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August 2012
Booking festivals can seem like a challenge to many budding musicians. This month, we'll talk about how to connect with Festival Artistic Directors to make this goal a bit more reachable.

As always, if you have any particular topics you'd like to see covered here, or if you'd like to contribute an article to the FNO newsletters - drop me a line!

Happy rockin'!
FNO Newsletter Editor

Getting Into the Minds of Festival Artistic Directors

By Jeri Goldstein Copyright 2012 The New Music Times, Inc.

So, you would like to play some festivals?

So far they've seemed pretty illusive.

It would probably be a huge help if you began to think like a festival director. Since they have to knit together a cohesive, interesting, ticket-selling program, they are not just thinking about one act and how that act will sell, they are thinking about how to piece together multiple shows each day of the festival. They often start their creative process of thinking about the next year's festival while this year's festival is happening. They are constantly analyzing how the acts are working, how the audience is reacting.

If the festivals you are interested in playing also have workshop stages along with their multiple stage areas, then you need to pay attention to this aspect of the festival. Here is where artistic director really shows their creativity.

As you research each festival, review the most recent festival. Check out the previous year's acts. But most of all check out the schedule, the way the festival is put together. See who followed whom and what the titles of any of the workshops are. This will give you the most insight into how the director thinks and plans.

Here's what you should be looking and planning for:

1. Workshop titles and the acts that are lined up in each workshop

2. Main stage and minor stage line-up

3. Side stage line-up-the stage that might have brief performances while the main stage is being set up for the next big act. If you are a novelty act that can perform 2-10 minute sets, you might just be perfect on these stages and get to play in front of the main stage audience multiple times throughout the main show.

4. Ease or difficulty of load-in and set up

5. The size of the act

6. The novelty of the act-has the act been seen at other festivals before or is it new to the continent or country and is that something the director is known to look for.

7. Will the act be a draw or is the act just beginning to get known?

8. If the act is foreign, are VISAs a concern, a cost or a problem?

9. Will travel costs for any one act be a burden to the festival's budget?

When preparing your pitch to a festival artistic director, plan to contact them no sooner than one month after the previous year's festival has ended. They need some down-time right after the festival. Here are some things you ought to be doing before contacting any festival director.

1. Review YOUR programs and what YOU can offer.

2. Do you have any workshops in which you can moderate or participate?

3. Can you come up with some clever workshop names to suggest to the artistic director?

4. Do you have the potential to be used on a side stage during a main-stage change-over?

5. Are you willing to be flexible about the time of your performance? By offering your act for a day slot, you get your foot in the door, play the festival, develop your audience and the director's admiration and set yourself up for a more prime-time slot next year.

6. Have you built up enough of a following in the area to leverage your way into a showcase slot if one is offered? Sharing your statistics of audience development in the area can help with this.

Festivals are a great place for a new act to launch a new market, but you have got to be able to offer the artistic director some creative insights into who you are as an act and how YOU can help them create an exciting festival. Think about what they need to do and create your pitch with their needs in mind and you'll have a much better chance of playing the festivals you are itching to play.

And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you'll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You'll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It's all waiting for you at

Jeri Goldstein is President & Founder of where she teaches musicians, performing artists, agents & managers how to get great gigs. She is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician's & Performing Artist's Guide To Successful Touring 3rd Edition and The Tiny Guide to Huge Success100 Biz Boosting Hot tips to Ignite Your Performing Career. Jeri is an artist career development coach and keynote speaker.

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