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!
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
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
1. Review YOUR programs and what YOU can offer.
2. Do you have any workshops in which you can moderate or
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
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
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Jeri Goldstein is President & Founder of Performingbiz.com 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
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