How to Navigate Your First Time Performing at a Festival
It's a thrill to see your listing on the festival poster! Here are tips to make sure your experience is worthwhile!
Last year I accomplished my dream of playing festivals. I’ve already done four in the last year. Somehow I instinctively knew how to manage my first one. Whatever I suggest here is what worked for me as a current solo artist. Some things will work for everyone, some won't. But here are 11 ideas you can try out!
1. Align yourself with like-minded artists and organizations. It ain’t easy to get chosen for a festival. So find organizations or music support groups for your genre that may have an in. If you don’t qualify the first time you submit, then try again and also consider going as a spectator if you can afford it.
2. Pick a festival that is NOT huge unless you have a giant buzz and are going to headline a big showcase. The smaller the festival the more chances you have to meet people. Make sure the festival is a legit one. Don’t fall for a “pay to play” showcase.
3. Once you’ve been selected shout out to all your musician friends and find out who is going out there. Its great to know you’ve got acquaintances there and perhaps you can share hotel rooms, travel, or contacts.
4. Make an AMAZING flyer. I mean.. STAND OUT and then LOOK LIKE THAT for the entire conference. You have no idea how many people will recognize and speak to someone that has something unique. It will at least get them interested in what you sound like. This works for me. Maybe not for everyone, but for me. Put the flyers EVERYWHERE!!!! Bathroom stalls, bushes, I mean everywhere. Make ‘em nice enough that someone might want to collect one.
5. When you arrive at the festival, immediately go check out the venue. If you are not on a main stage and aren’t a headline act, you’ve got A LOT of work to do. Starting with those wonderful flyers. Get a poster up in the venue and leave flyers.
6. Go to as many panels as possible. See who is around. Ask questions you may have and hand out your flyers.
7. Go to the parties. Talk to people about ANYTHING. Not just your music. Be a human being. Just be you. DO NOT BE DESPERATE!!! In ain’t pretty. It just doesn’t work. Bring your cards and flyers.
8. Get some sleep. You’ll need it for your show
9. Find a place to PRACTICE.
10. The day of your show, if you see some people that you bonded with at the conference, remind them your show is that night. Don’t assume they remember. There are too many bands networking, so you have to remind people. Ask them to please come and give you feedback if you’re comfortable with that.
11- Enjoy your performance, try to relax. Thank all the people that took the time to see YOU out of 100 + bands playing and follow up with them when you get home. Maybe next year you’ll get a bigger spot in the showcase. You’ve got to pay your festival dues.
Dorit is a rock singer/songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, and Middle Eastern Dancer. She has performed internationally on concert stages, TV, film, and theatre, and has inspired many students to find to their own expression through music and dance. Dorit’s current goal is to self produce her album and complete an acoustic guitar she hand built as a teenager at the Bronx High School of Science. Her influences include Led Zeppelin, Middle Eastern music, Latin music and old school hip hop -- anything with great rhythm.
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