Interview With Marty Frascogna On International Touring

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Marty Frascogna is an entertainment attorney who specializes in indie
level musicians, international expansion, along with international
marketing and promotions.  He is also one of the authors for the much
anticipated book series- “How to Market and Promote Music.”  The first
released in the series is: How to Market and Promote Music in SWEDEN-
which is available HERE (along with info on upcoming titles).  We recently had a good chat with Marty and he gave some wonderful advice on the great adventure of international touring.   


 1. For a band who’s never been out of the US,
what are the immediate concerns that should be addressed before even
considering going?

All paperwork needs to be in order before you ever even consider
stepping on a plane.  Music tours overseas are a far cry from
backpacking Europe after your senior year of high school.  People hate
to hear the word “attorney” because they associate the term with high
cost, but this isn’t necessarily the case.  An attorney who works daily
with international tours will know exactly what paperwork is needed,
work visas, forms, etc…  At the most basic level, make certain you have a
passport.    

2. What kind of booking strategies would suggest for artists who have never done international touring?

Find your market.  The most common misconception in the music industry
is that music is the same no matter where you go.  It isn’t.  Each
country provides their own unique pocket of genres and niches.  The best
strategy is the find the appropriate niche.    

3. What are some things you recommend bringing that most people don’t think about?

Download cards.  The logical thing to haul around in terms of product is
CD’s, but CD’s come with a cost.  Because of the bulk, weight, and
potential dollar amount attached to the product, CD’s can become a
customs nightmare.  Download cards cater to swift travel, and are
actually preferred by many international fans as opposed to CD’s.  

4. Anything you recommend that people keep at home?

Copies of all paperwork.  Each band member should make passport copies,
work visa copies, contract copies, et… and leave it with a family member
or manager.  They will prove essential if anything misplaced abroad.
5. Obviously, international touring can be very expensive.  What are some strategies for patronage and financial help?
Believe
it or not, businesses are eager to provide tour support for musicians
traveling abroad.  The key is to find a realistic partner.  Music
branding and sponsorship provided by companies are projected to increase
substantially in 2011.  Take advantage.

6. Getting loads of
gear out of the country can be a nightmare.  Any advice on how to
minimize gear and how to share/rent what you need?

Check and see if venues you’ve contracted with will be providing
equipment.  Chances are they won’t, but at least check.  Next step,
contact equipment rental companies and receive competitive quotes. 
Lastly, attempt to partner with Peavey, Gibson, Fender, etc.. with one
of their international retailers.  Above all it is essential to
understand equipment is a huge piece of the puzzle when going overseas. 
Wattage can vary and outlets are different so plugging in your favorite
guitar from home could end with busted amp and dead instrument.

7. Clearly, promotion in another country is going to present a whole
different set of issues than promoting at home.  What should artists be
prepared to do in order to make sure they’re not playing to the bar
staff?

Hire a local promoter.  Domestic forms of promotion do not carry across
cultures.  Hanging concert posters may be legal in Austin, TX, but
illegal in Yerevan, Armenia.  Local promoters help with red tape and
local nuances.  However, partner with promoters who have a little skin
in the game as well.  Never pay someone in full to promote international
shows.

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  • http://www.projectarctic.com ARCTIC

    Hmmm. We just returned to Canada from a tour of France and had exactly the opposite experience. At several cities across France, download cards were completely new to the audience, and were regarded with some suspicion and confusion. Even though we explained that the download card gave you access to 18 tracks instead of the 4 on the CD, most people still preferred to buy the physical CD. This actually made our merch sales rather difficult as we’d thought we could rely on download cards.
    After a few shows, we gave up on pushing the cards and just included them for sale with each CD – a far cry from Canada, where we’d tell people “pay what you want” for the download cards and they’d give us twice what they would have paid for the CD.
    So don’t assume that the above is true for all countries. If we hadn’t brought a spindle of CDs “just in case”, we would’ve been stuck for merch sales in most of France.