logo for female-musician.com
leftimage for female-musician.com

How To Recognize A Good Overseas Band Booking Agency

Written By Giovanna Westwood

My first time going overseas as a musician was made into a positively unforgettable time in my life.  What made it that way?  An outstanding overseas booking agency – that’s what!

Having worked as a bass player/vocalist in successful bar bands around the Seattle/Tacoma area and feeling that I wanted to experience more in my musical career, I began to look at traveling overseas when the local gigging scene began to change.

I was introduced to John Belmont of the John Belmont Agency based in Mill Creek, Washington whom I asked to keep me in mind whenever he knew of any gig that needed a singing bass player going overseas.  At that time in my life, I was definitely ready for just that type of new experience.  I’m very thankful for John Belmont to this day simply because he’s the reason I learned how to recognize a good overseas band booking agency.

He called me one day not long after our initial contact and told me he had a duo that was traveling to Bangkok, Thailand, and they could use someone just like me who could do double duty on bass and vocals to make it a trio.  We would play top-40 pop music, and I would do some lead vocals.  Well, I jumped at the chance!  Even though I had never gone farther than Canada at that point, I barely thought twice.  The most difficult thing was to figure out how I was going to handle my responsibilities back home while being over there since the gig was a minimum of 6 months.

When I gave my word to John that I would do the gig, he provided me with a contract after telling me all the specifics of the gig – the name of the hotel, how the meals and board was going to be handled, my work visa and my passport details.  He asked me to give him a list of all the equipment that I would need on stage and a manifest of the things I would be taking with me.  He also got me prepared physically for the trip by setting up appointments for me to go and get all my immunizations for overseas travel.

From the beginning, I knew I was in good hands!

When the plane arrived into Bangkok after the approximately 27 hour flight, I’ll never forget how it felt to realize I was touching down in a new country – on a new continent – in brand new culture!

We were met by hotel representatives at the airport and brought to the Central Plaza Hotel, which was at least 5-star, and beautiful from top to bottom.

At the hotel, we were met by the Food and Beverage manager who treated us to a meal in one of the finest restaurants in the hotel where I drank first ever glass of Grappa!

Before we played the first note, we were paid our full month’s pay in U.S. dollars.  We were also taken the next morning to the U.S. Embassy and prepared for legal working status by receiving proper work visas on our passports.

We each had our own rooms in the hotel that we worked in with full housekeeping services.  Every day, I would receive an exotic basket of fruit filled with tasty morsels like rambutaan and lychee and other fruit I had never seen nor heard of before.  It was fantastic!

As we worked our way into the gig, John Belmont himself came to Bangkok to check in on us – not for any trouble; he just truly cared about us!  By the way, he helped me pay my bills back home by sending them all to me and made sure I knew how to handle situations where I had to send things back and forth to the states.  I truly trusted him, and nothing was ever lost or went unpaid!

I had my round trip plane ticket within my possession, so I knew that I wouldn’t be stranded, and everything was on the up-and-up.

We played the gig there at the Central Plaza Hotel, and when our 6 months were just about up, the management asked us if we wanted to work another 3 to 6 months.  At that point, we were all ready to go, but I’ll say that the experience I had from the first surreal moment of landing on the soil of another continent to touchdown back home at SeaTac airport was probably about the best first overseas touring experience a musician could’ve ever had!

Just to recap all the fantastic things the Belmont overseas booking agency did for me:

  • I was fully informed of the details of the gig.

  • I was given a contract to sign and copies for my records.

  • I knew what my backline would be before we arrived at the venue.

  • I was asked for a record (manifest) of the things I was bringing to make sure all my equipment was accounted for.

  • I was informed in every detail of how to get my immunizations for overseas travel, and any questions I had were thoroughly answered.

  • My round-trip travel was paid, and my plane ticket was in my possession.

  • My passport and work papers were handled properly, and we were registered at the U.S. Embassy.

  • We were paid for each month in full, in advance, in U.S. currency so that we’d have money to last through the month
  • Each person had their own room.
  • My agent helped me take care of my responsibilities at home. 
  • He took time out to come and see how we were doing.                                                         

I hope my experience helps you!

Written By Giovanna Westwood


August 1, 2009