AMSTERDAM (Hypebot) – Many people continuously ask me how I got my foot into touring Europe. I don't think there is any chance to figure out how to do it except go, and I can tell you that I recall sleeping in a McDonalds in Berlin, arriving to the UK with a suitcase and no where to go on a RZA tour (which he cancelled), and playing a show in Bristol to 6 people in a room where one guy was so drunk he completely took off his clothes and started whipping his D#$K around while I was rapping.
Don't worry guys…the shows weren't all this amazing. It gets better!
I am currently in Amsterdam realizing that I am playing shows out here that people only seem to dream of. The crowds are big. The crowds are small. People buy merch. I'm making money. I am learning more about what to do better.
1. Buy a plane ticket
This is your first guarantee to getting to Europe. I can only tell you this because in my experience, it has worked for me and if it is open ended you won't have that much difficulty being in Europe becuase you will have no choice to. Imagine joining a tour and the person cancelling and you are still going? It happened to me, and I still made it happen. Don't wait for someone to buy you a ticket. It'll never happen. By the time it does, you will have lost at least two years. If you are willing to wait that long.
2. Search around online and see who you can join.
You might not be able to play with people in LA or NYC, but if you buy a ticket and show up, you will have a good chance to open for some great acts. If you rap you can do a song or two and be ok. When RZA's tour got cancelled, I joined Akil from Jurassic 5 and got to perform with him every night, as well as get a opening set. I literally found him in the newspaper looking around for local shows.
3. Go during festival season aka The Summer
If you want to play in Europe, the first time I did it was in the summer in Hradec Kralove in Czech Republic @ Hip Hop Kemp. It's a huge festival people go to and there are tons of microphones including one in the parking lot. So my first show was for a bunch of Polish people in a parking lot at 6:30 am. Watch it here.
4. Ask for help and send your music out on Facebook to European Promoters!
This sounds dumb but most of the people who are doing underground promotions or have huge concert bookings all use Facebook. I literally dropped off a cd at a venue in Amsterdam from a guy I met at SXSW and next thing you know I was booked to open for Snoop Dogg. I used to do this in America with Myspace but now it def works in Facebook, especially without an agent.
5. Do free collaborations in exchange for shows
Doing music with other people might cost you money, but having a show and a meaningful experience with great photos/video is more important than it all. I collab with as many European artists // beatmakers as I can and keep in touch this way my music gets heard by the right people! People know my music here from 6 years ago, which means something, because in America, we digest the internet much quicker.
6. Go for an extended amount of time
There is no definition of a tour. If you want to, buy a one way ticket and find a hostel to play at. Bring your guitar, play in the street for $$ and meet people who will book you for other gigs.Play for 7 bed mates in the 25 Euro a night hostel you are staying at. You can make about 25 Euro an hour playing in the street easily and plenty of bars will let you walk in and play for free with the hope of selling cds. Get people excited by posting the show location on your twitter, facebook, instagram and documenting it. If you go for a month to Europe, you'll guaranteed play lots of shows and pick em up while you are there. You just have to go and pretend you are new to the game (which you are) and ask everyone.
7. Play for free and be willing to lose money
I recall going on tour with 2mex and Dj Pickster One to their tour and playing for free. Although I did that, I was advertised on some cool fliers, sold some merch at shows, and also got the joy of my passport stolen. While advertising the shows, I caught the attention of a French gal and was able to shoot a video that years later has 20,000+ views. I made great connections and lost about 1000 bucks, but I got a free video, which could've cost me the same money anyway.
8. Bring value to wherever you are going
No one knew who I was at the Rza //Raekwon show but I got there early enough with a suitcase to make it look like I was playing. When I had my 15 minutes, I performed for all the other promoters who also booked Rza and I ended up staying with them. I then stayed with them, and played with their friends at their clubs and sold cds and eventually linked with Akil and then trained it to Germany to sit in and rap with Matisyahu for 4 back to back shows in Germany, France, Holland and London, where I finally flew back. Each time I was at the shows, I brought value and kicked freestyles, helped out in any way, and filled in the time where I was needed.
9. Dont worry about the money. Worry about your story.
I can't stress this enough for your European tour. I was in Belgium, France and it was basically a wash when it came to $$$.
But I did get some great things from all the stuff in Europe, including a booking agent, gigs for over 1000 euro, and sharing bills with world stars from Matisyahu, Macklemore, Asap Rocky, Snoop Dogg, Bomba Estereo and more. I also received press in XXL Magazine, Complex, and tons of interesting sites that aren't in English.
Hope this gives you some hope and all for your future European music career. Please share this article with someone who needs it, grab some merch for the summer, and watch my latest video.
Other than that say hi, tweet at @koshadillz, and if you have anything exciting you want to hire me for, email rapperfriends at gmail.com.