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How to get booked for festivals

  1. Get a Booking Agent
  2. Prepare An EPK
  3. Upload Your Music
  4. Upload A Video
  5. Apply On Festival Websites

Getting a slot at a festival is a high for most artists. For one, you get to play on a decent size stage in front of a, usually, appreciative audience. Then, you get free tickets, so you can enjoy the festival. And hopefully, it’s great for your reputation, building a fanbase and perhaps getting spotted by good.

Why do Festivals book new bands?

Most festivals will try to set aside slots for new bands. There are three main reasons. 

Festivals tend to be run by people who like new things.

The reason they work for a festival in the first place is because they’re naturally curious people who tend to love the arts and performance.

People who attend festivals tend to like new things.

When people attend a festival it’s a chance for them to experience music, theatre, comedy and the performance arts. They’re receptive to new music since they accept they’re unlikely to know most of the bands who are playing. Discovering a great band they’ve never heard of is part of the experience.

New bands are cheap.

Sorry to state the obvious. However, a festival booker’s budget is typically spent on the headliners. After you’ve booked the main slots then the budget has already been heavily depleted. Emerging bands will usually receive a small fee and free tickets. However, you might also receive travel & accommodation expenses, so don’t be put off applying to festivals around the world.

How to get booked for a festival

Get a booking agent.

Far easier to write than to do. To get a booking agent is no small feat in itself. However, it’s key to getting higher up the bill at festivals. Booking agents will be calling their contact’s at festivals a year in advance to get their bands as high up the billing as possible. They build relationships with the bookers, making sure they know the band’s activity and potential. Unless you have a good booking agent it’s difficult to get high billing on a main stages. Which still leaves the question, if you’re a new band with some good songs and a decent live show, how to get booked on a festival?

Prepare an EPK

EPK stands for Electronic Press Kit. In the ‘Good Old Days’, i.e. more than 5 years ago, a band sent a promoter an artist biography, a couple of photos and a CD. Now most promoters will click on a link. What they want to see is a summary of the band on one page, not lots of links to other pages. Your EPK should contain:

A short, sharp and factual description of you. Refrain from saying utter shite like, “The future of rock n roll” or “The biggest thing to come out of {wherever you live]”. Promoters have read the same line over a thousand times. Include relevant details – how many are in the band, the style of music, any successes, perhaps influences, quotes from music bloggers, notable shows or tours. Don’t be afraid to sell yourself but please, please don’t resort to cliche.

Embed your music. Avoid putting a link to Soundcloud or YouTube. Both these services have embeddable players meaning you can embed your music on the same page.

Some photos. Easy to do.

Contact details. You may have put these on the email but make it easy by either putting on a mobile number or a form that will send a message to you.

Upload your music

You must include your music somewhere a festival booker can easily hear it. There are so many places this shouldn’t be a problem. Soundcloud, Bandcamp and Spotify all offer embeddable players. Don’t expect a festival booker to A) login to hear something or B) to listen to your entire back catalogue C) search through your Facebook page trying to find audio clips. Including two or three songs you feel best represent you is better than including your entire catalogue.

Upload a video

If you have got to the stage where you’ve made a video, then great. Embed this so the booker can see what you look like. However, if possible send videos of you playing in a live setting. Perhaps you’ve filmed this yourself or maybe you’ve done a live session for a music blog. Seeing you play live will give the booker far more confidence in your abilities.

Apply on festival websites

This can be laborious to do but is essential if you’re trying to get a festival slot without a booking agent. Unfortunately, for many bands the answer to how to get booked on a festival is to visit a lot of festival sites and apply. However, if you have everything prepared in advance then it’s fairly easy. Common questions are:

  • Band name
  • Link to EPK
  • How many of you in the band
  • Stage requirements
  • Type of music – genres and influences
  • Description
  • Previous gigs

Most of this information should already be on your EPK but put yourself in the booker’s position. They will be looking at a long list of entries and want to scan down the list to pick out the best potential new bands for their audience. 

Good luck and please let us know how you get on! Use the comment section or contact us on Discord, our Facebook or Reddit. The Artist Network is here for artists to help each other. Your experience could help someone else so please share it with us.

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