There's no doubt that playing festivals can expand your audience within the festival market. There are so many to play and choose from as you plan your festival booking search. If you feel ready to pitch your act to the festival market, here is what I would suggest you do before picking up the phone or emailing a link to your Electronic Press Kit or your website to every festival on some huge list.
1. Set some touring goals as to the markets that are logical for you to tour at this time in your career.
2. Research the festivals that are prominent in that market and make a list, even if it's not the major, well known festival that "everyone is trying to get into." There are plenty of state, county and city-wide events that would be a great place to begin building your audience.
3. Spend some time on these festival websites and make a note of the following:
a. The time of year those festivals occur
b. The contact information
c. Who played the festival last year?
d. How many stages do they run?
e. Do they do any kind of workshops in addition to the performance stages?
f. Do they have a showcase stage for emerging artists and a separate submission process or contact?
g. Do they have a children's performance area?
h. Do they have novelty acts or acts that play during stage changeovers between artists?
4. Now it's time to think about what you can offer in a festival setting. How can you enhance the festival with innovative workshops that you can moderate or in which you can participate. Delve into your song repertoire to come up with some themes and then create some clever titles to match the themes. If you don't have workshop experience or a workshop you can offer, get busy and create one. The more versatile you can be, the more attractive to a festival artistic director you'll become.
5. By knowing more about the festivals you are about to approach, and by knowing what they are looking for as they program each year's festival, you have a much better chance of making a unique pitch to the artistic director and capturing their attention. Let's not forget that you are probably among hundreds if not thousands of other artists who are thinking, like you, "it's time to book some festivals."
Next week: Festival Bookings: Part 2
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