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May 2018

How to Get Booked at Music Festivals
By D Cumming for Music Think Tank

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Do your homework

Before sending an app or bio to a music promoter, find out what the festival is all about. Secondly, know who it is you're sending your submission to. Irrespective of how talented your rock band is, sending your bio or submission to perform at a jazz festival will be a waste of your and the promoters time. Also, research the number of performers the festival accommodates. Equally important is knowing your fan base vis-à-vis the festival's target audience. If your fan base is comprised mainly of young adults, then it is wise to look for a festival whose target audience is young adults.

Start small/local

Big music festivals are extremely competitive. As an up and coming musician, it is very likely that your submission will be rejected in favor of a more established artist. So, it's wise to start with local festivals where you have a higher chance of getting accepted. And, starting small will help you prepare for the large events. Sure there is a possibility that you will not be paid for your first performance, however, performing at small festivals gives you exposure. This exposure will be instrumental in catapulting you from small festivals to the glamor of large music events.

Keep it short

No promoter wants, or has the time, to read a long bio on who you are, where you come from, where you went to school, etc. So, keep your communications short and precise. However, this does not mean that you should be generic. Promoters get thousands of emails and they rarely read them all. So, to land that performance slot you're eyeing, be unique and creative in your correspondence. And, pay attention to spelling. It may seem obvious, but there are many musicians who get rejected simply because they spelled a promoter's name wrong in an email or message.

Provide evidence

Truth be told, most every musician claims to be the best. But, how many can back-up their claims with indisputable evidence? Your emails should include a link to a video of one of your live performances. It is one thing to say that you are a great musician; it is another to prove that you are a talented artist. The internet is full of video tools that you can use to get your music content out there. That being said, the videos you post need to be clear and audible. Also, sending studio recordings is not the best way to go. Let's be honest; anyone can sound great in a studio. So, studio recordings are not considered authentic by most promoters.

Act fast

As stated earlier, performance slots are hard to come by. So, it's important to follow up on any submissions you make. Responding to any communication should as immediately as possible. You never know when an opportunity may come up and performance slots can open at the last minute. You need to be ready to jump on those opportunities.

Have an online presence

Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Snapchat, Instagram. All these are tools you can use to create a strong web presence. And, since they're free, you really have no excuse not to use them. Having a strong online presence is critical to increasing your chances of landing gigs. The truth is, just like your fans, most promoters use social media and so should you. So, do your best to maintain a strong online presence.

Get to know people

While working on your music is obviously important, mingling with like-minded people can be hugely beneficial. So whenever you get a chance, go out and get to know other musicians, booking agents, and managers. Interacting with people from your local music scene is one of the best ways to get referrals and recommendations. Personal referrals and recommendations may come in handy when you want to apply to a music festival.

Consider your costs

Performing at a music festival can be a financially rewarding endeavor. It can also be a costly affair. When you're starting out, consider limiting yourself geographically and calculate how much the concert will cost you. Consider the costs of insurance, accommodation, food, performing equipment and other essential items and decide how much you're willing, or able, to spend on an event. It may take sometime before you start getting gigs that pay well or at all.

Most importantly, keep the dream alive! If you bring some of the discipline and passion you have for practicing and playing to the process of booking festivals, you'll soon be performing at the music fests of your choice!


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