Read our top tips on how to play a music festival, how to be part of a festival lineup, getting ready to play and tips for the day itself.
Organizing your first music festival is an important and exciting step. You can reach new fans who just walked by, perform to bigger crowds than ever before, meet other artists, and get paid.
Plus, you never know which industry professionals might be watching. Music festivals are also about networking. It’s work, but it’s also a lot of fun.
Want to see your name on a lineup? Check out these seven tips for performing at a music festival.
Different festivals have different booking processes
Big famous music festivals are filled by artist booking agents liaising with festival bookers. Many festivals, such as SXSW, will have their own submission process.
In the UK, for example, BBC Introducing hosts stages at festivals and delivers up-and-coming artists who need that initial push to take them to the next industry ladder.
Get a music booking agent
Some artists employ a booking agent to approach festival organizers. They will have the necessary contacts to present your act as worthy of being included in the queues.
When you show up, send an electronic press kit with samples of your music along with stats about your social media and streaming numbers; and where you’ve played before, including live footage of you if you have it.
If you come to the booker with a good idea of your genre and vibe, they can choose the appropriate festivals. You need to make it as easy as possible for them to hire you.
How to play a festival without a booking agent
For an artist without a booking agent, the DIY approach is the only way. You will need to research how each festival recruits artists and contact them to introduce yourself and persuade them to put you on their lineup.
For smaller festivals that don’t have a submission process, make sure you know exactly who the festival booker is for each event and contact them personally, introducing yourself and sending an EPK.
Find out where the booker is based, and you can even invite them over if you’re playing a show nearby, so they can see you in action.
After the first contact, if you haven’t heard anything, be sure to follow up every two months, especially if new releases come out.
Build the hype first to secure your first festival booking
Get your music on streaming services to start building a fanbase and getting your artist name out there. Bookers need to see that you can draw a crowd. At RouteNote, our music distribution is free and unlimited forever, so you can put your music on Spotify, Apple Music and platforms around the world and people can start discovering your music.
Along with that, make sure you have a solid brand, both on stage and online. You want to be memorable for the festival-goers and promoters who will take you there. This means a good logo and a strong social media presence.
Once you’re in line for the festival, use social media marketing to generate hype and encourage your followers to grab tickets to support you on D-Day. With RouteNote, you can get your music on TikTok , as well as Facebook and Instagram to use in videos and give fans a taste of what to expect.
When to contact music festivals
If you’re aiming for summer festivals, start contacting festival bookers in November. Early next year is when festival queues start to take shape. You don’t want to be left behind.
Big festivals want to see a progression – that you’ve had experience playing and moved to bigger venues as you’ve grown as an artist. Bigger venues mean a bigger fanbase – which means festival ticket sales, which is of course what the promoter is interested in.
You should also try to focus on festivals in your music genre, especially when starting out. If you’re an EDM producer, for example, look for dance festivals with smaller stages.
When you’re just starting out as an artist, music festivals feel like a step up and demand more professionalism than your local bar. You have to make a good impression and start making a name for yourself, to be booked year after year and play on a larger circuit.
Aim for local festivals first. Early opening slots will go to local bands and solo artists, partly because it encourages their local fans to buy tickets.
Once you’ve played at a festival and made a fantastic impression, you can reach out to subsequent years and be on their radar already.
What to expect as a performer at a music festival
On the day, get ready with everything you need to get on stage and get set up quickly. There will be rapid changes and an unknown configuration. Practice getting on and off stage and make sure everyone knows the setlist.
When you’re playing at a festival, it’s easy to get carried away by the party vibe. But you’re there to play a show, not attend the festival, and if you act like you would as a ticket holder, you risk having too a lot of pleasure.
Arrive drunk or late and you’ll ruffle some feathers and gain a reputation that will make your life harder in the short and long term.
Start building hype for your first festival appearance by releasing your music to streaming platforms. RouteNote can put your music on Spotify and all major services and stores quickly, easily and for FREE. Learn more here and register today.