The Small-Town Touring Boom Is Coming

Everybody’s hungry for live music, and smaller concert scenes stand to benefit from the stiff competition for tour dates.

After 16 months of minimal in-person shows, live music is set to return in a big way this summer. Though there’s been a flurry of tour announcements in recent weeks, the number of musicians who can immediately go on the road will be limited by a practical reality: there are only so many venues, and they have a finite number of dates to book. Throughout the pandemic, some promoters and booking agents have rescheduled tours again and again, while others have waited out the uncertainty of changing restrictions. Now, many acts are looking a year or more ahead as they lock in itineraries for long-delayed road trips to support albums released even before the pandemic. Gigs in large cities are the primary goal for most national and international artists, but as open dates quickly fill up, markets like Scranton, Pennsylvania; Northampton, Massachusetts; or Akron, Ohio—towns within easy reach of big cities—stand to play a key role in keeping tours on track.

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