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How To Get The Most From Festivals As An Artist

Photograph of the blog post author, Music Gateway Support

Music Gateway Support


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An Artist’s Guide

Festival season is well and truly upon us; great music, nice weather (sometimes) and in most cases… a lot of alcohol. For years, people have gathered from across the globe to witness their favourite bands and share in a truly electric atmosphere. 

‘What music festivals are on this summer?’

Well, there are too many to mention but here’s a small handful; Glastonbury Festival, Latitude Festival, Coachella, Boomtown Festival, Barn on the Farm Festival and Lollapalooza are the highlight of many people’s summer.

Of course, let’s not forget the smaller, but no less important, local/independent festivals. These occur in everyone’s local community; bringing people together to support local music, charities and businesses.

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Where Did It All Begin?

Festivals date back to the early 19th / 20th Century when events were commonly held in celebration of harvest and religion. They were communal gatherings, sharing food, music and culture. Jump forward to today’s era, festivals are common music orientated. Even since the start of modern festivals like Glastonbury, where entry to a worthy farm cost £2.50 and every entry received a free glass of milk, these events have evolved to worldwide events with entry now between the £200 – £300 mark. They have become worldwide gatherings for different social groups, with different likes and interests attending specific events. 

These events have become so popular in modern culture that organisers like Billy McFarland of FYRE Festival have used them specifically for promotional purposes. In 2017, Billy McFarland organised the FYRE festival to promote his company’s music talent booking app. 

What is the Fyre Festival? What went wrong?

Why was the FYRE Festival such a failure? The event was a huge disaster due to poor planning and a lack of secured funding. Guests were charged premium prices for luxury accommodation and catering only to be provided with the minimum, simplistic tents and prepackaged food.

Guests were also informed the event would be card and cashless with spending money needing to be pre-exchanged for digital currency. The guests spending money was later used to repay loans taken by the organiser. The festival was cancelled after one day. Acts pulled out, guests were not accommodated and poor weather destroyed the land. This a strong lesson to anyone wanting to start their own festival… Don’t rush, be prepared! 

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For most musicians and artists, festival season is the prime time to capitalise on the general public’s thirst for live music. It can be a busy yet very successful time for most in the music industry, generating both plentiful revenue and fans. However, you don’t always have to perform to make it beneficial for your career… 

An Artist’s Approach to Music Festivals

Performing at a festival of any size can be hugely beneficial to an artist’s career. Exposing your music to a wide audience of potential fans can help rocket your music into the success you’ve long been waiting for. Festival audiences are hungry for new music, so grab that opportunity with both hands. 

Once you’ve finished your set, the real hard work begins. Get out there, talk to people in the audience and engage with your potential fans. Hosting a meet and greet at the merch table could mean the difference between selling 1 or 100 CDs. Fans want to meet artists they admire. Go say hi, sign a few CDs and simply hang out. Showing fans that you’re a real human being goes a long way. 

Performing at festivals

Don’t stop there. Speak with the promoter, and ask them to introduce you to important industry professionals that are also attending events. Start building a network of people that can help you reach the masses. You never know where your next gig will come from, meeting the event organisers of a festival could lead to future bookings or even tours. That goes for session musicians as well!

Fancy a break from networking? Go enjoy the shows, and watch other bands perform. However, take note. Watch bands or artists that you admire and see how they perform. Compare it to your own performance, how can you improve? Every original idea has a source of inspiration; take that dance move, that power stance, that strut and make it your own. 

Don’t just stop there… Pay attention to everything else that easily gets overlooked: lighting, pyro, sound, stage design, etc. Pay attention to all the small details that help create a show everyone will remember and incorporate some of the ideas into your own performances. 

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What To Do When You’re Not Performing 

Not performing at this year’s music festivals isn’t the end of the world. They can still be beneficial to your career, whilst attending as a member of the general public… Work and play, are the best of both worlds! 

Whilst you’re waiting for that next big music festival to roll around, submit your music directly to booking agents via our demo submissions page. Making sure your music is heard by top industry professionals! Just what you need to land yourself on next year’s lineup. 

People are generally friendlier at music festivals than they are in day-to-day life. Spark up conversations with people, telling them you’re an artist. Make friends and ask about their interests. The friendlier you become, the more likely they’ll allow you to play your music on Spotify etc which could lead to this complete stranger becoming a fan. Remember, networking is the key to a musician/artist’s success.

Festival season

Have A Presence

As I said before, festival goers are hungry for music…There’s nothing stopping you from turning up with an acoustic guitar under your arm to perform around the tents. You’ll be surprised how many people will stop to listen to your music (that’s what they’re there for after all!). 

Hosting small, unofficial acoustic performances can be a fantastic way to build your fanbase whilst still enjoying the festival lifestyle. You could even take this one step further and host acoustic jams. Invite friends and other musicians to join in, and share songs and writing techniques… Learn from each other! 

If you really want to push the boat out, and you have the budget, run your own market stand. Festivals are full of them, selling anything from food to clothing to promoting local businesses. As an artist, this could be a great way to sell merchandise and promote your brand. You could even throw in the odd acoustic show from your stall to draw in bigger crowds! 

This idea would work great for musicians too – mainly those that teach. Set up a base to promote your teaching business, offer exclusive discounts on lessons and even give free taster lessons to those interested. It’s a great way to rapidly increase your student count. 

Whether your summer is fully booked with shows, or you’re simply kicking back to enjoy the music; make the most of this year’s season and most importantly, have fun doing it! 

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