How a smaller independent artist is touring without going broke

Side Door strives to make the art of live performance more inclusive and accessible to all with a brand-new incentive programme, On The Road with Side Door.

In the past few years, the cost of touring has skyrocketed. Live shows are now less profitable for artists and more expensive for fans than ever. This phenomenon rings especially true for independent artists looking to tour their work without the financial backing of a large record label or sponsorship. 

Side Door is a live music booking platform working to solve this issue by supporting artists and turning any space into a music venue, making it so the art of live performance is more inclusive and accessible to all. 

Founded in 2017 by music industry veteran Laura Simpson and JUNO award-winning musician Dan Mangan, Side Door began with the vision of providing artists with a sustainable revenue stream while fostering a closer connection between people and art in their communities. 

The platform eliminates the gatekeepers, allowing artists to book their own shows in a desired location directly through Side Door’s website. There, artists are connected with ‘hosts’ who transform their spaces into stages across the US and Canada. 

Anyone can sign up as a host by creating a venue profile on the platform. This presents the unique opportunity for any space to be used as a music venue, whether it be a bar, restaurant, home, backyard, rooftop, or theatre. Side Door’s intuitive software connects artists with hosts, and the booking, ticketing, P.R.O.s, and payout process is easy and transparent for both parties. 

This year specifically, Side Door is aiming to assist artists financially through its recently launched incentive programme, ‘On The Road with Side Door.’ The US touring programme is open to artists showcasing at Folk Alliance International in Kansas City and South by Southwest Conference and Festival in Austin. In the months surrounding the events, artists playing ticketed Side Door shows can apply for a $500 (USD) guarantee in addition to the ticket revenue split from the shows. 

“It’s been really cool booking and looking for shows through Side Door. Touring has become quite hard for many artists because of how expensive it is, so it’s awesome that Side Door helps artists,” said poolblood’s Maryam Said, a Toronto indie artist who is using the program to perform in the US.

Side Door co-founder, Laura Simpson. Photo: Lindsay Duncan

For Side Door co-founders, Dan Mangan and Laura Simpson, alleviating some of the financial burden associated with touring costs is a first step toward a future where everyone has the ability to stage their creativity. 

The programme will be accompanied by a panel discussion led by Mangan at South by Southwest (SXSW), a large music, film, and technology festival held annually in Austin. The focus of this year’s panel: ‘How to Tour in 2023 Without Going Broke’ – where artists and fellow industry pros will share their expert insights on the current touring landscape and offer tangible advice on how to successfully grow a fan base on any budget. 

Side Door is part of a larger initiative to nurture a global ecosystem for the performing arts that is equitable, diverse, and inclusive. Allowing independent artists the chance to perform, tour, and curate their own shows evens the playing field and enables talent across all backgrounds to create and share meaningful art. 

If you are interested in using Side Door as an artist or would like to sign up to host artists in your space, visit: