14 Things US Bands Need to Know About Touring Europe
If your band has never toured across the pond, there are a lot of things to be aware of. From the culture to how you’ll get your gear from venue-to-venue, it’s an entirely new experience.
To make the most of your trip and have a great experience touring Europe, Tour Essentials talked with Krzysztof Paciorek, a seasoned tour manager for the likes of Touche Amore, Julien Baker, mewithoutyou, Full of Hell, Pianos Become the Teeth and more. Here are 14 tips from Krzysztof to prepare for an upcoming European tour.
1. Use Smart Routing
Book it smart! Doesn’t matter if you’re a DIY, mid size or bigger act – make sure routing is reasonable and travel costs not gonna eat your fees.
2. Have a Realistic Budget
When a tour is booked you better budget it right. Only with calculated fees and projected merch income you can start working on everything else. Try to adjust your production costs to projected income. Having a well-projected budget will help with easy settlement when your tour ends.
3. Plan Your Transportation
Post-COVID Europe is a whole new reality now. Since last summer, the industry has suffered a shortage of tour vehicles and drivers. Therefore, it’s important to pre-book accurate vehicles with experienced drivers according to your needs at least 6 months ahead.
If you can’t afford a bus, go for a sprinter with trailer. Try to avoid insanely cheap vehicles and drivers. Potential savings of a couple hundred dollars might be tempting, but old and unmaintained vans along with novice drivers can turn your tour into a true nightmare that will impact your performance and well-being on the road.
Book only trusted companies and don’t get mad if it sounds expensive – your safety on the road and smooth travels are the most vital part of tour logistics.
4. Hire a Tour Manager
If you decide to go with a European tour manager, please ask your friends’ bands, your manager or booking agent for recommendations. If you pick one – trust his experience and his knowledge. A good tour manager will be your guide amongst foreign lands full of different languages, cultures and different communication. Even if we speak euro English and we might sound angry – we’re not. Trust us, we know how things work here.
5. Backline Rental
There are plenty of backline companies in Europe. From high-end massive companies to smaller DIY establishments, most of them work well. When you choose a package tour – try to combine rental with other acts from your bill and share gear if possible. This will save you some money and trailer space / weight.
6. Use a Card Reader for Merch
COVID turned many European countries into almost cashless territories. It’s much easier to have a card reader knowing that most showgoers won’t be carrying cash. It’s also convienient when you don’t have to carry all the merch cash with you.
7. Watch Your Valuables
Never leave valuable things in your van when it’s not in a secure parking area. The last thing you want to experience when far from home is getting robbed in a foreign land and dealing with local police. Lock your trailer when it’s not in use and always keep the van / bus locked.
8. ATA Carnet
Entering UK after Brexit has become more tricky when it comes to gear. Make sure you have US carnet for gear you’re flying in with and for your European backline. True, it’s an additional cost and getting stamped at customs takes some time, but it protects you from all the potential issues that might be caused with importing undeclared gear.
Make sure everyone on your team is on the same page regarding logistics, financials and their responsibilities. Don’t be afraid to ask for help if you have any doubts or questions. Try to avoid passive aggressive language too. If you’re not feeling well, share it with your tour mates.
10. Culture Barriers
Mainland Europe might be for US bands either a land of lakdasd or a true nightmare. You won’t enjoy it until you won’t embrace it with it’s all its pros and cons. It’s a different land, we speak different languages and we’re strangely honest. It may be shocking at the beginning of the tour, but you’ll be used to it by the end of it.
11. Don’t Get In Trouble with Law Enforcement
It might be obvious, but avoid getting in any trouble. Drug enforcement laws vary in each country. Make sure you don’t have any substances while crossing borders and it’s best to avoid questionable people. Whatever you do, don’t get arrested.
Get covered with extra insurance for the time you will be staying in Europe. You never know what could happen and it’s best to be prepared.
13. Remember to Be a Tourist
Try to get to see all the cool things and ask questions about countries you’re visiting. There’s lots of interesting places, people and history in Europe. Whether it’s your first time in Europe or you’re in a tenured touring band, there’s still a lot of great stuff to see.
14. Treat Venues with Respect
Be kind to a local venue’s crew and treat the venue with respect. You might be coming back to Europe more often and you want to be remembered as a nice group of people. There are a limited number of venues across Europe and it’s best to maintain positive relationships with them.