Guidance for new bands wanting to get booked at festivals

The Indispensible Festivals Guide

published: Thu 10th Dec 2009

If you are an unsigned band who is looking to get a festival booking in the summer, here is some advice about how you should go about trying to get a booking from a festival organiser.

Most Festival organisers get inundated with cds and emails from bands they've never heard of, all wishing to play their festivals.

My advice is:
  • Target those festivals that look appropriate for you - there's no point a drum 'n' bass outfit contacting a traditional folk festival (but you'd be amazed how many do!)

  • Try to stand out from the crowd and make sure any publicity package looks professional.

  • If emailing, include a clickable link to a MySpace site or similar where anyone interested in you can see what you're about. A good live video on the site that has instant impact in the first few seconds of viewing can help.

  • If you've a fanbase / email database and genuinely believe you can shift some tickets for any festival that books you, say so.

  • If you're willing to play for little or no money in order to get exposure, say so.

  • If you've a bit of a local following in your area, then target first those festivals within easy travelling distance for your fanbase - nearby organisers may already know of you.

  • Be prepared for the fact that many organisers won't even reply (sorry - I get over 50 approaches a day and just don't have time to reply to them all) - be prepared to follow-up with a phone call to those festivals you think are your best bet for a booking - don't be put off by lots of rejections - if you've faith in your own ability then keep going.
It's not easy to get bookings when there are so many unsigned artists chasing available slots. Remember festival organisers need to book artists who will help sell tickets. But most small to medium size festivals still have room for interesting new artists who, in some way, attract the attention of whoever is doing the booking. Everyone starts somewhere!

by Peter Chegwyn
Organiser, Wickham Festival and
Gosport & Fareham Easter Festival

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