A Sure-fire Way To Avoid Playing At Festivals

30.3.2017 by Engin Altunlu

So, you have a cool-looking band with a great sound and buckets of potential. You are ready to play bigger concerts, to play on the professional stages and of course, to play festivals.

As a musician and member of multiple bands; I would like to offer some sage advice in the form of a few hints and tips. This is my list of behaviours which you must not do if you want to play at a festival!

Let’s call it: “How to kill your dreams”

1. Write a band ‘bio’ stretching a minimum of 30 pages

Producers, bookers and organisers are famous for their love of reading multiple page band bios! It’s their work right!

Don’t forget any little detail, even the unimportant ones. Make sure not to forget the backstory of each band member including their birthdays, name of their dog and their favourite song by One Direction.

The people in charge of choosing the festival line-up love to read, so, in summary: 30 pages minimum.

2. Bad quality recordings are a must!

Your music is great and you know it! Even if your recordings sound terrible you are sure that the producers will dig it and spend their time listening intently to your tinny and badly recorded masterpiece. Who needs to spend money on ‘studio time’? We have smartphones right! Make sure to use that voice recorder app until there is no more space left on your phone. A key place to put the phone is next to the drummer, this will maximise the professionalism of your recording!

It’s possible that mistakes will be made but hey, that’s music right. Send it in so that they can hear how your band’s sound is so raw!

3.  Remember to never take the headliner position 

If you are offered to play first, refuse the offer at the blink of an eye. Everybody knows that you want to play 3rd to last, right! Headlining is unimportant and can often come across arrogant. 

If you have already fallen into the trap of playing as the headline before then make sure not to mention it in your press kit as this will only cause jealousy and send mixed messages to the festival directors about your playing ability.

4.   Photos and videos are a BIG no-no!

They say that a photo speaks a thousand words, videos speak a million and they will tell everyone all about your band. If you have applied to play in a festival then your photos can be the “game-changer”.

If you feel that they must be included, it goes without saying that on a band-budget a Kodak disposable camera will be more than adequate! Studio time and live videos should be particularly avoided so as not to build up too much pressure!

If you want to attract your real fans then make sure to strap on your spandex and back-comb your hair. This is your moment. And pout! 

5.  Don’t rehearse … ever.

At a festival, everybody wants to see a powerful and impressive band up on the stage. The people want a some excitement, a real show. So, don’t ever rehearse. This will give you an extra aura of spontaneity.

If called to audition, meet the day before and drink a six-pack of beers. Do not touch your instruments for fear of increasing your chance of being chosen for the line-up. Drink lots, play badly, avoid the concert … phew! 

6. Play only covers

Festival goers have heard the songs that they love and know; it’s why they keep coming back! Don’t write; a festival is not a place to broadcast new songs! Nobody is there to hear them. All they want is to listen to another butchered version of ‘Whole Lotta Love” so oblige and give the crowd what they want!

Prepare a well known repertoire for the people!


7.   Social media is so 2016...

If you have a large following, you have a good chance to play somewhere! These are business shows and don’t you forget it! The bigger the following, the more gigs you play. Of course your aim is to find those who enjoy your music.
Instead of using social media which is over-saturated and old news, why not go at it à la hipster and spend some money and time printing of flyers and handing them out on the street corner. This is a tried and tested method proving to be 65% effective, every time!

What can you get on social media that you can’t in real life. Likes and shares. Useless! What can you do with that?! You don’t even pay for it so it can’t do anything right? Never forget that you are a professional band who are above such things as free accounts…

I hope that this article has given you all a good idea of how to make sure that you never play at a festival or, heaven forbid, headline! If you have anything to add then don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

Disclaimer: This article is meant in jest and is not to be taken seriously. Please do not follow any of these pointers if you do truly wish to play at a festival!