Getting you and your band a slot in a music festival could seem unfathomable at first. Remember though, Coachella and Lollapalooza aren’t the only festivals out there. PledgeMusic talked to numerous festival directors to give you all some tips.
“JAY SWEET, NEWPORT FOLK FESTIVAL
Let your people know you want to play it. Also, and it seems easy but it’s not: build a community. Building community is not when you say, ‘I do well in Rochester, New York.’ I don’t mean that community. You need to build a community that will support you. Most of the artists that we’ve ever booked that weren’t already known came from the recommendations of other artists. That’s one weird thing about us, the relationship that the festival has with their alumni and family.
Like anything, it’s not rocket science. What movies do you see? When your friends say, ‘Go see that movie or read that book.’ I don’t mean just like word of mouth, There is a safety net with Newport that when you come to Newport, it’s almost like Newport gives you that leg up or whatever, and I think there is an obligation to try to pass it along. I think that happens with us, and we are really well known within the artist community.
RENAE BROWN, ASSOCIATION OF INDEPENDENT FESTIVALS
Before bands apply for anything, they really need to have their live show mastered and their online presence tight. There’s nothing worse than trying to listen to a band’s music and having to link hop all over the internet to get anything. If your Facebook page is the link you give out, then it also needs to be where people can hear your music within a few seconds of landing on the page. It should also contain at least one decent press image and a short bio. These are all things that a festival would ask for after booking a band anyway so it pays to be a step ahead.
If a band has a steady following in a certain city, it might also be worth inviting festival promoters who are based close by to a show, but don’t pester them. They get hundreds of emails, so if you submit your application and don’t hear anything back, don’t keep sending emails or trying to call the office. They listen to all submissions but wouldn’t have time to give feedback to all applicants, and you don’t want to get off on the wrong foot.
Don’t apply for absolutely everything, bands/artists should target the events that they are most suited to and try and develop a relationship with those promoters, if the festival audience is also your target audience.
MIKE SNOW, BOSTON CALLING
Festivals deal with agents to book the show, not usually bands, so telling a new artist to just send over an email in hopes of being added to the festival is always worth a shot but likely never going to work. Bookers usually get bonuses when shows sell out and are on budget, so they will likely not ever take a chance on a band unless they have been told to do so. Shitty answer if you are in a band, but it is the truth.
BRIAN KOSCHO, NELSONVILLE MUSIC FESTIVAL
We do take submissions from anyone, we have an open form on our site and we do our best to listen to all of them submissions we receive. That being said I think last year we had a few thousand, and this year seems to be heading the same way. I would recommend anyone looking for that first big break does anything they can to separate themselves artistically and professionally from all of the bands looking to get booked at festivals. Good music, good organization, and dedication go a long way to at least helping you stand out in a very crowded field.”