Part of a musician's job is to travel. Their booking agent or tour company will arrange their flights, airport and show transportation, shipping, accommodation and visas. Before any artist travels to a country to perform, they will need various performance rights and clearance from the country's embassy.
Each country has a different set of rules and procedures that musicians have to follow when applying for a visa. Depending on the length of period the artist is performing defines what type of visa a musician can get. The venue or hotel will also need to have a license with the government to provide live music entertainment.
For resident musicians that are contracted to one hotel to perform in one place from 3-6 months, they are normally granted a resident visa, with certain restrictions. In the UAE, resident musicians have rights to travel in and out of the country during their contract. Whereas in Bahrain this is forbidden, if you travel out of the country you will have to reapply for a work visa and that will cost the sponsor (normally the hotel) and your agent a substantial amount of money to redo. It is really important for the Transit band members to respect the regulations for each country, as it can also be deducted from their salaries. Freelance musicians or famous bands touring abroad require permission to perform by the venue and short-stay work visas. When famous entourages tour, extra security needs to be arranged with the government officials.
The general visa process is that the first the booking agent in that country, venue or hotel will need to confirm the booking with the band or band's agent, by a signing a contract. The hotel or venue will set up the provisional temporary entrance so that agent can book flights to the destination. Upon arrival the hotel will arrange an appointment for medical tests. When travelling in Asia most visa applications require each musician to have a series of medical tests sometimes before arrival and upon arrival. These include Physical Examination Record testing for STIs - HIV and Syphilis, make sure the report has your name on it as there is no place for confidentiality here. It also includes Liver function, HBsAG - Hepatitis B - may be taken from Alanine transaminase (ALT), Aspartate transaminase (AST) and total bilirubin (T-BIL) - checking if you drink too much, plus Chest Examination and ECG. The musicians will also need to be vaccinated in advance of travel for prevention of Tuberculosis or Hepatitis.
Once the resident musicians are cleared and their results are normal, this information is sent with their passport and work information (hotel or venue booking, performance information and address accommodation) to the consulate for acceptance. The venue or hotel manages this process, as they are the host or sponsor (as well as able to speak the mother-tongue language). For freelance or touring musicians they will have had to have their visa approved in advance and collect this from immigration once landed in the country. The immigration officer will then arrange for the passports to be stamped and allow entrance.
Costs of medical tests, visas and performance permissions are high; therefore it is imperative for the musicians to abide to the laws. In most Asian countries if you land in trouble through involvement in prostitution, drugs, physical fighting, alcohol overuse or ignorance of culture and regulations - you will face serious consequences like jail, death and no contact with your embassy.
Whenever touring a country, ensure you research what the laws are and check with your music agent or the host what the ground rules are. Ensure you stay out of trouble to not further jeopardise your fellow band member's jobs and the music agent that represents you. Do not mess with the law, because the law has no tolerance in messing around.
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