Festival season, believe it or not, is right around the corner! Revolve Music's headquarters are located in the heat of it all – Amsterdam. The Netherlands has thousands of outdoor festivals every year, most being in the summer but a few already starting in the early months of spring.
Summer may seem far away, but promoters and bookers begin creating their lineup... like yesterday...
The first names they try to book are the big names that will be too difficult to book if they wait too long. Big DJs and artists start planning their summer around winter already. If you are an up-and-coming Dj/artist, then there is still time for you to try to find some space on lineups for this year's festival season.
Festivals are a great way to grow your fan base. You have a captive audience that is normally larger than what you find at a club or indoor venue. I know for myself, personally, that I discover a lot of cool talent during my festival hopping summers. Some of my favorite acts and moments came from artist's I never even knew existed before I stumbled upon them in a magical setting like a festival.
Finding a spot on the lineup of a festival is a great indicator of your growing success, but mostly it shows that your talent is ready for a large amount of people to experience. Of course slipping your way onto a festival lineup is ideal, but it does also take work, commitment, and consistency.
Here's a small guide to get you started!
Target the right festivals for your music
Don't over aim, but also don't underplay. Take a good amount of time to research festivals that align with your sound, but don't only go for small unknown festivals or free events. Taking the time to find quality events that match your profile well will pay off in the end because then you can spend more time on perfecting your motivation for a few select events rather than a large slew of events.
When I worked in the club industry, I had over a hundred emails every week from artists that wanted to play at the club. 9 out of 10 were, blatantly obvious, generic and weren't customized specifically for my club but more a generic mail for any and all clubs. What made me look twice was when I could tell I had a genuine and creative inquiry to read. Make sure you come across as genuine and interested, and well researched as well!
Good sites to find and research festivals Europe-wide are:
- For local, artistic, culutural events: Effe
- For all music festivals: Festival Searcher | Music festivals
- Smaller festivals: Festival Searcher | Small festivals
Research the lineup for each festival that seems interesting, check the sound, and check lineups from the years before. Research the area the festival is in, the type of people that seem to go, what type of social media presence is there, which labels/brands are represented... etc. Research as much as you can! After you have compiled all of this information, make a better judgement call on if you think it's the right fit or not.
Use a spreadsheet or artist management software system to keep your research organized and track progress on your target festival submissions.
Several festivals have formal application processes, or DJ contests. Remember to add all of the important deadlines to your calendar and set reminders so that you don’t miss out on any opportunities!
Disclaimer: Be realistic with your goals and smart about who you want to brand yourself with. For example, making an appearance on Tomorrowland's lineup could be a bit far-fetched– but try to research similar festivals with similar lineups that match your sound and talent.
Prepare your festival application
This is your moment to be professional and communicate your brand in a compelling way. After you've researched the festivals and created a shortened list, you can get started on preparing your motivation. Take the time to ensure that it's alluring, professional, and stands out from the rest.
Create a motivation letter that is customized for the festival. Try to use your research effectively to show the promoter how you would be a good addition. Also try to use vocab and tone of voice, that they use in communication and pick up on keywords they tend to place in high importance.
Finish your letter with an invite to check out your website and music.
A professional looking website is important to have. This way the promoter can do independent research and see for himself how you are as an artist, and your interaction with your fans.
Make sure your website has:
- A creative and thorough bio
- Professional photos, logo, press photos
- Live videos
- Contact form
Submit and follow up
Now you've spent time to really find great fit festivals for yourself, made a killer motivation letter, and you've created a strong website for follow-up– you are ready to click send.
After you click send just wait :) Don't immediately begin to call, or email again after a few days. Festivals are generally very busy, and if your mail was interesting then they forward it on to the right person. What you can do is ask for a confirmation email that states that it's been received and read.
Don’t get discouraged if you don’t get booked at a music festival after submitting your first few applications – these kinds of gigs are highly sought after and are highly competitive. Keep playing at gigs, making music, and regularly engaging with your fans. It's important to develop relationships with local promoters, talent buyers, and fellow musicians.
The music industry is small, so if you consistently put yourself out there as a professional talent and sound, and a growing fanbase, word will get around, and you’ll have more pull when you apply to festivals.