Introducing Metal Festival Tours, a New Promotion Company
Metal Festival Tours was founded in 2017 by Daniel DeFonce and Bryce Lucien after years of working together on branded tours such as Devastation on the Nation and Bloodletting North America. According to their official website, the company’s goal is to build and brand the tours that they create to reach a broader audience by working with companies in and outside of the metal world to sponsor and promote these branded festival tours. Together, DeFonce and Lucien bring decades of collective experience working in the metal world as they get their new venture off the ground.
To get an idea of what Metal Festival Tours is all about we caught up by email with both founders for a quick Q&A. Read our chat below.
To start, who are you guys each as individuals, and how did you come to work together?
Dan: We came to work together back in 2013 when we met at a festival in Tyler, TX that was the biggest mess of a festival that we have ever experienced. It was quite entertaining. But yeah, we just drank all day and had a blast. Shortly after that I started to work with Bryce’s band [Seeker]. So from there the friendship was started, and we learned that we were both on the same page with pretty much everything.
Bryce: That festival was the biggest disaster I’ve ever seen, so getting drunk with Dan was really the highlight. For some reason he liked my band and we’ve been friends ever since. We started working together on tours like Devastation on the Nation in 2015 when I had quit Seeker but still wanted to stay on the road. Like Dan said, we were on exactly the same page as far as what we wanted to do with DOTN and festival tours in general, and over the last few years everything that we’ve been working on has started to turn into something really exciting.
What led you to start Metal Festival Tours?
Dan: For the past couple of years I would go to Bryce for ideas for lineups for Devastation On The Nation and it slowly turned into Bryce and I coming up with everything for that tour. He is also the tour manager. We decided that we should work together on these branded tours after Erik at Unique Leader Records asked me to takeover Bloodletting North America. We wanted to start a company that was in a sense the “mother company” for these branded tours. After coming up with the name (which is pretty generic but makes sense with everything we’re doing), we started to come up with ideas on how to possibly start to brand other tours and create different marketing strategies for them. This is something we wouldn’t do for every tour of ours, but if it makes sense, we will look at doing it. We’re just trying to change things up a bit from 2018 onward; for example, work closely with companies to sponsor these tours, work more closely with the record labels by engaging them to help out with costs for posters and mailing them out to promoters/venues. We did that for Devastation on the Nation and now we’re doing it with Bloodletting North America. All four labels contributed to the costs of printing and shipping the posters. Bryce and I actually packaged them all and shipped them out ourselves.
Bryce: Ultimately we wanted to have a way to put together the sort of tours that we wanted, run them the way that we have always felt tours like this should be run, and push bands that we are excited about and believe in but might not necessarily be given a chance by other agents or managers.
Broadly speaking, what do you see as some problems or inefficiencies in the current touring landscape for metal? What are other tours and/or bands doing wrong, or simply not doing at all?
Dan: We see a lot of tours get rolled out that just have a simple press release sent out and that is the extent of the promo for the tour. We want to create tours and give them proper marketing. I also see a lot of bands barely promoting their upcoming tours. I have gotten on this with a lot of bands through the years. I’ve also always asked the bands I work with to make me an admin on their Facebook pages. I do this so I can make sure the tours that my bands are on are getting promoted properly.
Bryce: I agree with Dan that marketing and promotion for a lot of tours is incredibly lazy. One thing we really try to focus on is creating a memorable brand and marketing it in a way that keeps people engaged and excited about the tour. We also make a conscious effort to put together lineups that are exciting and unique. We really try to pay attention to the way a lineup will play from start to finish. We want to create a diverse and engaging show so the people who attend stay interested the entire time and end up checking out bands that they might not have otherwise.
What does a good tour marketing campaign look like? What does it include?
Both: A good tour marketing campaign should have consistent and engaging social media presence. You have to keep the audience engaged with the tour in the same way you would with a band. We find that adding contests like ticket giveaways, guitar giveaways, etc. help a lot with this. Another huge thing is consistent advertising. Banner ads across all of the major metal news websites and targeted Facebook ads go a long way. Magazine and website features about the bands on the tour are important.
The biggest thing is staying on top of all of this and seeing it through until the tour is over. A lot of tours come out with a big press release, but then you really don’t hear anything else about them until the tour starts. Starting promo months out and not stopping until the last show is over is the only way that you are going to have a consistently successful branded tour.
How do you plan to use the expertise gained through your years working in the metal world to get Metal Festival Tours off the ground?
Dan: We want to mainly focus on growing these branded tours that we currently have (Devastation on the Nation and Bloodletting). With doing that, we look to expand our marketing ideas every year to keep doing more promo for the tours. Getting involved with other companies to sponsor them, add their own promo to it on their side, get them to donate product to do giveaways, and more. Work more closely with the labels to get them more involved with these tours that their bands are on.
Bryce: Over the last few years we have learned so much about how to run tours like this. There is a massive difference in the way that we currently treat promo, sponsorships, tour management, and building lineups compared to in 2015 when we started working together. We feel like we are ready to begin expanding the scope of what we do, and we’re very excited to see what is in store next year.
What do you have planned for 2018? Any big tours you can tell us about?
Dan: We recently announced a Septicflesh and Dark Funeral co-headlining tour with Thy Antichrist as support. The original idea for this tour was to brand it, but with it being so expensive already we were not able to add any other bands. We have an idea for later in 2018 to start a new branded tour based around a specific genre. Aside from that, our lineup is all set for the fourth year of Devastation on the Nation for 2018. We are going with seven bands this time around. The opening slot on the tour is split between two bands. We want to do this to give another opportunity to bands we believe in and love. DOTN 2018 will run roughly from May 25th through June 28th. We have yet to bring the tour to Florida which we will be doing if all goes as planned. It’ll make a stop at a big death metal festival in Northern California as well. We will be starting on the Bloodletting 2018 lineup soon along with another tour idea we have been brainstorming for like a year now.