Getting gigs in France

For the latest instalment of Make it Happen, PRS for Music’s Jules Parker shared some of his top touring tips ahead of the Vive la France! 2012 convention.

French music and culture festival Vive la France! is a three-day extravaganza down in Brighton which celebrates all things tricolore.

The programme boasts open discussion forums with some of the industry’s top Francophiles,  networking opportunities for UK acts looking to cross the channel and live music showcases. Last night, new Domino Records signing Francois and the Atlas Mountains headlined. To find out more, read M’s 30 Seconds With… feature here.

Meanwhile, joining Jules on the open forum tomorrow will be Full Time Hobby label founder Nigel Adams and Christophe Quemin from Get Your Acts Together.

Here are some of Jules’ top tips for bands wishing to tour in France:

Get some champions on board

First of all you need to create some kind of buzz before you go and have a profile before you even attempt to book shows. You should gather some champions over there, be they promoters, media, radio presenters, whoever. You can do this by either contacting PR agencies if you have some money to burn or there’s loads you can do on your own by contacting people directly and sending your music out to tastemakers.

Make friends at home before you go
Can you plug into the French expats living in the UK? They call London the seventh biggest city in France, with an estimated expat community of 300,000. Make friends with French Radio London or local French tastemakers, and send them your music.

Do your research before contacting French promoters
Who promotes similar kinds of music? Who’s into what you do? Can you contact bands directly to arrange playing with them? It’s easy and relatively cheap to get over to Paris so you could set up a gig off your own backs pretty easily.

When to tour
Autumn and winter are best. Avoid May, July and August and most of September. There are lots of festivals in July and August but most clubs close and everyone goes on holiday!

What are the best venues to consider?
There are state-funded venues or clubs and festivals for you to consider. The best festivals to try for first are: the MaMA industry showcase, Printemps De Bourges, Trans-musicales, Europavox, Vielles Charrues, Les Eurockeenes and Les Mediterraneenes. Look out for state-subsidised venues, called Centre-Culturelles, as they are often more willing to take risk on new and untried acts. Also the Fleche D’Or is a great first bet, as are music discovery nights hosted by Custom or Les Inrocks.

You’ve got the gig, what else do you need?
You may need the tax forms A1/E101 if you are from the UK and working abroad. Visit Her Majesty’s Revenue and Customs department website for more information.