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Wednesday, February 28, 2024

Learn how to e book your first music pageant slot


Do you dream of headlining an enormous music pageant? 

Not surprisingly, a vital step in the direction of that purpose is: reserving your FIRST music pageant slot! 

With 1,000+ annual music festivals within the USA and Europe alone, there’s an entire world of alternative on the market so that you can wow IRL audiences together with your dwell present. 

On this article we’ll discover:

  • the professionals and cons of pageant performances
  • the right way to know for those who’re prepared for a pageant gig
  • and some other ways to e book your first pageant slot

Let’s dive in!

Why play music festivals?

This may sound like an odd place to start out, however it’s price asking: Do you actually WANT to discover music pageant alternatives? 

Some festivals are wonderful, career-defining experiences:

Coachella, Glastonbury, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Pageant, Newport People Pageant, ZoukOut, Rolling Loud, Lollapalooza Brasil…

Impress these audiences and your music shall be throughout TikTok and Instagram. As memorable as it might be to rock a type of phases, although, your presence at a pageant of that calibre most likely means you’ve already constructed your profession to a sure degree. 

Smaller music festivals offer you an opportunity to:

On the way in which there, you’ll have to think about OTHER sorts of festivals. Small festivals catering to area of interest genres. Upstart festivals that spotlight your metropolis or area’s artwork scene. Or model new occasions that haven’t been confirmed but. 

  • Carry out in entrance of probably the most devoted music followers in a geographic area
  • Attain curious listeners who’re open to discovering new sounds throughout genres
  • Construct your pageant resumé
  • Meet, befriend, or collaborate with different up-and-coming acts

However let’s be trustworthy: You may additionally encounter disorganized festivals. Crap attendance. Failed promotion. Dangerous climate. Scammy administrators. Horrible sound and manufacturing. And actually, is there something worse than unhealthy sound at an out of doors gig? The reply is no.

Enjoying a music pageant may be unforgettable. Unforgettably nice or disastrous. I’m not attempting to discourage you. Simply wish to set some real looking expectations:

Not all festivals are created equal. Your mileage could range.

Some issues to think about about music pageant alternatives

Journey prices versus pay 

What’s the compensation on your efficiency? How far-off is the pageant? Do you want a lodge? Are you able to e book different tour dates in your approach there and again? How a lot will you pay in gasoline and meals? 

If it’s a fantastic pageant alternative, it might be well worth the journey for breakeven or perhaps a slight loss. However you’ll wish to assume by these calculations beforehand. 

Time and visibility of your pageant slot

I stated above that not all festivals are created equal. The identical goes for slots inside any given pageant. 

What good is taking part in a pageant in case your set is early within the day whereas attendees are sleeping off a hangover, or for those who’re taking part in probably the most inconvenient stage concurrently a main-stage act that may draw crowds AWAY from you? 

If you happen to’re not conversant in the pageant first-hand, ask round to achieve perspective. Learn critiques on-line. Take a look at TikTok, Instagram, Fb, and YouTube for video from the earlier yr’s occasion, with a particular search focus in your slot, stage, and time. 

Degree of pageant viewers engagement

Whereas it’s usually the case that music pageant attendees are open-minded and enthusiastic, it can be true that… they’re not particularly there for YOUR music. 

A giant pageant with many competing phases can have the sensation of an all-you-can-eat buffet, the place listeners pattern a little bit of this, a little bit of that, however don’t totally put money into something besides the headliners. 

Different festivals — like Portland, Oregon’s Pickathon — put an enormous emphasis on new music, and create an setting the place attendees are actually excited to listen to the lesser-known acts. 

So once more, perform a little analysis to get a way for whether or not precise music discovery is going on on the smaller phases. 

The truth of pageant merch gross sales

 That is one other space that may be an enormous win or an enormous disappointment. 

If you happen to slay, your new followers could soar on the likelihood to satisfy you on the merch desk (assuming merch gross sales are permitted through the pageant). Nevertheless it may be true that within the rush of an action-packed pageant, your viewers strikes shortly to the following set. 

That is yet one more space the place a little analysis can assist you set correct expectations. 

Alternative prices

Your default assumption might be that the pageant IS your alternative. Nevertheless it’s price asking what you’ll be giving as much as play the pageant. 

That might be the financial prices we talked about above, however it may be different paying gigs it’s a must to decline.

To pageant, or to not pageant?

Now even for those who complete up the worst of all of the above situations: Small stage, early hours, unfocused viewers, no merch gross sales, turning down gigs at house…

… taking part in your first music pageant should still be price it. 

It’s a foot-in-the-door and a resumé-builder. An opportunity to make an affect on a number of new listeners. A method to familiarize your self with a brand new efficiency setting. A problem to push by discomfort and acquire confidence for future reveals. 

In different phrases, the expertise alone — even when it’s removed from ideally suited — could also be a development alternative price pursuing. 

However are you READY to carry out at a music pageant?

When you’ve answered whether or not a pageant is best for you, you’ll have to determine in case you are proper for the pageant. 

Listed below are 9 issues that music festivals will search for when reserving acts:

1. Nice efficiency expertise

The time to show to your self (and others) you can constantly ship an incredible dwell present is BEFORE you try to take the pageant stage. 

Music festivals are, clearly, efficiency occasions! So that you wish to be well-rehearsed and have loads of stage expertise earlier than submitting to festivals. 

Festivals wish to know you’ll preserve audiences engaged, not flip them away, which might diminish the fame of the general occasion. 

In case your present is nice AND distinctive, all the higher — as a result of that uniqueness could make it easier to examine off a number of of the opposite packing containers under.

2. High quality live-performance video

It’s not sufficient to play nice reveals. You have to have proof. Meaning: video and photograph documentation of you sounding nice and your viewers loving it. 

Assuming the pageant employees hasn’t heard you carry out earlier than, this dwell content material (which needs to be simply accessible in your web site and YouTube) would be the major approach a pageant can assess what you’ll carry to their occasion.

Some normal guidelines for dwell efficiency movies:

  • Seize nice sound — No distorted digicam mic. No crowd dialog speaking over the music. 
  • Present the viewers — Once more, the booker desires proof you may transfer the room. If the venue is packed, seize the gang. If the venue isn’t packed, seize footage of the band close-up to the stage, after which get extra footage shut up on particular person viewers faces. 
  • Keep away from the tripod shot — The immobile digicam behind the room is boring. Have somebody maintain the digicam and transfer round to focus on the bodily dynamics of your efficiency.
  • “At house” is okay — If you happen to can’t seize video of a gig, you must at the very least have a dwell efficiency video from your property, rehearsal area, and many others. You may also take video from home live shows if that’s acceptable on your style and the viewers consents to being on digicam. 

3. A clearly outlined musical model

Try to be previous the purpose of your musical journey the place you’re discovering who you’re, what it’s a must to say, and what your sound is. 

This isn’t to recommend you may’t change and evolve, however fairly… you must’ve already made a transparent musical assertion, backed by a visible aesthetic and a way of story that resonate with a selected viewers. 

As EDM-festival organizer Evan Bailey says:

“Whatever the model of music you’re keen on, it’s necessary to have an outlined sound and try to be an innovator. Though that’s simpler stated than performed — too usually, younger artists imitate what they hear working elsewhere. Though inspiration is a part of any artist’s work, it’s necessary to essentially develop your individual sound, look, and many others. On the enterprise aspect, it helps promoters when artists have an outlined and distinctive manufacturers, too.”

Your model, nearly as a lot as your songs and efficiency expertise, shall be an necessary think about how critically a pageant considers your participation. 

4. Business buzz and social traction

All festivals wish to set up a form of cultural relevance. Pageant administrators and bookers wish to really feel assured that they’re hiring the perfect expertise inside their means. 

The extra buzz and traction round your music, within the press, amongst the business and fellow acts, and on social, the higher. That reveals the festivals that you simply’ll carry the joy issue. 

After all the extent of buzz you should attain will differ primarily based on the profile of the pageant. However all this to say, your first pageant slot will most likely be an occasion that coincides with or follows your social development and networking. It received’t precede it. 

5. An official launch with momentum

To place this merely, most festivals are reserving acts who’ve launched music on widespread DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music. Even for those who’ve solely dropped a number of singles, that counts! 

However most festivals are NOT contemplating acts with zero output, or output that has gotten zero consideration. 

6. Accessible and digestible pitch data

No matter you wanna name it — an EPK, an ABOUT web page, a one-sheet — you’ll want an simply accessible part of your web site the place you may embody all of the related data {that a} pageant planner will wish to see when contemplating your act for his or her occasion.

You’ll be squeezing loads into this web page, so attempt to make it as punchy and digestible as doable.

Your web site’s festival-pitch web page ought to comprise:

  • Hyperlinks to your music on the preferred DSPs
  • Hyperlinks to your TikTok, Instagram, and X profiles (if relevant)
  • A brief bio (one or two paragraphs)
  • A abstract of your social stats, viewers dimension and demographics, and many others. 
  • An embedded YouTube video of your performing dwell
  • Hello-res photograph(s)
  • Press quotes
  • Highlights out of your touring historical past
  • Your pageant historical past (although for those who’re studying this text, you most likely don’t have that but!)
  • Testimonials from expertise patrons, venue house owners, and even followers — about your dwell present
  • Contact data

7. Availability and dedication

This most likely sounds apparent, however ensure you’re really accessible to play the occasion earlier than you make your pitch. 

Verify the supply of everybody else in your act. Be sure each they every mark their calendars with tentative holds. 

8. An unforgettable pageant second 

The most effective methods to point your worth to the pageant is to organize a pitch that features a efficiency promise. 

Are you able to do one thing throughout your pageant slot that simply screams “viral second?” One thing that may make the viewers seize for his or her cameras? One thing they’ll go house speaking about greater than anything they noticed on the pageant? 

Your unforgettable music fest efficiency may embody:

  • A complete set collaboration with one other act
  • A shock visitor for a track or two
  • A giant reveal
  • A efficiency stunt or emotionally-connective second
  • A tribute to a different artist or album
  • A prop (however not tiny Stonehenge!)

  Work out the right way to make that second a actuality. After which put it in your pitch. 

9. Artist and viewers demographics 

Grant-funded festivals could have standards to  meet as they construct the lineup. 

As an example, some Canadian occasions are obliged to function a sure share of Canadian artists. 

Different occasions could also be guided by a particular mission assertion that might favor sure artist candidates  primarily based on style, age, race, geography, or different demographics. And naturally many festivals are pushed to current a various lineup out of a way of social accountability, or just because it makes a greater occasion. 

As IndieWeek founder Darryl Hurs defined:

“Variety and demographics are an enormous issue, as pageant promoters have gotten extra delicate to creating positive that everyone is included.”

All that to say, you’ll need to concentrate on the what, who, and the place of each the artist lineup and the attendees. If you happen to can assist the pageant obtain a purpose moreover simply being nice on stage, don’t draw back from mentioning it!

Ideas for locating your first music pageant slot

As soon as you understand you’re certified to take the pageant stage, how do you discover your first pageant slot? Listed below are some pointers to level you in the correct course. 

Begin with native music festivals

Be real looking: You’re most likely not going to make your pageant debut on the Newport People Pageant. They’re extraordinarily selective and plan lengthy upfront.

Like most issues in music, it’s best to make your mark amongst smaller communities first, whether or not they’re on-line or in your geographic area. 

To your first pageant, begin by trying in your hometown. Ask native bands and venues. And naturally, go to your native festivals!

Search for NON-music festivals

There are different causes to throw a pageant, and generally these non-music occasions will nonetheless have music phases. 

After I lived in Oregon, as an example, I performed an annual meals pageant on the river with an enormous mainstage for music. Regardless that attendees hadn’t arrived particularly for the music, it was nonetheless a big viewers of folks that caught round to hear. In my present hometown, there’s a summer season beerfest that has a number of music acts all through the day. Come for the beer, keep for the music.

So don’t be afraid to start out your search outdoors of music. Discuss to metropolis employees and Chamber of Commerce reps. They’ll concentrate on what occasions are within the works.

Plan at the very least a yr upfront

Timing is all the things. And most profitable occasions take a very long time to plan, promote, and produce. 

Begin your analysis and your pitching early. 

Meet individuals within the pageant world!

Networking. It’s necessary in most fields. And festivals aren’t any exception. 

First, make sure to observe the accounts of festivals you might wish to play sometime. Comply with AND interact! Not solely will this assist the planners get conversant in you, however you may keep up-to-date on the most recent pageant bulletins and deadlines (that are often shared on social).

However don’t begin and finish with Instagram and TikTok. You’ll be able to usually have a extra significant dialog with individuals on LinkedIn, Discord, or Reddit. 

And even perhaps extra impactful than on-line networking, attend business occasions and music conferences! I often attend People Alliance Worldwide yearly, and there are reps from a number of the largest festivals in folks and Americana music at that occasion. 

Positive, there may be an expense to journey to a networking occasion equivalent to that, however you get to satisfy lots of people face-to-face, multi functional place, get your questions answered immediately, and go house with extra confidence while you observe up on these conversations. 

And keep in mind your native business mixers, musician union meetups, and extra. If there are worthwhile music festivals in your space, there’s sure to be somebody who is aware of somebody at these occasions. 

Get a reserving agent

I do know, I do know. That’s simpler stated than performed. 

And also you may not be prepared for a reserving agent. In any case, a reserving agent expects to be paid fee primarily based on the gigs you’re taking part in. Are you performing sufficient worthwhile gigs per yr to justify their work? Many brokers received’t even contemplate you as a shopper till you’ve confirmed to tour a sure variety of days per yr. 

That being stated, an agent CAN assist open doorways to festivals. It’s their world, in spite of everything. And similar to PR and numerous types of promo, it may generally assist lower by the pile of pitches and emails to have trusted illustration. 

Undergo the VENUES as a substitute

Many city pageant occasions host occasions throughout a number of music venues. I used to play such a pageant in Oregon (on the time it was known as MusicFestNW), and it had the enjoyable vibe of a pub crawl, however with music. This provides you the prospect to start out inquiries from the bottom up — starting with the venues, fairly than the pageant organizers.

Darryl Hurs of IndieWeek jogged my memory of this when he supplied his recommendation on stepping into festivals:

“Usually festivals will work with taking part venue bookers as to what artists are taking part in that venue through the pageant. In case you are beginning regionally, actually get to know the venues that participate within the festivals. As an example, I labored carefully with one explicit venue and booked a variety of reveals there, and was then capable of speak to THEM about the right way to get artists into sure festivals that their venue participates in. And in some instances, it was a backdoor to really getting the artist into the pageant.”

Familiarize your self with the first music pageant roles

Are you aware the correct individuals to contact while you pitch your music for a pageant?

It helps to have a way of every of the pageant employees’s obligations. 

Bigger pageant employees could embody:

  • Pageant Director – Just like the producer of a document, this particular person is answerable for the general monetary, creative, and cultural success of the trouble. 
  • Creative Director – Supervises the vibe of the pageant, and may have important affect over the lineup.
  • Booker (or Expertise Purchaser) – The one that will contemplate, negotiate, and rent the acts. 
  • Manufacturing and Stage Managers – These individuals head up the bodily infrastructure on the occasion in addition to the sound/lighting for every stage. 
  • Outreach Crew – There will even seemingly be entrepreneurs, a publicist, and a sponsorship supervisor. These consultants assist develop consciousness, attendance, and income for the pageant.
  • Coordinator and Runners – The individuals who plan journey and transport pageant acts, journalists, and many others.
  • In addition to a small military of different employees, safety, volunteers, photographers, social media coordinators, hospitality, and extra. 

Keep organized as you analysis festivals

If you happen to’re taking your pageant analysis critically, you’re going to desire a central place to retailer all the information you’ve gathered. Make a spreadsheet with all of the related contact and pitching data for every pageant. 

Your pageant contact sheet ought to embody: 

  • Pageant identify
  • Occasion dates
  • Tackle/location
  • Official web site and social hyperlinks
  • Deadlines for submission
  • Submission necessities
  • Contact data or URL for contact type
  • Necessities of the pitch
  • Date of pitch
  • Date to follow-up
  • Every other wants (as an example, if the pageant is abroad, will you should renew a passport or file different paperwork?)

Make a fantastic pageant pitch!

All of your work up till this level has been preparation for the pitch. 

Now how are you going to make an plain case on your music at this occasion? 

Your pageant pitch ought to:

  • Meet all of the pageant’s acknowledged necessities (learn rigorously!)
  • Be as transient and punchy as doable, whereas nonetheless emphasizing your {qualifications}
  • Make clear within the first paragraph what profit you present to the pageant (keep in mind what I discussed earlier about unforgettable moments, demographics, and mission)
  • Embody your contact data and a hyperlink to your web site’s pageant pitch web page

Keep prepared, even for those who don’t get booked for a pageant

If you happen to’ve by no means performed a pageant, you might be in an early part of your musical journey the place — since you haven’t confirmed your self at a pageant but — you get a variety of rejections. Or only a lack of response. 

That most likely looks like a Catch-22: How can I play a pageant if I haven’t performed a pageant?

However one necessary factor to remember is: Festivals usually have last-minute emergencies. Bands break up. Artists get sick. Flights get cancelled. Vans break down. 

You may have the ability to save the day and rock that pageant slot in spite of everything. However so as to take action, it’s a must to keep rehearsed, keep prepared, and be accommodating to the pageant employees you’ve already communicated with. 

In the event that they reject your first pitch, don’t be impolite or defensive. Thank them for his or her consideration, and ensure to inform them that if any acts fall by, you’d be thrilled to fill in. 

Then make sure to attain again out to the pageant within the weeks or days earlier than the occasion. So long as you’re not pestering these individuals evening and day, that followup may arrive simply within the nick of time. 

I’m not saying to dam out your calendar for a pageant you’re not scheduled to play. Take different gigs if they arrive up, after all! But when the dates are nonetheless free when the pageant nears, examine in with the organizers once more. 

As you may see, there’s loads that goes into taking part in your first music pageant. 

From researching the choices, to contemplating that are best for you, to creating a profitable pitch. It may be a variety of work. 

However while you’re lastly taking part in in entrance of that enthusiastic pageant crowd, the work may have all been price it. 

You received’t depart the occasion fascinated with all of the steps it took to get there. 

You’ll be fixated on what’s most necessary: the viewers, your music, and the magic that occurs when the 2 meet. 

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