The rush of adrenaline from playing a show is still fresh as the venue owner presents you with a wad of cash. That feeling disappears quickly, though, as you hand over your money…to a hotel. Or maybe your hard earned dough fits snug in your back pocket while you try to catch some z’s on the floor of your van. Rock and roll all night and party every day, right? If you have ever been on tour, it may seem more like find somewhere cheap to stay at night, and scrape together money to pay for it every day. You’re not alone; this lifestyle is routine for thousands of musicians all over the world. What if these musicians, their fans, and kind people in general opened their homes to you? Thanks to the following list of websites, musicians everywhere can sleep soundly on a friendly stranger’s couch. And as an added bonus, you may even make some friends along the way; you’ll be thankful for their insight on playing local venues, suggestions of great places to eat, and the connections you build for future tours.
1) Better Than The Van This is the top website for musicians looking for free places to stay. The site was started in 2008 by musicians Scott Miller and Todd Hansen, who geared it toward touring artists. Its community spans the United States, neighboring Canada, and all of Europe. BTTV is free to join, and it’s simple to create a band profile, page for your venue, or personal profile for your couch. Many of the people who offer their homes are musicians themselves; they understand certain needs, like practicing your set before a big show, and can give advice on dealing with local venues.
Noteworthy feature: Better Than The Van has partnered with Bands in Town to automatically display tour dates on your band page. It will also send notifications to hosts in each city of your tour, letting them know you’ll be rolling through and looking for places to stay. For more information, check out this YouTube video that explains how it works.
2) CouchSurfing: Traveling Bands and Musicians Used by travelers around the world, CouchSurfing has pages just for traveling artists and musicians. I would suggest looking through the music categories first, as some users on CouchSurfing may not be open to hosting a five-member band and their equipment.
Noteworthy feature: CouchSurfing has a page where users can post special events in their area. It’s a great place to let people know you’ll be playing a show near them, and also a way for you to explore what that city has to offer.
3) Tripping This site is used mainly by travelers looking to immerse themselves in other cultures, but it does offer different categories of music networks. Tripping is a stickler for safety; every user is required to participate in a face-to-face video call where they identify themselves using a passport and proof of address, which Tripping uses to validate the user.
Noteworthy feature: Tripping’s Hosting Request Process keeps track of the dates you’ll be traveling and the dates of each host’s accommodations, making an organized calendar in its database.
4) Hospitality Club One of the first hospitality exchange websites, The Hospitality Club offers hosts in more than 200 countries around the world. All details of the accommodations are agreed upon beforehand: if there is an open-fridge policy, the general rules of the host’s home, and other conditions pertinent to the stay.
Noteworthy feature: The Hospitality Club provides an area on users’ profiles where those who have had contact with them can leave comments and references. This is helpful when looking for somewhere to stay; you will know if your touring lifestyle is compatible with each host’s.
5) Stay4Free Stay4Free allows users to create distinct types of profiles, letting hosts know exactly what you need: looking for free accommodations, or looking for free accommodations and willing to receive guests. If you just need somewhere to crash for the night while on tour, the free accommodation profile is for you. You may also consider hosting a touring musician when you are home.