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The right way to e-book your first music pageant slot


Do you dream of headlining an enormous music pageant? 

Not surprisingly, a vital step in direction of that objective 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 along with your dwell present. 

On this article we’ll discover:

  • the professionals and cons of pageant performances
  • the way to know if you happen to’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 would possibly sound like a wierd place to start out, however it’s value asking: Do you actually WANT to discover music pageant alternatives? 

Some festivals are superb, career-defining experiences:

Coachella, Glastonbury, New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Competition, Newport Folks Competition, ZoukOut, Rolling Loud, Lollapalooza Brasil…

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

Smaller music festivals provide you with an opportunity to:

On the best way 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 essentially 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 also encounter disorganized festivals. Crap attendance. Failed promotion. Unhealthy climate. Scammy administrators. Horrible sound and manufacturing. And actually, is there something worse than dangerous sound at an outside gig? The reply is no.

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

Not all festivals are created equal. Your mileage might differ.

Some issues to think about about music pageant alternatives

Journey prices versus pay 

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

If it’s a terrific pageant alternative, it could be definitely worth the journey for breakeven or perhaps a slight loss. However you’ll wish to assume by way of 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 if you happen to’re taking part in essentially the most inconvenient stage similtaneously a main-stage act that may draw crowds AWAY from you? 

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

Stage 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 spend money on something besides the headliners. 

Different festivals — like Portland, Oregon’s Pickathon — put an enormous emphasis on new music, and create an atmosphere 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. 

Should you slay, your new followers might leap on the probability to satisfy you on the merch desk (assuming merch gross sales are permitted throughout the pageant). Nevertheless it is also true that within the rush of an action-packed pageant, your viewers strikes shortly to the following set. 

That is one more space the place a little analysis will help you set correct expectations. 

Alternative prices

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

That may very well be the financial prices we talked about above, however it is also different paying gigs it’s important to decline.

To pageant, or to not pageant?

Now even if you happen to whole 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 value it. 

It’s a foot-in-the-door and a resumé-builder. An opportunity to make an influence on just a few new listeners. A strategy to familiarize your self with a brand new efficiency atmosphere. A problem to push by way of discomfort and acquire confidence for future exhibits. 

In different phrases, the expertise alone — even when it’s removed from very best — could also be a development alternative value 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) that you may persistently ship an incredible dwell present is BEFORE you try and 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 might aid you verify off just a few of the opposite packing containers under.

2. High quality live-performance video

It’s not sufficient to play nice exhibits. It’s good to have proof. Which means: 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 method a pageant can assess what you’ll deliver 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 possibly can transfer the room. If the venue is packed, seize the group. 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 in the back of the room is boring. Have somebody maintain the digicam and transfer round to spotlight the bodily dynamics of your efficiency.
  • “At house” is okay — Should you can’t seize video of a gig, you must not less than have a dwell efficiency video from your property, rehearsal house, and so on. You can too take video from home live shows if that’s acceptable to your style and the viewers consents to being on digicam. 

3. A clearly outlined musical model

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

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

As EDM-festival organizer Evan Bailey says:

“Whatever the type of music you’re keen on, it’s essential to have an outlined sound and try to be an innovator. Though that’s simpler stated than finished — too usually, younger artists imitate what they hear working elsewhere. Though inspiration is a part of any artist’s work, it’s essential to essentially develop your individual sound, look, and so on. 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, might be an essential consider how severely a pageant considers your participation. 

4. Business buzz and social traction

All festivals wish to set up a sort of cultural relevance. Competition administrators and bookers wish to really feel assured that they’re hiring the very best expertise inside their means. 

The extra buzz and traction round your music, within the press, amongst the trade and fellow acts, and on social, the higher. That exhibits the festivals that you simply’ll deliver the thrill issue. 

In fact the extent of buzz you must attain will differ based mostly on the profile of the pageant. However all this to say, your first pageant slot will in all probability 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 fashionable DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music. Even if you happen to’ve solely dropped just a few 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 possibly can 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 lots into this web page, so attempt to make it as punchy and digestible as potential.

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

  • 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 measurement and demographics, and so on. 
  • 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 if you happen to’re studying this text, you in all probability don’t have that but!)
  • Testimonials from expertise patrons, venue homeowners, and even followers — about your dwell present
  • Contact information

7. Availability and dedication

This in all probability sounds apparent, however be sure you’re truly out there to play the occasion earlier than you make your pitch. 

Verify the provision of everybody else in your act. Ensure each they every mark their calendars with tentative holds. 

8. An unforgettable pageant second 

Top-of-the-line 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:

  • An entire set collaboration with one other act
  • A shock visitor for a music 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!)

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

9. Artist and viewers demographics 

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

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

Different occasions could also be guided by a selected mission assertion that may favor sure artist candidates  based mostly 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 pay attention to the what, who, and the place of each the artist lineup and the attendees. Should you will help the pageant obtain a objective 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 already know 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 in all probability not going to make your pageant debut on the Newport Folks Competition. 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 illustration, 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 those who caught round to pay attention. 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. Speak to metropolis employees and Chamber of Commerce reps. They’ll concentrate on what occasions are within the works.

Plan not less than a yr upfront

Timing is all the pieces. 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 essential in most fields. And festivals aren’t any exception. 

First, you’ll want to observe the accounts of festivals it’s possible you’ll wish to play sometime. Comply with AND interact! Not solely will this assist the planners get conversant in you, however you possibly can keep up-to-date on the most recent pageant bulletins and deadlines (that are normally 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 trade occasions and music conferences! I normally attend Folks Alliance Worldwide yearly, and there are reps from a few of the greatest festivals in folks and Americana music at that occasion. 

Certain, there will be an expense to journey to a networking occasion akin to that, however you get to satisfy lots of people face-to-face, multi function place, get your questions answered straight, and go house with extra confidence whenever you observe up on these conversations. 

And bear in mind your native trade mixers, musician union meetups, and extra. If there are worthwhile music festivals in your space, there’s certain 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 finished. 

And also you won’t be prepared for a reserving agent. In any case, a reserving agent expects to be paid fee based mostly 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 think about you as a consumer 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 identical to PR and varied types of promo, it will possibly generally assist minimize by way of the pile of pitches and emails to have trusted illustration. 

Undergo the VENUES as an alternative

Many city pageant occasions host occasions throughout a number of music venues. I used to play any such 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, relatively than the pageant organizers.

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

“Usually festivals will work with collaborating venue bookers as to what artists are taking part in that venue throughout the pageant. If you’re beginning domestically, actually get to know the venues that participate within the festivals. As an example, I labored carefully with one specific venue and booked a number of exhibits there, and was then capable of speak to THEM about the way to get artists into sure festivals that their venue participates in. And in some circumstances, it was a backdoor to really getting the artist into the pageant.”

Familiarize your self with the first music pageant roles

Have you learnt the correct individuals to contact whenever you pitch your music for a pageant?

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

Bigger pageant employees might embody:

  • Competition Director – Just like the producer of a file, this particular person is accountable for the general monetary, inventive, 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 think about, 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 Group – There may also probably be entrepreneurs, a publicist, and a sponsorship supervisor. These specialists assist develop consciousness, attendance, and income for the pageant.
  • Coordinator and Runners – The individuals who plan journey and transport pageant acts, journalists, and so on.
  • In addition to a small military of different employees, safety, volunteers, photographers, social media coordinators, hospitality, and extra. 

Keep organized as you analysis festivals

Should you’re taking your pageant analysis severely, you’re going to need a central place to retailer all the data 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: 

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

Make a terrific pageant pitch!

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

Now how are you going to make an simple case to 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 potential, whereas nonetheless emphasizing your {qualifications}
  • Make clear within the first paragraph what profit you present to the pageant (bear in mind what I discussed earlier about unforgettable moments, demographics, and mission)
  • Embody your contact information and a hyperlink to your web site’s pageant pitch web page

Keep prepared, even if you happen to don’t get booked for a pageant

Should you’ve by no means performed a pageant, it’s possible you’ll 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 number of rejections. Or only a lack of response. 

That in all probability seems like a Catch-22: How can I play a pageant if I haven’t performed a pageant?

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

You would possibly be capable of save the day and rock that pageant slot in spite of everything. However so as to take action, it’s important 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 way of, you’d be thrilled to fill in. 

Then you’ll want 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 would possibly 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, verify in with the organizers once more. 

As you possibly can see, there’s lots that goes into taking part in your first music pageant. 

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

However whenever you’re lastly taking part in in entrance of that enthusiastic pageant crowd, the work could have all been value it. 

You received’t go away the occasion enthusiastic about all of the steps it took to get there. 

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

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