How to Get Your Band Booked for Festivals

By Robert Russell
When your band is beginning to play at music festivals, you should start small, but think big.

Music festivals can open doors for a new and upcoming band. Performing at music festivals raises the profile of the band by exposing it to a wider audience, and also creates opportunities to catch the interest of more established bands and artists who are performing. Music festivals usually have professional sound systems and sound crews that will make the band seem more first-class and professional. The best approach is to start with a small festival and build the band's profile and festival experience. Each festival the band plays is another step toward playing the larger festivals.

Record a demo CD. Select four to five songs that showcase the strength and diversity of the band. Home recording equipment has made recording simple and inexpensive. A good quality CD can be produced with a digital recorder, professional quality microphones and a room with good acoustics.

Put together a press kit. In addition to the demo CD, include a band photo and bio, a description of the type of music the band plays, a list of important gigs that the band has played and contact information.

Create a website for the band. The website should include video as well as audio recordings of the band. If you catch the interest of festival managers with the press kit, your website will allow them to check out the band to see if it is a good fit for the festival. Also include band photos, news updates, a list of upcoming gigs, contact information and other relevant information about the band and its members.

Research festivals online. Search for festivals that feature the type of music that your band plays. Another way to search for potential festivals is to visit websites of bands that play music similar to your own. Look at their list of gigs and write down the names of festivals where they are performing. Adopt a realistic approach. If yours is an up-and-coming band, the likelihood of being booked at a major musical festival is slim to none. However, some festivals do feature stages for emerging artists. New artists usually don't get paid, but performing at the festival makes the band more visible to a new audience as well as to potential booking agents.

Send out the press kit to different festivals that you think fit the band. Carefully read the festival rules and details for submitting a press kit. Telephone the festival director or booking agent a week or so after sending the press kit just to make sure he or she has everything. Talking to a person on the phone may help to move your press kit to closer to the top of the pile.

Contact a booking agency. At a certain point in a band's career, a booking agent needs to enter the picture so the band can proceed to the next level. Major festivals work with booking agents and agencies when they are lining up bands and artists for their festivals. A booking agency won't be interested in a band or artists until they have experience and credibility. Playing a few festivals, as well as other gigs, and developing a fan base will capture a booking agent's interest.

About the Author

Robert Russell began writing online professionally in 2010. He holds a Ph.D. in philosophy and is currently working on a book project exploring the relationship between art, entertainment and culture. He is the guitar player for the nationally touring cajun/zydeco band Creole Stomp. Russell travels with his laptop and writes many of his articles on the road between gigs.