Playing in one of the many music festivals is a very important step in the life of an emerging artist. First of all, let’s say it, playing your music on an outdoor stage in front of a large audience, there is nothing cooler! Then, you are going to make discover your music to a great number of future fans, it is the principle of the festival. We come because we like two or three headliners, we leave having discovered his or her new favorite musician. It’s a great way to promote your music.
We know it’s as hard as it is cool to get a spot in a festival lineup. So we’re centralizing all of our sharpest techniques in this article to help you reach your goal: playing a festival. Don’t thank us now, but don’t forget to invite us when you’re on the mainstage at Coachella.
1. Develop your professional network and see who is programming the music festivals you want to be in
Having a great artistic direction and released music is great, but you need to let the main stakeholders know about your existence, otherwise you won’t get very far. So approach the festivals directly. For that, you’ll have to become the Indiana Jones of email addresses. Search the websites of each festival for the right contacts. Search all Linkedin, search all Instagram. You’ll find it like the sleuth that you are. Make a document with the essential information of these people, name – first name, the festival, the role he or she plays in the festival.
Now, make yourself a nice EPK. The electronic press kit – or press kit – is your artist business card. It has to be concise, as much as possible, you are not the only one sending music, if the recipient of your EPK feels that it will be too long to read, they will not read it. But don’t forget the main thing either, you have to find the right balance. There has to be at least one link to your music project.
By the way, needless to say, there’s no point in canvassing if you don’t have enough money to play on stage for a set. It’s good to have at least an EP. And if you already have some experience on stage, inform them. Put a short bio, a link to your social networks, and that’s it. Finally, use Groover to find pros who can get you into festivals – especially bookers/agents – or give you feedback on your music.
Canvassing online for festivals is great, but you should also do it in person. There’s nothing better than catching a pro at the corner of a concert bar or after a conference to convince them. It’s not forbidden but be careful: stay professional, never insist. Being persistent is an asset, it’s true, but there’s a fine line between being reluctant and being prejudiced.
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2. Participate in music competitions and festival auditions
Not all music festivals have a policy of opening up their programming, but there are a few that are very interested in the emerging scene, so go for it, it’s exactly what you need.
#1 Le MaMA Festival
MaMA festival, it’s 6598 pros, 5170 festival-goers, 121 music bands, 452 journalists and 45 nationalities for the 2021 edition. You read that right, MaMA is the ideal festival to meet music professionals, it is dedicated to them. In general, playing on one of their stages is the assurance of playing in front of an audience of music programmers from all over France.
#2 Open Mic
Open Mic is the biggest nation-wide search for unsigned talent in the UK. From singer-songwriters and solo performers, to rap artists and vocal groups – over 10,000 performers take to the stage every year for this prestigious competition, offering prizes, exposure and benefits to every artist that comes along for the ride. Entry is open to everyone no matter the artist, no matter the genre and no matter the experience. The competition runs across the UK with live shows and events up and down the country culminating in a massive Grand Final at the amazing Alexandra Palace Theatre in London.
#3 Tramlines Festival
Based in Hillsborough, Sheffield UK, Tramlines is a great festival to get your foot in the door. This is a festival with paid slots across multiple stages showcasing emerging artists! Make sure to stay ahead of the game and guarantee a slot in their 2023 line-up. For any general enquiries about the festival, email email@example.com or check out their website here
#4 Soundwaves Music Competition
Soundwaves Music Competition is one of the largest new music searches in the UK for bands and singers of all genres, and they will be announcing their 2023 auditions soon! The audition process is simple, record yourself and attach the link to your application form. Make sure to keep your eyes peeled for updates on the 2023 audition on their Facebook page and website
| Also read: How to write a good tech rider for live shows
3. Organize your own music festival
Wouldn’t it be a bit crazy to make your own place in a festival, by setting it up yourself? Well not so much, Macki Music Festival for example, is organized by the artist collectives Cracki Records and La Mamie’s. They invite artists who make them vibrate and take the opportunity to make the public discover their music. The idea is not easy to put in place, but who said that it was easy to break into music?
Set up a partnership; bring your friends who are passionate about music with you, and let’s go for an extraordinary adventure. Talk about creating a network of professionals in the music industry; with a festival, you will meet tons of them. It’s also an opportunity to meet artists who are open to conversations (or not) and create a connection that can lead to a collaboration. In short, the repercussions can be quite enormous.
The other side of the coin is that it is very time consuming and expensive. You can’t start organizing a festival without having a good start and a good knowledge of the territory you are trying to work in. Mobilizing an audience, even when you have the right program, is not always easy. You have to develop strong communication skills, become very serious about the administrative part, surround yourself with a bunch of solid people on their supports, we grant you that it is not an easy task. But creating your own place rather than waiting for someone to integrate you into their vision is a great way to climb up and promote your music.
In short, playing in festivals to gain visibility is a must for an emerging musician. Only it’s not easy, it’s true. We know, you don’t lack determination, so draw on it and keep your confidence.
– Translated by Betty Gonzalez Gray –
Check this guide regularly to make sure you don’t miss out on any opportunities to promote yourself!