Now artists can tour the world without the payment headaches

David Beach5 minutes
Now artists can tour the world without the payment headaches

When musicians hit the road on gruelling global tours, financial complexity often lurks backstage. Smart payment tools from Airwallex save their teams time and money so the show can go on, and on.

Going on tour can be exhilarating for musicians. Just imagine: the sold-out stadiums, adoring fans chanting your lyrics back to you, and parties that last until dawn in glitzy hotels. 

Behind the scenes, however, touring internationally is relentlessly demanding. It requires tremendous coordination to ensure everything runs smoothly. From hotels and restaurants to merchandise sales and equipment, making payments in multiple currencies across different countries can be a logistical and financial nightmare.

There’s a huge team working to keep the show rolling – from roadies lugging equipment between venues to managers sorting accommodation, transport and everything in between. And behind smooth operators? Managing and administering the tour’s expenses; the stakes are sky-high. If things don’t go to plan, managers and accountants will have headaches – and not from the music.

Artists might perform to tens or even hundreds of thousands each night, but huge costs also need covering, which is why smart finance solutions that can save time and money are worth singing about from the rooftops. At Airwallex, we know how much financial friction tour teams deal with daily – and we’ve made it our mission to fix that.

“We Built This City” – the show behind the show  

Picture the scene. On stage at Madison Square Garden, a chart-topping musician reaches a crescendo note that raises goosebumps on 39,000 arms. The crowd roars as she thanks them breathlessly and runs off to prepare for an encore.

Backstage, the star’s tour manager barely has a second to enjoy the atmosphere. She's already fielding questions about transport to the next city, the rider for tomorrow’s off-day hotel, and why the support band’s bassist had to make an emergency dental appointment that afternoon, and more. But worse is still to come.

Halfway across the world, it’s 3AM and the client manager gets a call from the stressed out tour manager. The entourage can’t get into the hotel rooms. The card has been declined 3 times because the hotel has stopped accepting prepaid cards and, in any case, the tour manager can’t check the USD balance to see if there’s enough to cover costs.

Yet, scrolling through her inbox, a message from their accountant catches her eye – they have found an alternative solution: Airwallex. The multi-currency account is going live for the next leg in Asia. She smiles, and thinks: “Finally, a financial partner that gets life on the international road.”

“Money, Money, Money” – the Airwallex difference  

Since 2015, we’ve built smart financial infrastructure for moving money around the world quickly and easily. We now have a global team of over 1,400 people supporting clients worldwide. Our tools help over 100,000 businesses manage payments and cash flow, including SHEIN, Qantas, McLaren Racing, and countless other iconic brands.

As a fully licensed international payments provider, we offer bank-beating foreign exchange rates across over 170 currencies. Our accounts and cards work seamlessly in 63 countries, with custom integrations to platforms like Xero, NetSuite and Quickbooks for simplified reporting.  

That's because Airwallex was built with a single purpose in mind – to create a world where all businesses can operate without borders and restrictions, and by doing so, propel the growth of the global digital economy.

And in early February we were excited to announce we’d be fulfilling this purpose with McLaren Racing’s F1 team. Considering the Formula 1 season is basically a large global tour, the same model works in the music world – so it’s no surprise that talent management agencies and their accountants are turning to us.

“Simply the Best” – multi-currency power   

While musicians and money managers might work in a world away from manufacturing supply chains or eCommerce marketplaces, they face the same financial friction points:

  • Collection

  • Management and spend

  • Reconciliation 

Luckily, Airwallex has all this covered.  

“Money (That’s What I Want)” – Payment collection

Airwallex offers fully-featured business accounts in all major currencies designed for businesses who operate globally. 

So, for example, UK musicians can get paid directly by European promoters in Euros, (or USD, AUD, JPY, CNY, MXN etc), avoiding considerable FX conversion costs. The ability to open up multi-currency accounts is a big plus.

Our accounts also allow for seamless digital merchandising while on tour. Musicians could collect payments in one currency from their customised online merchandise shop – USD, for instance – and have the freedom to spend from those currencies.

“Money’s Too Tight (to Mention)” – management and spend

Managing spend on tour in multiple currencies is often a challenging juggling act for the tour managers. Customisable expense policies on our virtual and physical Visa cards can restrict spending to certain merchant types or limits and countries for extra flexibility, meaning managers can spend with confidence.

Seriously, though, the cards can also be used across borders (one card to rule them all) because it’ll automatically draw the local currency (we offer 10 major billing currencies) from your balance if you hold that currency in the associated account. Further, our Visa debit cards do not have the hassle of needing to constantly top-up and pre-convert funds in advance, while GooglePay and ApplePay are supported for ease and convenience. 

With Airwallex there are no surprises. In many offices, the finance team still whips around the office to check card balances with the respective managers; no one wants to be doing that on a Thursday afternoon. That doesn’t happen with Airwallex thanks to our low balance alerts and multi-account views, saving you that dreaded weekend message that cards have been declined.

Paying suppliers abroad often means frustrating admin and delays with traditional banks. Waiting days for international transfers to clear can throw your schedule off kilter.  

In contrast, Airwallex payouts landing in hours rather than days let you react faster because we route payments via local payment rails around the world and not SWIFT, the vintage international payment network (not Taylor). Our debit cards (virtual, physical or in-wallet) also make payments happen without foreign transaction fees, meaning scrambled vendor payment at 2am can happen without embarrassing and reputation-damaging delays.  

“Hello, it’s me. I was wondering if after all these years, you'd like to sync” – reconciliation

After a long tour, the last thing stressed-out tour managers need is chasing receipts and invoices to tally the books. Airwallex cuts through the paperwork pile-up.  

The ability to upload and tag expenses in our system already saves hassle. But auto-syncing all card transactions directly into accounting platforms like Xero takes things to another level. Whether monitoring costs on the fly or quickly reconciling finances at the tour's end, reporting becomes far less painful, leaving more time to plan their artist’s next world-conquering live spectacular.

“Move On Up” – Airwallex grows with you

Finally, one of the best things about Airwallex is that it is a scalable solution, meaning it can grow with an up-and-coming artist, on their way to becoming a venue-sell-out star. 

By tackling the tactical headaches of multi-currency payments and reconciliation, Airwallex enables artists the time to perfect their craft and deliver exceptional fan experiences. With future opportunities like direct merchandise sales and rapid global money movement, centralising tour finances with Airwallex promises more than just easier payment processing – it unlocks creative potential for musical artists to share their talents with audiences everywhere.

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David Beach
Content Marketing Manager - EMEA

David manages the content for Airwallex. He specialises in content that helps EMEA businesses navigate global and local payments and banking.

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