Advice from musicians that have used our services to tour Japan.
Touring Japan will be one of the most rewarding things you’ll ever do. It may be one of the most expensive too! The advice on this page from other musicians, and from Shalestone’s Duane himself, is right on target. But there are many variables though, that will affect the type of tour you put together: Here are a couple that I think are important.
* Your genre- We're an Acoustic/Pop/Rock band , and we do all originals. But, for example, if you're an R&B artist that does mainly covers, your tour will look very different.
* Promotion- After many tours and trips to Japan, I’ve tried various types of publicit;, radio, handouts, posters, websites, etc. The only thing I can guarantee will bring people into the clubs is if they’ve seen you before. I know that doesn’t help much if you are planning your first tour, but it will save you money. I spent thousands on sample CDs and sent them in advance, they didn't do a thing to bring people in. Radio made for a nice souvenir, but didn't bring people in either. Spare no expense to get some nice posters made up and send them in advance. If you have the resources, set up shows with some popular bands in the areas you'll be playing in. Even though you won't get credit for the ticket sales, you'll play to a full house, and that's really the most important thing.
Do your best to learn a few key phrases in Japanese, take small gifts for the club owners, other musicians, etc., and you will surely see a positive effect.
And just a final word: Going to Japan shouldn't be about making money. It's about making friends, one person to another, and one country to another. We're living in a time where that's just about the most important thing you could be doing with your gift of music right now.
* If you have the opportunity, make it happen!
* Pack light, as not only are the rooms small, but traveling by train just makes it easier. Even if you are only staying at one hotel.
* Have some sort of wheeled bag to get to the gigs. The train system is great and easy to use, but there is a lot of walking. I had my music, CD's, etc., in a small wheeled bag, the best $40 I ever spent!
* You need to approach the tour with a 'go with the flow' attitude. I felt there was a lot of wasted time getting to gigs 3 hours early for a sound check that was never really needed (in the case of the small jazz clubs). Just remember, who cares, you're in Japan!!
* The Live Houses in Japan are small and intimate. Be ready for that, as many of the clubs I play in the States are very large.The clubs might not be able to fit a lot of people, but the people that are there are so wonderful and appreciative that you are performing!
* Bring some gifts with you from wherever you live. It's a wonderful gesture and part of the Japanese culture.
* I was very lucky Duane put together a lineup of amazing Japanese musicians. It really helped to get more people to the venues and it was just awesome to play with them. I had only one semi-sub-par player. So, you need to be prepared that the culture is different and you may have to continue to use someone you would have normally chosen to replace. But it all works out.
* The people of Japan are so polite and helpful. It's always nice to learn some of the language before staying in a foreign country, but the Japanese will go out of their way to assist you. We had a group of people take us on a bus with them and even change buses to help get us to where we wanted to go!!!
* Listen to Duane's advice!
I hope to return to Japan someday. I made many friends and certainly had the experience of a lifetime. Like I said earlier, if you get the chance to play in Japan...DO IT!!!
* Plan on traveling light. I brought a rolling flight case with two Stratocasters, a rolling rack case and laptop in it as well as stage clothes and merchandise. It was a lot to carry through train stations, up and down stairs.
* Rent a car or van for sure.
* Buy a Japanese Rail Pass and see the country, it really is stunning. (7 days-$250)
* Listen to what Duane says, he is honest and knows what he is talking about.
* Don't plan on partying, it will cost you a couple days of feeling bad.
* Learn some key words and phrases before you arrive.
* Be polite and kind at all times. You will be treated better than you could dream!
* Come with an attitude of gratitude. Plan on making new friends and spread the love.