Thursday , January 27 2022

Hoist Thine Ax, See China

Most working musicians don’t make a whole lot of money, but they do get to do what they love, and if they are good and/or lucky enough to tour, they can travel to places they otherwise would have never seen, which counts for something.

Of course for many, as they get older and start to have families, the requirement to tour to make a living becomes a negative rather than a positive: very few can afford to take their families with them on the road, and if the significant other works or the kids are in school it may not be practical even if the musician is in the rarefied strata where money isn’t a primary consideration. And you wonder why so many musician’s lives are unstable?

Yet for others still – lifers like Willie “On th Road Again” Nelson, B.B. King, Bobby Rush, etc. – the road goes on forever and everything else comes in second: he road IS life, everything else is just a pit stop.

All musing aside, here is a very intriguing opportunity for musicians to tour China:

    The Planetary Group, in association with China West Entertainment, has been presenting shows in Shanghai, Nanjing, and Beijing in the Peoples Republic of China for the past two years. Shows have been at the club, theatre and special event level – with bands staying for as short a time as one week – to more recently – extended stays of three months.

    Planetary has been taking care of all logistics: visas, airfare, equipment rentals, permits and housing. So far, Missing Joe, Entrain, Star 64, The Sheila Divine, Bellevue Cadillac, Damone, Dead Cat Bounce, The Sam Hooper Group and NYC band The Realistics are some of the bands that recently rocked China.

    Planetary, China West Entertainment and Sonic Bids are now offering the opportunity for more artists to perform and tour in China. We have several venues and events that are looking for acts during the next year. Whether short term or long term – we are looking for Rock, Pop, Reggae, World, Jazz and Hip-Hop artists to perform in China.

It does cost $29.95 through Sonicbids to apply – here are the FAQs:

    Q. Why is there an entry fee to be considered for this opportunity?
    A. The money raised from the submissions, will go directly towards helping to underwrite this series. As you could imagine, it is quite expensive to bring artists halfway around the world.

    Q. What type of artists should submit?
    A. We are looking for all types of acts: Rock, Pop. Reggae/World, Hip-Hop, Jazz, Blues, Punk, Singer/Songwriters.

    Q. Can we apply if we are not from The United States? What if one member is from a different country than the rest of us?
    A. Bands and Band members from all countries are allowed to submit. We only ask that you notify us ahead of time as to your citizenship on the application, so that we can deal with the necessary paperwork.

    Q. How long would we be going over for?
    A. Trips will vary. Trip length will be one to three weeks in length, in general. There will also be several opportunities to go for extended stays of 1-3 months in length.

    Q. I don’t know Chinese.
    A. Not a major problem. As most of the shows are in Shanghai, English is commonly spoken in many areas there.

    Q. Do we have to submit through Sonicbids , or can we submit directly to you?
    A. We prefer that you submit through Sonicbids, as that makes it easier for us. However, you may also submit through snail mail. Please send a CD, press kit, application and check for $25 to: The Planetary Group, P.O. Box 52116, Boston, MA 02205.

    Q. What is the weather like?
    A. Very similar to the Northeast in the United States. Hot in the summer. Cold in the winter. However, Shanghai does not get snow like New England. Beijing, does get snow.

    Q. Are there any age restrictions on members going to China?
    A. All musicians should be at least 18 years of age.

    Q. Do we need a passport?
    A. Yes. However, we can help you get one (if you are a U.S. citizen). If you are thinking of applying, but don’t have a passport, you should still apply.

    Q. Do we need a visa or work permit?
    A. Yes. We take care of securing all necessary paperwork and permits. Obviously, these can sometimes fall through. However, we have staff in China that is very good at this and we have not had that experience yet.

    Q. Will we be paid?
    A. Every case is different. Sometimes you will be paid for a show or will be on salary for longer stays. Other appearances will be of a promotional nature and you would just be doing it for the experience. Remember, your expenses are paid – so if this is the case – just enjoy the trip!

    Q.What will we eat? Can we drink the water?
    A.The local food is great. There are also western restaurants and western supermarkets for when you are craving a hamburger or a sandwich. Everyone in China drinks bottled water. It is available everywhere.

    Q. Is China safe?
    A. Absolutely. We have not had any problems and find the country to be very safe. As in any country, follow the laws, and you will be fine.

    Q. Can we bring merchandise to sell?
    A. You can bring a limited amount to sell. Anything more than that and you are dealing with custom fee’s, etc. Not worth it. Also, as T-shirts and CD’s are made in China, you cannot command sale prices that you do in the US. Therefore, why bring your CD to China, when you can only sell it for $2.

    Q. Is there a lot of paperwork to do if selected for this?
    A. Absolutely. However, we take care of all of that for you. We will need a lot of biographical and personal information, but we will take care of all forms for you.

    Q. How do we get to China? Where do we stay? Are meals covered?
    A. We take care of the airfare to get you over there. Lodging is also taken care of. This is often in the form of a long term furnished apartment. The venues that you are performing in will often feed you dinner. Breakfast and lunch are normally your responsibility. However, food is very, very, cheap.

    Q. Do we bring our gear with us?
    A. We provide most of the backline. Artists bring guitars, bass, snare and cymbals. Keyboards are the gray area as sometimes we use local keyboards and sometimes we bring them over.

    Q: Can we bring our crew, road manger, manager, Etc. with us?
    A. No. We have production staff in China to assist you. The economics do not afford us the luxury of bringing extra people.

    Q. Even if we are selected, could this all fall through?
    A. Yes. The fact of the matter is, we are dealing with another country, another culture and another set of government rules and regulations. Things could fall through. All we can guarantee is that we will use our best efforts to insure that this does not happen. All of our confirmed shows have happened so far.

All of my personal dealings with the Planetary Group have been very positive and professional as well. If this sounds interesting to you, go for it.

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About Eric Olsen

Career media professional and serial entrepreneur Eric Olsen flung himself into the paranormal world in 2012, creating the America's Most Haunted brand and co-authoring the award-winning America's Most Haunted book, published by Berkley/Penguin in Sept, 2014. Olsen is co-host of the nationally syndicated broadcast and Internet radio talk show After Hours AM; his entertaining and informative America's Most Haunted website and social media outlets are must-reads: [email protected],, Pinterest America's Most Haunted. Olsen is also guitarist/singer for popular and wildly eclectic Cleveland cover band The Props.

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