Choosing the right Concert Tour Operator
In the past many Music Directors have organised their own tours through contacts made over the years on exchanges, etc. However, the days of do-it-yourself are now largely gone due to safety regulations and financial protection.
Employing a tour operator to organise a music tour can often appear to add to the overall cost of the trip. However, the administration time saved in writing emails, making telephone calls, booking transport, accommodation and ferries, not to mention organising concerts, should be borne in mind.
Using a good Concert Tour Operator undoubtedly relieves you of a good deal of stress and anxiety.
So how do you choose the right operator? Apart from the obvious questions about the company’s track record and financially stability, when it comes to concert tours you really do have to check that the company specialises in this field. Does the company have experienced staff? A team of music specialists who understands your musical aspirations, who can advise on venue possibilities, programme content and audience potential is vital.
When taking a concert tour for the first time, knowing what to prepare musically is very important. Talking things over with an experienced musician, who has extensive knowledge, will give you a great deal of confidence.
Where and When to go?
You may already have an idea of where you want to go, but it is as well best to discuss this with us. We will give you advice on this from the outset. The type of group, age range, programme and time of year can affect the success of the tour.
For example, taking a choir with a sacred repertoire to France during Holy Week is not a good idea, as most churches do not permit music leading up to Easter.
Travelling to some major cities, such as Rome or Brussels, to give concerts during August is a waste of time as most of the city’s inhabitants will be away on holiday for the summer!
If you are taking a tour for the first time, it is wise to choose somewhere nearby. Belgium, northern France, Holland or northern Germany are good examples. Once you have been on tour, it will be easier to travel further afield next time, perhaps to Austria, Italy or even USA. Again, remember that we are here to help you decide the best destination for your type of group and that you can use our expertise at anytime.
One of the first things you will want to know is the type of venues in which your orchestra, band or choir will perform. This should be discussed at the early stages of booking. It is imperative that the correct choice of venue is made. There is nothing worse than an orchestra, or a choir, placed in a prestigious venue which is beyond them. The group will find this intimidating and nerve-wracking! Conversely, a Cathedral Choir School will not wish to perform in an outside pavilion.
The appropriate choice of venue can make or break a tour and, therefore, close liaison with your dedicated Concert Tour Organiser and your own Musical Director is strongly recommended.
Announcing your concert
A concert can’t be successful without an audience. All concerts are appropriately publicised by means of poster and leaflet distribution, press releases and inclusion in local ‘what’s on’ guides and online events listings, in conjunction with venue guidelines.
The vast majority of outdoor venues will naturally benefit from excellent footfall anyway, particularly during the summer months and on weekends.
Always include something well-known in the programme. You want to stretch the musicians or singers musically, but keep your audience in mind – they are coming to be entertained!
By way of example, Mozart or Strauss go down really well in Austria. Again we will advise you on this.
Staffing and Support
Enlist help from your colleagues, don’t try and do everything yourself! If you are the Musical Director, you will need to organise the programme. It is a good idea to elect a Tour Administrator to be in charge of liaising with us on passenger lists, payments, meals, excursions, etc. This leaves you free to focus on the musical aspect of your tour.
You may have some potential tour participants who cannot afford to pay the amount for the tour and need financial assistance. You may also want to provide T-shirts or sweatshirts for the tours; programmes may be required; or you may need to buy music. There is a number of ways to increase the money in your coffers by fund-raising events or local sponsorship.
Believe it or not there are still companies out there who are ready to support the Arts! Put together a brief outline of your tour and what you are trying to achieve, then approach local companies who are known to have links with the country in which you plan to tour.
Contact banks in your area – although sometimes unwilling to provide cash, they will occasionally sponsor sweatshirts in exchange for a mention in the programme of the tour. The local Arts Council may provide a grant. You are more likely to get small amounts from a few local companies than a large amount from just one.
As well as trying to obtain sponsorship externally, why not try organising your own fund raising events? A concert or a sponsored “play-in” may well raise substantial sums. Failing all else, try car boot sales, bring-and-buy events, etc.
We will also be able to give you more advice on fund-raising, as well as useful contacts.
Remember that none of this is beyond you. There are hundreds of music groups that go on tour every year and have a great time. Once you have tried it, you will wonder why you have never done it before. Don’t be intimidated by your initial concerns and discuss them with us, we want to provide you with the best possible tour. Use our expertise and don’t be afraid to ask questions. We will always be here to assist and advise.
The thought of undertaking a concert tour may appear daunting, but we are here to help and make it a simple, enjoyable and memorable experience for all involved.