Getting Back on the Road - A Musician's Guide

Getting back on the road

We’ve all seen how busy social media channels have been during lockdown, as artists and musicians of all levels, who couldn’t stand the isolation, have been performing over the internet to their fans in home studios in front of a camera.

With live gigs more likely to be commonplace this year, do we need to train our minds back into thinking ‘live’ which, for those who have yet to perform in front of a ‘real audience’, is a totally different scenario to staring into a camera?

Aside from those who will have their backs to you on the mobiles, your genuine followers will want that one-to-one live experience, they’ve missed you, and they want to feel you are giving them a personal performance. Sure, you have to visualise the camera again, and feel at ease and relaxed but as this is a live gig, you have to up your game especially with announcements.

Your voice should be match-fit, but don’t forget, if you are a solo singer songwriter guitarist starting out on the live circuit, have you packed all the essentials…aside from your mobile phone. A small tool kit for your instrument or amp is a must, hand gel and gel wipes for your microphone, be extremely aware of Covid-19 if mics are supplied, better still, use your own as long as it’s of a high quality to highlight your vocals.


One to spare

Do you have a guitar tech? This may sound a little over the top, especially if you are a newcomer, if not, at least have a spare guitar close to hand, string breaks are inevitable, even within the new set you have installed (that’s a must) before the show.

Don’t forget, instruments are precious and need paramount protection, a high quality, well constructed gig bag that has a host of compartments to cater for all your accessories, is the complete answer and an ideal investment. 

Mic’ing up a band’s instruments and vocals will of course take longer than a solo singer songwriter who, should also insist on quality time from the sound engineers during the sound check, to ensure the desk is equalised spot on for your voice and guitar.

If you are opening the show, make sure your set is synchronised with your time on stage and ask the promoter if there’s time allocated for an encore.

Oversee the rules

If you are a professional UK musician or an artist lucky enough to have tours and shows booked overseas within the EU, you will be aware of, if not fully understand, the gruelling and ever changing Brexit rules and regulations for touring abroad.

If you are also lucky enough to have a clever tour manager, maybe the heat is off a little, but for most it is a grey area. Whilst Brexit has been big news for several years, it was of course overshadowed by Covid-19, it’s certainly worth reading through the up to date facts and figures on the Musician’s Union website.

Needless to say, essential documents should be up to date and high on your priority ‘checking list’. A valid passport is of course a must, you ain’t going anywhere without that one and, it needs to have 6 months left to run. Some countries are now asking for Covid passports and be prepared for additional Covid tests and their costs.

Protected species

If you are travelling abroad with an instrument that’s subject to the complicated ‘endangered species’ regulations, you’ll need to obtain a CITES Musical Instrument Certificate.

Rosewood in particular, is on the list and one of the most popular exotic instrument tonewoods, although mostly affected if you are buying and selling guitars.

According to CITES law, if you are working abroad, you can freely commute with a guitar featuring rosewood as long as it travels with you and the mass of the wood is less than 10kg or 22lbs. If you have a model with a mix of tonewoods that includes rosewood, working out how much could prove tricky.

But, and it’s a BIG BUT, for now, 'live' is back, let’s enjoy it, whilst being scrupulously aware that Covid-19 has an ‘All Access Pass’ to all gigs, from small pubs to full-on festivals, take all precautions and don’t let him in!



Lars Mullen

About Lars Mullen

With over 30 years in the music business, Lars Mullen does indeed wear many hats, as a writer, journalist, photographer, press person for his own company Music Media Announcements. As an extensive traveller, he's a familiar figure reporting from music trade shows around the world. Spending many years touring as a professional guitarist, Lars has also interviewed a host of top bands and artists, continues to write articles for magazines globally and still finds time to track down Fusion artists for our Artist Spotlight column and Fusion Virtual World Tour Interview Series.

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