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8 Things You Need to Know Before Going on Tour

Touring is an integral part of many musicians’ careers, but it can be more complicated than simply turning up to perform.

Guitar without case balanced on a car's roof top luggage rack.
Top tip, don't transport your instrument like this. Photo: Shutterstock

Here are eight things it’s important to be aware of before you go on tour, and where to find further resources on our website.

1. Have a written contract

Protect yourself against unpaid fees by making sure that your tour or engagement is covered by a written contract.

Using a contract means you’re armed against nasty surprises on the road – such as venues making deductions from your fee for hidden extras like the hire of PA equipment. Why not have it vetted by the MU for free?

2. Research your venues

Putting a tour together? Check out our database of venues that have committed to the principles of ‘Fair Play’, as set out in our Fair Play Guide.

The Fair Play scheme strives to ensure that artists are appropriately and proportionally rewarded for their efforts. Using the venues that are signed up not only means you’re more likely to get a better deal yourself, you’re also supporting the push to improve conditions for everyone.

3. Check your visa/work permit

If you are going abroad, check requirements well ahead of time. And if you’re going to the U.S., find out which kind of visa you’ll need to apply for.

Many acts really have been turned back by immigration services around the world for not having work permits – so make sure you’re sorted!

4. Get insurance

Make sure you're covered for any legal or medical expenses. Also ensure that your free MU instrument and equipment insurance, and PLI are set up.

MU members can access free, worldwide insurance for instruments worth up to £2,000, and discounted insurance for instruments up to £150,000.

5. Make sure your instrument can fly too

Check with your airline ahead of time (ideally before you buy your ticket), or check their policy online by using the International Federation of Musicians (FIM) Airline ‘traffic light’ tool.

Will you be allowed to take your instrument into the cabin? Is there an extra cost for this? In some cases, ground staff and cabin crew may be less aware of their employers’ policies than they should be – so knowing your rights in advance can help.

6. Stay tax savvy

Depending on where you’re playing, you may have to take some steps to avoid being double-taxed on the money you make performing oversees. Read our handy guide to understand the process a little better.

7. Protect yourself

Not all countries have the same standards of health and safety, so you may want to check that your employer has carried out a proper Risk Assessment.

The Risk Assessment is important not just for conditions in your destination country, but for generic touring issues too, such as – travel and rest arrangements, provision of food and liquids, and pollution.

8. Look after your wellbeing

Touring can be stressful and tiring. Simple precautions such as being careful to eat well, stay and active and take breaks can help – but if you are struggling, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help.

Are you a touring musician, but not a member of the MU yet? You can join today and pay only £1 for your first six months – giving you access to benefits such as our contract advisory service and free instrument insurance.


Published: 04/06/2019
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