Advice for unsigned acts on applying to play UK music festivals

Blog by Louise Dodgson under Live

If you're keen to get a slice of the action and get your band on the bill at a festival, this blog is for you! 

But first, where to start your search?! The Festivals section of The Unsigned Guide UK music industry directory is the perfect place to begin looking for festivals with opportunities open to unsigned bands and artists. You can also filter your festival search by deadline month, to ensure you’ll never miss an application window again!

But beyond finding festivals and sending links to your music, what else can an unsigned artist do to give themselves the best chance of being selected over the hundreds of other bands hoping for a slot on the bill? 

Check out our top tips to give yourself the edge over the unsigned competition out there…


Many festivals across the UK will look for acts within a certain radius to fill their emerging line-up, not only because it can be easier on a practical front, but also because they are keen to support local talent. Evidence that you have experience playing smaller, local music festivals can also make a better impression when you apply to play the big ones – Leeds/Reading, Isle Of Wight, Glastonbury and so on.


It goes without saying that you’re wasting everyone’s time, especially your own, if you’re a Folk act and apply to play at a Metal festival. Some festivals are open to all, but some cater for specific genres. If you’re not certain, take a look at acts that have played on the bill in previous years to get an idea of the kind of sound the festival will be looking for.


In this case, rules were not made to be broken! Many festivals are inundated with hundreds of submissions from bands and artists keen to play, so make sure you provide the information they ask for in the format they require. If a festival has requested music to be sent via email for consideration, don’t send a private Facebook message to the organiser. Firstly, this is not professional, and ultimately it could make the difference between your music being heard or it being missed entirely.

Application processes can range from emailing tracks, submitting online forms, taking part in battle of the band style heats, or can be managed through online services such as Music Glue. The Festivals section of The Unsigned Guide directory will tell you exactly how festival organisers prefer to hear from you.


Of course, if you’re going to be sending links for your website and/or social media to festival bookers, you want them to be up to date to make the best impact. Make sure your social media looks busy and active – far more important than the number of fans and followers you have is demonstrating that you are proactive when it comes to gigging, recording and promoting your music. 


An alternative to sending numerous links to your various online presences is to direct festival bookers to one page which contains everything they need to know in one place. A dedicated page on your website could include a biog, details of your recent releases, links to music, videos and social media, plus your contact details – which will save both you and the festival organisers checking you out lots of time. And you’ll look uber-professional, so it’s win-win all round. Take a look at our blog about creating a press kit for your band for more information here.


You need to stand out amongst the many other bands and artists that are also vying for a festival slot, so make sure you point out what makes you special. Draw attention to other decent gigs or festivals you’ve played in the past. Had lots of radio airplay and blog support? Got a particular sound that you feel will tie in perfectly with the vibe of the festival? Or do you bring a party vibe guaranteed to entertain the crowds? Make sure you shout about it to make an impact over the competition.



How to get a festival slot: advice from festival bookers

Preparing to play a festival slot? Advice from music industry experts

Fair pay for festivals - It's OK to ask for fair pay


Advice for unsigned bands and artists to apply to play music festivals


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