The European Dream

Touring overseas

27 September 2014

Many African bands dream of playing in the US or Europe, like many European bands dream of plaing in the US or Africa. It is not an easy road to get there, but once you manage, it is a fantastic experience.

MYA wants to support artists to travel abroad. We are called Manage YOUR Art, because we believe that people should have the resources to manage themselves. The main resource is knowledge, which is why we are building

MYA is not a booking agent or an investor. We simply love to share our knowledge about the music industry to bring good music to other countries so people elsewhere can enjoy the music. We like to get people together to learn about other cultures through collaborations, workshops and performances. So what we offer is knowledge sharing and our network.

It started in 2008. We had great times when BCUC from Soweto (SA) came to The Netherlands 3 years in a row. Every show was special and they build up a nice fanbase in our country. We went on a journey together and learned a lot from each other. It was a life-changing experience and I feel blessed that I have worked with these talented, hard-working and beautiful people. Now BCUC plays primetime at main stages of festivals in South Africa and recently finished their 2nd Spanish tour. All arranged by BCUC themselves! Their music makes me cry, angry, laugh and dance - mixed emotions brought in the most beautiful way. My visits to Soweto are always great; I love to hang out with their friends, eat at Foodzone, talk football, world politics and music, and dance till late.

Kaapstad meets Kytopia was a different experience, but also fantastic. So much good music, lovely people, great live shows and the artists made friends for life. We are looking forward to the next step to see where KMK takes the artists involved.

Sometimes we initiate our own projects and a couple of times we paid the airfare for African bands out of our own pockets which is then (sometimes) earned back through fees for live performances. Unfortunately we did not always earn our investment back, but it was all worth it. We had so much fun and learned so much from our African visitors, who usually stay at our house when they are in The Netherlands. It is an equal relationship, we work on it together and share what we know to make things work.

So MYA is not able to bring bands to Europe, but we can help to find funding, if possible in your own country or continent. The website will give advice on how to write funding applications and will offer a list of funds that support overseas traveling.

Keep in mind that the expense for an overseas trip are high. You need

- airfare (easily €1000 per person; the bigger the band, the more money you need);

- visa;

* to get your visa you need invitation letters, proof of paid accommodation, proof that your food (or per diem/daily allowance) is arranged, and a medical insurance;

- accommodation (€20-50 per person per night. Or try couch surfing or AirBnB for cheaper options);

- food, drink, transport (buses or trains), communication (sim card).

All this needs to covered, either through funding or earning enough money with performances and/or workshops.

But who will book you? It is possible nobody ever heard from you. You are probably unknown, so venue promoters take a big risk because it is very unlikely you sell enough tickets to cover the costs a venue makes to open their doors. This means you might have to invest in promotion to get yourself known. You can do a lot yourself, like posting on Facebook and Twitter, write a good press release, have a biography and some hi resolution pictures. That is a start, but if you want your music to be played on the radio, you need to hire a 'plugger' who can push your music to radio stations. That is easier said than done, because of 2 reasons.

Competition is steep. There are many bands in Europe who also want to play. It is as difficult for a local musician from Amsterdam to get a gig in Holland as it is for other unknown bands. Except that the locals can do it cheaper because they do not to cover all travel expenses and the have the pro that they might bring some family and friends to the gig.

Another challenge is the genre. Do you market your music as world music? Or popular (crossover) music? Do you emphasise you are from Africa? That is good for some international festivals, but in The Netherlands it will stop a lot if people from attending your show. It will attract a certain audience who love everything African (and luckily that group is growing) but some people do expect reet skirts, feathers and (only) djembes when they think of African bands - they think of traditional music and stereotypes. Like we all live in windmills and wear clogs in The Netherlands... ;) MYA wants to show that Africa has a lot more to offer and likes to work with contemporary artists. There is good modern music being made on the African continent and we like to share that with more people. Broaden horizons for the musicians and the audience, which is why festivals with a wide range of music are good places to perform. You play for people who love to hear new fresh sounds, and the promoters have less financial risks because people buy tickets for the whole event.

The Dutch market is small. It is best to focus on more than one country, for example Germany (great reggae scene), UK (big African population), France (only good for French speaking bands), Spain (nice world music festivals), ànd The Netherlands (because we'd love to see you in our country).

By the end of the year, we will have more info in touring overseas on this website. In the meantime, please fill in our survey and we hope to see you in stage in The Netherlands soon.