Touring internationally can be one of the best experiences of your life… if you plan it properly. Without enough detailed planning, the whole thing could fall apart and put you in more debt than when you started. That being said, how do you know if it’s the right time to pursue an international tour? How do you get started if it is?
In this post, we’ll cover everything you need to know about going on tour overseas without getting lost in a (possibly) literal jungle.
Things You Need to Know About Touring Internationally:
How to know if you’re ready
Going on tour at all requires having an audience that will show up to your shows. Plain and simple. If you typically only have fans in your local scene, it doesn’t make sense to spend the immense amount of money it takes to tour just to play for empty venues in another country.
That being said, if you have a large following online and you frequently get DM’s and messages like, “Come to Brazil!” or “Please do a show in London!!” that’s a good sign you need to expand beyond the U.S.. Truth be told, you’ll know when the time is right. Your fans will demand it.
How to decide where to tour
How you choose where to tour is monumental in ensuring your overall success. With the help of Spotify and SoundCloud analytics, booking a tour has become almost an exact science. These tools let you see which tracks your audience is listening to the most and where those plays are coming from. So, if you want to optimize the chance of having sold out shows at every venue, gathering this background info will tell you exactly what your audience wants to see more of, so you can perfectly deliver every time.
Check out: How to Book a Tour Using Spotify and Soundcloud Analytics to learn more.
Figure out your passport situation
This should be obvious, considering you need a passport to travel literally anywhere out of the country at all, but many people put this off until the last minute and assume everything will be fine and dandy. Please do not be one of those people.
If you overlook properly securing your passport and making sure it’s all up to date, you could end up planning and booking an entire tour just to get to the airport on the day of and be turned away because of your freakin’ passport. That’s months of wasted time and a ton of hard earned money down the drain. Before you even start planning the tour, get your passport(s) in order.
Find out if you need a work visa
Okay, so technically you could be shady and choose the illegal route here, aka doing gigs and hoping the government doesn’t find out. However, we advise against that for obvious reasons. We understand you may not want to shell out the extra money to pay for a visa, but think about the alternative. Without one, your gear could be confiscated, you’ll be forced to miss tour dates, and you’ll lose way more money than you ever want to lose.
The best thing you can do is research the places you’re planning on going, see what’s legally required of you, and do it. Some places don’t require any documentation, but some do. It’s always better to be safe than sorry (and broke).
If you’re going somewhere like Canada or Mexico, there’s not much to worry about since you can drive you and your equipment however you normally do in whatever vehicle you normally use. However, what if your tour is in France? Or Sweden? This is where your expenses are really going to add up.
Don’t worry, you’ve got some options. In many places, traveling by train is a great option if you travel light and plan on renting all your equipment. However, if you have all your gear in tow, this is no longer an option. In that case, your best bet is to rent a van. Don’t have enough money? Try to borrow a van from a local band in that area or schedule your shows together so you can carpool. Use all the resources available to you.
Additionally, in most european countries, Americans can drive with their American license just fine for short periods of time. However, some places require you to have an International Driving Permit. Again, always do your research.
Some things to remember:
- Many countries have different electricity voltages and outlet plug shapes. Make sure you have adaptors.
- Amps are heavy as shit. Rent them when you get there.
- When renting anything, get multiple quotes to avoid being taken advantage of.
- Bring a physical map (cue shocked gasp) just in case something happens to your smartphone.
- Plan out how payments are going to be allocated between bandmates beforehand to avoid any and all arguments.
When it comes to planning something as big as touring, you can’t be too prepared. Make sure you have back-up plans for your back-up plan. You’ll be saving yourself a lot of stress in the long run if you do.
Yes, touring internationally is a lot of work. Hell, touring anywhere is a lot of work. But going on tour can be the most fun you’ll ever have and it’ll foster amazing memories you’ll cherish forever. You’ll learn a lot and evolve as you go, and that’s the beauty of it.
Be smart, always do your research, and let the good times roll.