How to get a festival slot - essential advice from festival bookers!

Blog by Louise Dodgson under Live

We chatted to a number of festival bookers to get their essential advice on what they're looking for from festival applications, and what you can do to stand out!

Adam Ryan, Head of Music, The Great Escape
The Great Escape is an international festival which attracts tens of thousands of festival goers and music industry delegates from across the globe every year, and showcases 500 emerging artists. Playing TGE is a great opportunity to get yourself in front of new audiences who can help open many other doors for you.

“Don’t rush your application: Don’t leave registration until the last minute and end up submitting something that doesn’t do your band justice. Take your time compiling your info to ensure that it is something that represents your band well.

Your tracks: Keep things simple. We don’t need to hear the last 3 albums you self recorded at home and your experimental period which is hard to play live as your harpist works weekends. Only include links to a few tracks that best represent you and your current direction. Try and make sure the sound on your included tracks is of a good quality, things don’t have to be high tech but a clear recording is definitely essential.

Artist Bio: Again, keeping things to a minimum is best. Inspirations, influences, previous shows played and upcoming dates are useful information to share. The drummer’s favourite type of food or how the band met aren’t so important. Try to keep it short and concise, or you risk losing your reader.

Press Shots: I personally hate band press shots and from my experience they just get posted up on office walls and ridiculed (not in the TGE office of course). That picture showcasing your mum’s hairdressing skills while you lean against a wall might seem like a good idea but they tend to date quickly. Just a simple, decent quality photo that best represents your band/artist is all that is needed.

We receive a huge number of applications each year so make sure you are using your application to prove to us why you stand out from the rest.”

Neal Thompson, Co-Founder, FOCUS Wales
An annual showcase for the Welsh music industry, FOCUS Wales will celebrate its 8th anniversary this year. It welcomes exciting emerging acts from around the world to play at a jam-packed programme of events held across Wrexham.

“We have around 2,000 applications every year from bands from around the world wanting to play at FOCUS Wales. Standing out in a large number like that for a band or performer can be difficult.

Bookers want to know what your band is all about in the shortest time possible. So I'd always recommend having a good quality video of a live performance of a song that really says what your act is about. It saves their time and gets you ahead of the pack.”

Production/Booking Team, Liverpool Sound City
The award-winning metropolitan festival of live music takes over a wide variety of interesting spaces to deliver the very best breakthrough acts and major names both from across the UK and abroad. Liverpool Sound City also hosts independent record label parties and showcases hand-picked by a panel of acclaimed regional, national and international curators. Here’s a breakdown of their process in selecting artists to play and what they look for.

“Firstly we have a listen to all the artists, along with the rest of the team, so it’s not just one persons perspective. We look to see how established an act is, how hard-working in terms of setting up their own shows, releases etc. Proactivity is easy to pick up on a band’s social media. So if they are not active and pushing things on there, it’s doubtful they are as committed as they should be.

All in all a combination of great music, strong identity, hard working and proactive online presence is what we’re looking for. Sometimes some acts just naturally stand out and grab your attention too!”

Booking Team, Lakefest
Since its first event in 2012, Lakefest held at Eastnor Castle Deer Park, has been all about introducing their audience to new music and building a new fanbase for emerging artists.

“Do have a strong and positive online presence, do stay original, do submit live and studio videos with good acoustics, do remain likeable in communication and on video, and finally do entertain us!”

Don’t submit poor-quality recordings, don’t give any indication that you may be difficult to work with, and don’t send a track if you know it won't grab our attention; first impressions count!”

Booking Team, Tramlines
Tramlines aims to showcase the best music, food and drinks and cultural experiences that Sheffield has to offer. With multiple stages across the city, 2018 will see the urban festival celebrate 10 years.

“We always look at social media following & previous posts when we’re dealing with a new band. If possible provide a link to all your information in one place. Private messages on Facebook etc can be an inconvenience, so make sure you stick to the application rules.”

Daniel Mawer, Humber Street Sesh
Located around Hull’s marina, Humber Street Sesh has drawn crowds of more than 30,000 in previous years. They aim to programme over 200 original bands and acts across 16 stages over the 2 day event.

“Provide a good quality image, a succinct biography, as well as appropriate links to your music. When writing your biog, you don’t need to give us a long history of how you all met, your favourite movies and what your favourite fruit is (strawberries if you’re asking!), just a short piece that references what you sound like, who your influences are and what achievements you’ve had is great!

Music videos really help us get a good idea of who you are, so please remember to include yours if you have a specific video you’re proud of. Regarding live footage, please consider whether your mum’s shaky camera phone footage on YouTube best shows off your performance. If you don’t have a live video you’re really proud of, don’t worry! It’s better to leave that section blank and let your recordings do the talking.”


Music festival bookers offer advice to unsigned bands about how to get a festival slot


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