While many of us dream of touring the world, it’s not always clear how to get that started. Or rather, most folks can’t wrap their head around the actual steps that it would take to begin touring around the world for an extended period of time.
During SXSWi I took in a panel on cheap extended world travel. The panelists talked about how they were able to minimize their lives back home and use techniques like affiliate marketing, web programing, Elance, teaching English, etc. to create their desired lifestyles.
With musicians it’s a little different but not that much. Touring the world on an indie budget requires you to think ahead, use social media to make new friends, and shift your thinking from the mainstream “rock star” style tour.
If you’re really serious then a few things need to be established immediately.
- Who is going? – Just you? The whole band? Your mom? Why is your mom going? You should be at least 18.
- How long are you going for? – 3 months? 12 months? 24 months? The rest of your life?
- Where d’ya wanna go? – Europe is expensive, Thailand is cheap, but where is your audience? Or does that even matter… hmm?
- What instruments are you bringing? – Acoustic guitar? MPC? iPhone? An exact replica of Neil Peart’s drum kit with replacement parts? Generally, more shit costs you more money.
- When are you going? – Is this a plan for next year? Do you need to save cash?
Once you know those things you can get to the budgeting of time and money.
If you’re going to be on the road for more than 6 months one idea that was highly recommended during the panel was to sell everything you own. House, furniture, most of your gear, clothes, everything that you will not be taking you should sell. That should give you extra cash flow padding on your tour.
Accommodations can be expensive but with organizations like Couch Surfing you could stay on the cheap.
Both panelists indicated that getting work while in foreign countries has never been easier because of the ubiquity of the internet.
For musicians the internet will be your helping hand in contacting clubs to get bookings/open stages. The actual cash from those type of gigs will be small or non-existent in the beginning, but if you tour a small-ish country and make the right friends the money can only get bigger.
Both of the panelists also subscribed to the idea that when you’re on your own in a new place it can be very artistically inspiring. The time away from all of life’s daily minutiae allows you to focus on your art.
These days recording music requires nothing more than a laptop, that fact paired with life in a cheaper locale, could be a perfect recipe to create the album you’ve always wanted.
Obviously there are a ton of finer details like Visas, prepaid wireless plans, taxes, etc. but touring the world on an indie budget can be done. All you need is a plan.