getting ahead of myself.

Excuses, Excuses

As I mentioned, I will talk to anyone and everyone – I just need a reason to strike up a conversation. Wearing an unusual pair of shoes, a goofy hat, or my personal favorite, my Superman shirt, has lead to great talks. It seems that music is similar. People are willing to listen, but again, they like reasons. I found it was much easier to talk to people about the project of the tour and asking them their story than just randomly saying “Hey, I have a new CD!” Of course, the conversation lead to that, but by embarking on an unusual project (a train/social media tour), yet with a universal theme (everyone has a story), it let me talk to anyone and everyone about what I was doing. And speaking of great people to talk to, this brings me to…


The media’s job is to provide the public with stories that resonate. News of our latest album or concert might be rather insignificant for the average reader in another city. Again, our job is to make our music accessible and interesting for them (this lets us convert them into rabid fans!) Simply stating that a product is available, or that it’s good, won’t necessarily catch a random person’s eye, and in turn, a reporter might not be interested in covering it. So – we have to make it interesting. The niche tour ideas outlined above go beyond music, and create an interesting story. Imagine how a reporter’s eyes would light up upon reading this press release:

XYZ Band releases “Disco Stew – a tribute to the 1970’s”, tours by vintage car, wears only vintage clothes, and invites fans to participate in an afro and mullet contest before show at the classic car night. 50% of vinyl album sales will be donated to the local cancer center.”

Talk about a photo op! This is a “groovy” thing – and a reason for people to sit up, pay attention, and ultimately, become your fans. (Bonus points if you can create an experience that spotlights the audience members, and brings them center-stage, assuming they’re willing.)

Ask yourself when crafting your pitch to the media: Why would their readership care about this? They’re writing for people to read, so give them some unusual, interesting, and catchy content to write about.

Bring the cool to town, and create an experience for everyone!

Wrapping up

Niche tours are a fun, creative way to bring your music to new markets. I’m fascinated at the potential for crossover appeal, reaching people in markets that are seemingly unrelated. Humans are a colorful, eclectic species. Use that trait to your advantage, and harness all of your interests to create something truly unique. The entire tour can be an artistic statement, and a great business move, to boot! When it’s all over, and people are asking you how you came up with the idea, you can lean back, wink knowingly, and say “I like trains.”

An invitation

Speaking of tours, I’ll be embarking on another niche tour, and I’d like to invite you along. I’ll be traveling by train again on The Search for Good Tour – finding those who rock the world, and playing in children’s hospitals, cancer centers, veteran’s homes, street corners, and other places that don’t have a lot of music. There’s a lot of bad stuff on the news, so I’m out to find the good in the world. I’m inviting everyone to join me over social media, tagging their findings of people, sights, and sounds that rock the world back to the #JURT hashtag. I’m releasing an album in conjunction with the tour, inspired by the last one. Since “everyone goes on tour”, the album will be a download card in the form of a tour lanyard that says “All Access” on the front, with the code on the back. The tour kicks off May 24th, 2013. I hope you can join me in finding the good in the world! All aboard!

Josh Urban: All Access

Photo credit: Noah Urban/Mazuzu.com

Josh Urban is a one-man music show from Washington, DC. Playing a mix of blues, rock, and pop, Urban engages his audiences from streets to stages with his stories, singing, guitar and energetic personality.

Social Media connections:

Use the hashtag #JURT, or connect at www.JoshUrban.com, Twitter @dontjoshme, Facebook.com/OfficialJosh, Instagram @JoshUrban, Google+ gplus.to/joshurban, Soundcloud.com/JoshUrban