While we here at BandsOnABudget.com are based out of the United States we, on occasion, work with artists visiting from Canada, Mexico, Europe, and other International points. When visiting you may encounter obstacles such as tariffs, over-zealous border patrol, and space limitations when it comes to merchandise so it's important to think things through before planning a tour to the United States. Below are a few things that you should take into consideration when gearing up for an International tour.
1) Drop ship Your Merchandise To Your First Show
You may not be aware of it but, as an international visitor, if you plan on bringing anything into the United States and selling it, like t-shirts or hoodies, you are going to have to pay a tariff, or tax, on it. This can be quite a hassle and sometimes customs will not even let you bring your merchandise over the border. There is an easy solution, however, and that is to print your merchandise in the United States and have it shipped to the club, bar, hall, or basement of your first show. Not only will you avoid any tariffs you'll also be able to lighten your load and avoid any extra baggage fees.
2) Print Only What You Need
Unfortunately, the same rules may apply when leaving the United State, and you may be subject to tariffs and excise taxes when bringing your merchandise back into your home country. The best way to avoid doing this is to NOT come home with any merchandise by printing only what you need. While this may be a shameless plug, we have a 3-5 day turnaround and can accommodate a variety of shipping methods; so it's easy to re-order and have your new merchandise drop shipped to a future date should you run low on the road. After the first few nights you'll be able to get a handle of how much you are selling and how far in advance you will need to order to keep from running out.
3) Bring An Extra Duffel Bag
Do yourself a favor and throw an extra duffel bag into your luggage when you leave for tour. Should you have extra merchandise at the end of the tour you can use this bag to bring it back home. Pass it off as dirty laundry when going through customs and avoid any import/export issues.
4) Print Promo Materials In Advance
With the rising cost of everything these days, even something as simple as mailing a poster or press kit to a club can really put a dent into your budget, especially if you're mailing it from overseas. Cut down on this cost by printing your promo materials in the states and mailing directly to the clubs in advance. While we do not advertise it on our website, we can assist you with mailing any promo materials and press kits – just ask us and we'll be happy to work with you.
5) Consider Digital Download Cards As An Alternative To CD's
Lets face it, CD's are quickly going the way of VHS and 8-tracks. They're also not cheap to produce and they weight a lot. In short, when touring from another country they just take up valuable space. On that note, consider ditching CD's and moving to a digital solution. We've been a huge fan of download cards for the past year or so and have been using them at events as promo items for that very reason. Not only are they cheaper than CDs, they take up a lot less room and, face it, they're a lot cooler. Again, while we do not currently advertise them on our site, BandsOnABudget.com can readily assist your should you decide to make the leap and ditch the compact disc.
Bret Morgan is an owner of and web developer for BandsOnABudget.com, SwimMerch.com, ZenMerch.com, and DBLSystems.com. In his free time he enjoys surfing, ashtanga yoga, riding bikes (both motorized and foot powered), and reading. His current beer of choice is Carlsberg. He can be contacted at bret [at] BandsOnABudget.com