Friday, March 1, 2024

The right way to guide your first music pageant slot

Do you dream of headlining a giant music pageant? 

Not surprisingly, an important step in direction of that aim is: reserving your FIRST music pageant slot! 

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

On this article we’ll discover:

  • the professionals and cons of pageant performances
  • easy methods to know should you’re prepared for a pageant gig
  • and some alternative ways to guide your first pageant slot

Let’s dive in!

Why play music festivals?

This may sound like a wierd place to start out, nevertheless 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 People Competition, ZoukOut, Rolling Loud, Lollapalooza Brasil…

Impress these audiences and your music can be throughout TikTok and Instagram. As memorable as it could 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 stage. 

On the way in which there, you’ll have to contemplate 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. 

Smaller music festivals offer you an opportunity to:

  • 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 sincere: 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 out of doors gig? The reply is no.

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

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

Some issues to contemplate about music pageant alternatives

Journey prices versus pay 

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

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

Time and visibility of your pageant slot

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

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

In case you’re not aware of the pageant first-hand, ask round to realize perspective. Learn critiques on-line. Try TikTok, Instagram, Fb, and YouTube for video from the earlier yr’s occasion, with a particular search focus in your slot, stage, and time. 

Stage of pageant viewers engagement

Whereas it’s typically the case that music pageant attendees are open-minded and enthusiastic, it will also 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 atmosphere the place attendees are actually excited to listen to the lesser-known acts. 

So once more, do some analysis to get a way for whether or not precise music discovery is occurring on the smaller phases. 

The truth of pageant merch gross sales

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

In case you slay, your new followers could bounce on the likelihood to fulfill you on the merch desk (assuming merch gross sales are permitted in the course of the pageant). However it is also true that within the rush of an action-packed pageant, your viewers strikes rapidly to the subsequent set. 

That is one more space the place some research may also help you set correct expectations. 

Alternative prices

Your default assumption might be that the pageant IS your alternative. However 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, nevertheless it is also different paying gigs it’s important to decline.

To pageant, or to not pageant?

Now even should you whole up the worst of all of the above situations: Small stage, early hours, unfocused viewers, no merch gross sales, turning down gigs at dwelling…

… enjoying 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 a number of new listeners. A approach to familiarize your self with a brand new efficiency atmosphere. A problem to push via discomfort and achieve confidence for future exhibits. 

In different phrases, the expertise alone — even when it’s removed from ultimate — could also be a progress 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 would be able to persistently ship an incredible reside 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 hold audiences engaged, not flip them away, which might diminish the status of the general occasion. 

In case your present is nice AND distinctive, all the higher — as a result of that uniqueness could assist you to verify off a number of of the opposite bins beneath.

2. High quality live-performance video

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

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

Some common guidelines for reside efficiency movies:

  • Seize nice sound — No distorted digicam mic. No crowd dialog speaking over the music. 
  • Present the viewers — Once more, the booker needs 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 spotlight the bodily dynamics of your efficiency.
  • “At dwelling” is okay — In case you can’t seize video of a gig, you must a minimum of have a reside efficiency video from your own home, rehearsal house, and so on. You can too take video from home live shows if that’s acceptable in your style and the viewers consents to being on digicam. 

3. A clearly outlined musical model

You have 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 may’t change and evolve, however moderately… 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 model of music you’re keen on, it’s vital to have an outlined sound and try to be an innovator. Though that’s simpler mentioned than performed — too typically, younger artists imitate what they hear working elsewhere. Though inspiration is a part of any artist’s work, it’s vital to actually develop your individual sound, look, and so on. On the enterprise facet, it helps promoters when artists have an outlined and distinctive manufacturers, too.”

Your model, virtually as a lot as your songs and efficiency expertise, can be an vital consider how severely a pageant considers your participation. 

4. Trade buzz and social traction

All festivals wish to set up a form of cultural relevance. Competition administrators and bookers wish to really feel assured that they’re hiring one of the 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 convey the thrill issue. 

After all the extent of buzz you might want to 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 progress 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 in style DSPs like Spotify and Apple Music. Even should you’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 potential.

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

  • Hyperlinks to your music on the most well-liked 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 reside
  • Hello-res photograph(s)
  • Press quotes
  • Highlights out of your touring historical past
  • Your pageant historical past (although should you’re studying this text, you most likely don’t have that but!)
  • Testimonials from expertise patrons, venue house owners, and even followers — about your reside present
  • Contact data

7. Availability and dedication

This most likely sounds apparent, however be sure to’re really out there to play the occasion earlier than you make your pitch. 

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

8. An unforgettable pageant second 

Among the finest methods to point your worth to the pageant is to arrange 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 dwelling speaking about greater than the rest 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 easy methods 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 characteristic a sure proportion 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 duty, or just because it makes a greater occasion. 

As IndieWeek founder Darryl Hurs defined:

“Variety and demographics are a giant 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. In case you may also help the pageant obtain a aim in addition to simply being nice on stage, don’t draw back from mentioning it!

Ideas for locating your first music pageant slot

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

Begin with native music festivals

Be reasonable: You’re most likely not going to make your pageant debut on the Newport People 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. 

On 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 folks that 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 exterior of music. Speak to metropolis workers and Chamber of Commerce reps. They’ll concentrate on what occasions are within the works.

Plan a minimum of 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 folks within the pageant world!

Networking. It’s vital in most fields. And festivals are not any exception. 

First, you should definitely comply with the accounts of festivals chances are you’ll wish to play sometime. Comply with AND interact! Not solely will this assist the planners get aware of you, however you may keep up-to-date on the newest pageant bulletins and deadlines (that are normally shared on social).

However don’t begin and finish with Instagram and TikTok. You may typically have a extra significant dialog with folks on LinkedIn, Discord, or Reddit. 

And maybe even extra impactful than on-line networking, attend trade occasions and music conferences! I normally attend People Alliance Worldwide yearly, and there are reps from among the greatest festivals in people and Americana music at that occasion. 

Certain, there could be an expense to journey to a networking occasion reminiscent of that, however you get to fulfill lots of people face-to-face, multi functional place, get your questions answered instantly, and go dwelling with extra confidence while you comply with up on these conversations. 

And keep in mind your native trade 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 mentioned than performed. 

And also you won’t be prepared for a reserving agent. In spite of everything, a reserving agent expects to be paid fee primarily based on the gigs you’re enjoying. Are you performing sufficient worthwhile gigs per yr to justify their work? Many brokers received’t even take into account you as a shopper till you’ve confirmed to tour a sure variety of days per yr. 

That being mentioned, an agent CAN assist open doorways to festivals. It’s their world, in spite of everything. And identical to PR and numerous types of promo, it will possibly generally assist minimize via 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 the sort of 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, moderately than the pageant organizers.

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

“Typically festivals will work with taking part venue bookers as to what artists are enjoying that venue in the course of the pageant. If you’re beginning regionally, actually get to know the venues that participate within the festivals. As an example, I labored intently with one specific venue and booked a number of exhibits there, and was then capable of speak to THEM about easy methods 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

Have you learnt the fitting folks to contact while you pitch your music for a pageant?

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

Bigger pageant workers could embody:

  • Competition Director – Just like the producer of a document, this particular person is answerable for the general monetary, inventive, and cultural success of the hassle. 
  • Creative Director – Supervises the vibe of the pageant, and may have important affect over the lineup.
  • Booker (or Expertise Purchaser) – The one that will take into account, negotiate, and rent the acts. 
  • Manufacturing and Stage Managers – These folks head up the bodily infrastructure on the occasion in addition to the sound/lighting for every stage. 
  • Outreach Staff – There may also probably 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 so on.
  • In addition to a small military of different workers, safety, volunteers, photographers, social media coordinators, hospitality, and extra. 

Keep organized as you analysis festivals

In case 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 data or URL for contact kind
  • Necessities of the pitch
  • Date of pitch
  • Date to follow-up
  • Some other wants (as an illustration, if the pageant is out of the country, will you might want to 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 simple case in your music at this occasion? 

Your pageant pitch ought to:

  • Meet all of the pageant’s acknowledged necessities (learn rigorously!)
  • Be as temporary and punchy as potential, 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 should you don’t get booked for a pageant

In case you’ve by no means performed a pageant, chances are 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 most likely looks like a Catch-22: How can I play a pageant if I haven’t performed a pageant?

However one vital factor to bear in mind is: Festivals typically have last-minute emergencies. Bands break up. Artists get sick. Flights get cancelled. Vans break down. 

You may 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 workers 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 via, you’d be thrilled to fill in. 

Then you should definitely attain again out to the pageant within the weeks or days earlier than the occasion. So long as you’re not pestering these folks 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, in fact! But when the dates are nonetheless free when the pageant nears, verify in with the organizers once more. 

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

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

However while you’re lastly enjoying in entrance of that enthusiastic pageant crowd, the work can have all been value it. 

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

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

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