Touring the UK? Advice for a foreign band

Hi, I’m from a band from Tallinn, Estonia…and were thinking of touring the UK. I know it’s a newbie question, but im not sure even where to start. If anyone has any pointers or advice for a fresh band out of the stocks. I know there’s a couple of labels that organise tours, but again…i don’t know which ones, i have just heard some do. In any case, all and any information would be warmly welcomed and much appreciated.



Unless they have a guaranteed following, a fan base who they know will come to see them, either don’t come at all or treat it like a holday where they play some gigs during which they might or might not cover their costs.

Toby Carveries are your friend

I wouldn’t bother

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it would probably be easier to stay home and burn a pile of money

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The UK is honestly not worth touring. You’re much, much better off doing mainland Europe and it will probably be more fun. Even UK bands hate touring the UK.


it’s pretty fucked up how true this is

Sometimes pessimism is realism.

Yeah, my advice was (and remains) that they should treat it like a vacation where they play some gigs but expect the trip to cost them some money.

Some labels do organise tours but it is unlikely that they will do this for a band that is unknown to them - so I wouldn’t rely on that avenue. I’d also be wary of it because there are a few shady companies who will be looking to make a tidy profit and screw you over on this sort of thing. First point is, as it’s been mentioned, don’t expect to make any money. Bands who have been touring the UK for years barely make any money…UK shows generally do not pay well at all for bands below the headliners.

Additionally, if you are fresh out the blocks and don’t already have any established links to the UK (either fans, friends or other bands) I think to be honest you may struggle to get gigs at all - with the live music climate how it is at the moment, I think many promoters would be wary of putting on a band from another country without an obvious fanbase.

You may get lucky but I think your best way through is trying to make some contacts first, get people interested in your music in the UK and then see if you can get them to help you. 99% of promoters will ignore emails from bands they haven’t already heard of, sadly, because they get so many of them.

If you want to dm a link to your music I can have a listen and see if I know anyone I can put you in touch with.

When I used to put on gigs it was astounding how many bands from outside the UK would email me thinking that they could tour and make a profit. “No one has heard of you. No one will come and see you.” Although I said it to them in a slightly kinder way.

Agree on one level, but it’s not a surprise really: All over the rest of Europe gigs are in general much better paid (you can actually break even or turn a profit as a touring band), and there is no reason not to assume that it would be the same in the UK.

Having put on hundreds of gigs in the UK myself, I haven’t been able to figure out how promoters in Europe can afford to pay bands better than us. I’ve been to other countries as a DJ and been better treated than I could afford to treat bands playing here. It’s a mystery to me. I wasn’t making huge profits from putting on gigs either…

A lot of venues/promoters get arts funding in Europe I believe, so it removes the risk. Problem is in the UK that promoters don’t often assume the risk themselves - they transfer the risk to the bands, which never seemed fair to me. So often playing shows it would be ‘Ah sorry, we only had 10 pay to get in so I can only afford to give you £4’. So when we promoted shows, we always used to promise fair guarantees. Led to lot of money being pissed away some months, but it always balanced out with the better shows.


your best bet might be to contact bands who sound vaguely similar to your band in the cities in the UK you’re looking to play and ask them if they’d be interested in doing a gig swap

this might be trickier if they aren’t looking to tour europe any time soon but they might also be able to put you in touch with a friendly promoter or two who’d be willing to stick you on first on the bill at one of their shows

as mentioned above you absolutely will lose money on this but if you’re prepared for that and get a few dates sorted you’ll be sure to have a good time regardless

Just looked up the finances of my local venue in Den Haag: subsidised to the tune of 1.4 mln euros (third of total annual income).

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I’ve toured various different countries/continents as headliner and support and honestly the UK is the shits. You’d be better off touring mainland Europe if you haven’t already, you’ll make more cash, be treated better and probably play to more appreciate audiences.

Any band who even bothers coming here to headline without any sort of backing from a label or press or fan base etc I don’t understand.

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But don’t take my word for it, if you wanna do it then do it!

Contact promoters or even booking agents (email someone with a roster similar to your music at an agency like Coda, Primary or X Ray and see if they’re interested) and maybe they can work something out