The internet has been a gateway for musicians, where they can transcend geographical limitations. It poses several unique problems, with artists becoming small fish in a large pond. More time is expected of them regarding online activities and social media. How do you work smarter when expanding? Below, we discuss how to break into a new country as a recording artist.
Know Your Tactics
The worst thing you can do is turn up to a country and just play. You need to know your tactics before you even think of venturing there for live performances, or you could run the risk of wasting time and money.
Start to think about what you want to achieve. Do you want more Spotify streams in the host country? Merchandise sales? Or sell-out gigs? Each will require a different approach and should be looked at individually with its own plan of action. Realistic estimates for a medium-sized band on a month-long tour are upwards of $17,000 alone. It may not be feasible for you to do this at this point in your career, so you may have to consider the digital option.
Crunch the Numbers
The first step is to set aside a budget, no matter how you intend to break into a new country. Even if your campaign is purely online, and you won’t tour, you will need content creation and investment in online ads and targeting. Start by putting a reasonable amount aside that won’t stretch you too much. You can then cross-reference that with how much you intend to make, if anything, in the immediate future from the territory.
Once you have your budget, check if it is the right time, economically, to attempt to break into your selected country. A good way to do this is by checking economic predictions for the country you are visiting using an economic calendar. This will tell you the upcoming economic events from regions you may be touring, which could impact how far your budget goes. If you are based in the US, the DXY is another good place to start. This is a measure of the US dollar’s strength relative to a selected number of foreign currencies. If the dollar is weak, you will be getting much less for your money in those countries and costs will be higher. It may be worth checking other currencies, along with general expenses in the planned sector, and aiming somewhere else.
For example, if it is low against the Euro but strong against the pound, go to the UK instead of France or Germany. Even if you are not in the US, each currency will have an equivalent. It may just be a matter of waiting a few months.
Do the Research
The next step is to do the research and the groundwork. You don’t want to launch a huge campaign, only to find that the country has no interest in what you are doing or the type of music you create. This is not as simple as it sounds.
You may have a Scandinavian-style death metal band and aim it at the obvious market, yet find it saturated. You may go elsewhere and find they have no desire or scene for this music at all. Keep in mind that each country will also have a very different cost of living. Scandinavia, for example, is much more expensive than countries in Eastern Europe. This means your costs can also vary wildly, making it extremely important you check the economic calendar and keep that budget tight.
A good way to handle it is with collaborations. Pick a few artists online from the country you want to break into and do some work together. This advertises you to a new audience and gets you a few fans to test the water. You can even use a similar technique by getting on interviews and podcasts in the desired country.