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PASSPORT REQUIRED: International Touring without a Record Label, Agent or Manager

Presented by "Chicago" Mike Beck

spacerMike's Music and Tour Dates are online at

Touring outside the USA presents daunting logistical challenges, but it can be immensely rewarding -- artistically, professionally and personally.

This workshop examines the nuts-and-bolts of touring internationally, including getting gigs, making contacts, transportation, PA and backline, visas, financial realities of touring overseas, as well as strategies for maximizing your impact before, during and after your tour.

Book Excerpt "PASSPORT REQUIRED" International Touring without a Record Label, Agent or Manager: Chapter 1

Class Outline

International Touring Resources & Tip Sheet


IMPORTANT new visa requirements for Americans traveling to Europe, starting in 2024:



Passport Required: INTERNATIONAL TOURING without a Record Label, Agent or Manager

I. Why go overseas?

II. When should you go? Where should you go?

III. Who should you talk to?

(The art of making international music industry contacts)

IV. Logistics

spacerA. Getting gigs

spacerB. Getting there

spacerC. Getting around

spacerD. Getting by (Where to stay, How to eat!)

spacerE. Communicating ("Parlez-vous Anglais?")

spacerF. Financial realities of touring overseas

spacerG. Visas

V. Maximizing your impact ("Get huge in Holland!")

A. Publicity

B. Radio

C. Music Industry Opportunities

VI. Planning your first international tour

VII. International touring resources for musicians

This workshop is presented by “Chicago” Mike Beck. I’m a full-time touring musician and bandleader with over twenty tours of Europe under my belt. Over the past fifteen years, I’ve played hundreds of shows in Holland, Germany, France, Belgium, Spain, Ireland, Italy, Greece, Switzerland and Luxembourg.


International Touring resources:

International Touring Questionaire
This brief questionaire will help you plan and execute your first international tour, and help you focus on what's most important to you.
Download the International Touring Questionaire PDF


International Touring Resources & Opportunities
Books singer-songwriters for tours and circuits in Northern Europe (Germany and The Netherlands)
Books singer-songwriters for house-concert tours and circuits across Canada

American Voices: American Music Abroad
Books American artists for government-sponsored tours worldwide


Right of Return

Certain nations of the world offer descendants of their citizens and former citizens a "right of return", which in some cases may allow you to obtain a passport issued by that country. For example, Americans with an Irish parent or grandparent can often achieve dual citizenship, which would allow that individual to reside, travel and work anywhere in the European Union without having to obtain a work visa. This article on WikiPedia gives a rundown of which countries throughout the world offer some form of "right of return":

For a first-hand account from a touring artist who exercised his "Right of Return", read Aidan Quinn's essay on the topic by clicking here: "The Very Quick Who, What, Why, When, Where and How of obtaining an Irish Passport".

Aidan tours the world as guitarist-vocalist for Friction Farm, an acoustic duo which also features vocalist-bassist Christine Stay. You can learn more about Friction Farm and check out their music at



Venues / Festivals / Open Mics / Jam Sessions
An online repository of information about gigs, venues, festivals and other performance opportunities worldwide.
Offers a searchable database of performance opportunities and venues around the world. There are a limited number of international opportunities on Sonicbids, though they can be worth a look. Of greater value is their searchable database of artists around the world: Search for artists from the regions in which you wish to tour -- You’ll find that these artists’ tour calendars can be an enormously valuable resource to discover venues and performance opportunities that might fit your plans.
Another great web resource for finding appropriate gigs in various regions around the world. Like Sonicbids, ReverbNation also offers direct submission opportunities to connect with festivals and venues worldwide.

Hemifrån's list of European radio, TV, press and venue links is an incredible resource for those interested in touring Europe. Hemifrån also offers promotion and booking services to touring musicians.



Artist on the Road
For 30 years, Artist on the Road has been supplying backline to artists, bands, venues and festivals all over the Netherlands. They rent a huge variety of instruments (including acoustic guitars), amplifiers, and much more.



Artist on the Road
For 30 years, Artist on the Road has been supplying tour support to artists, bands, venues and festivals all over the Netherlands.

TJ Concerts / Rock 'n Roll Transport
Tour support / tour management / tour vans


The online web calendar management tool for Musicians, Performers, Bands, DJs, Agents, Managers and Venues


TRAVEL - Research
Rome2Rio is an amazing website. Rome2rio searches any city, town, landmark, attraction or address across the globe with thousands of multi-modal routes to easily get you from A to B: Planes, trains, boats, unicycles.
This is the first place I look when researching plane tickets, car rentals and sometimes hotels – Great search flexibility and control, and Kayak aggregates results from several popular travel sites, so can be a great place to start your international tour planning.


TRAVEL - Lodging
Not just a fantastic way to save money when traveling, but also a great way to meet musicians, music lovers and new fans around the world -- A fun, enriching and useful international networking tool, as well as a way to find inexpensive places to stay while touring the planet. It costs nothing to sign up and create a profile, and there is value in doing this sooner than later, even if you don’t plan to use the service for quite some time.
Another useful method of finding lodging around the world. AirBnB often includes many low-budget options as well as unusual and luxury accommodations.

Pasporta Servo
Pasporta Servo” offers speakers of Esperanto access to a directory of hosts from all corners of the globe willing to open their houses to travelers for free. To learn more, read this article from the Wall Street Journal or this article on Wikipedia.
This is the first place I look when researching plane tickets – Great search flexibility and control, and Kayak aggregates results from several popular travel sites, so can be a great place to start your international tour planning. You can also search for hotels and car rentals on Kayak.
Hotwire sometimes offers unbelievable prices on hotels, flights and car rentals, even last minute. Always worth a look, even just to help with price comparisons, when searching for lodging in cities around the globe, and savings on transportation.
Another useful comparison tool when researching prices on flights, lodging, car rental and more. Their “Name Your Own Price” option can sometimes result in incredible savings, though can be a bit of a pain.


TRAVEL - Airfare

In addition to (always the first place I look to get an initial overview to compare flight costs), and, here are some other valuable sites and apps to find inexpensive flights:

For some folks, Momondo is their preferred travel booking / research site.

Hopper's app-based flight searches and predictions help you identify the best prices and the ideal time to purchase your plane tickets.
Kiwi can be a useful tool to find incredibly low airfares between the USA and Europe. They sometimes offer circuitous routing and long layovers, but the savings can sometimes be worth the hassles.


TRAVEL - Automobile Transportation

International Driving Permit
Some countries require that Americans who possess a valid drivers license who wish to drive in that country also carry an International Driving Permit (IDP), which can be obtained through AAA for $20.
 Although most European countries do not require American drivers to have an IDP, according to, the following countries do require International Driving Permits in conjunction with a valid U.S. driver's license: Austria, Bosnia-Herzegovina, Croatia, the Czech Republic, Germany, Greece, Hungary, Italy, Poland, Romania, Slovenia, Slovakia and Spain. states "You might not even be asked for the IDP in these countries, but technically you're required to have one or risk being fined."
 For foreign visitors to the USA, some U.S. states require that foreign drivers carry an International Driving Permit issued in their home country. offers this helpful list of U.S. states that require foreign drivers to carry IDPs. As you can see from the list, 7 states that typically don't require an IDP do require an IDP if the driver's license is not in English.
Renting cars in Europe is often more expensive than in the USA (and gas prices definitely are!), but I’ve rented cars through this site several times.

Car2Go offers short term car rentals / car sharing in cities throughout these European countries: Germany, Spain, Portugal, The Netherlands, Italy, Austria, the U.K. and more.
I LOVE BLABLACAR!!! When it works, it's great -- and it's cheaper than trains, buses, or car rentals. When it doesn't work, it can be a pain in the tuchas, but most of my BlaBlaCar experiences touring in Europe have been awesome.
FlixBus is one way to find inexpensive bus fares throughout Europe. Each country also typically has their own "domestic" bus carriers, so it can help to ask locals for help!


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