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How can I play at UK music festivals? Tips to get your band on the bill.

Blog: 17th December 2015 by Louise Dodgson under Live
How can I play at UK music festivals? Tips to get your band on the bill.

Performing at festivals with your band is not only a great way to play to a large audience and win over some new fans, but it’s also a lot of fun! Take a look at our guidelines below about how to apply to play at music festivals and getting your band on the bill.

Think of next year’s festivals this year!

Music festivals require a great deal of planning so organisers are usually booking bands and artists to play at least 6 months before the event. So if you’re hoping to grace the stages at festivals next summer, you need to be taking action towards the end of the year before. You probably already have some festivals in mind but, with so many new UK music festivals popping up each year, it always pays to do some research and find out what else is out there.

Start local
Of course you have Glastonbury and Leeds/Reading in your sights but you’ll more than likely need some decent experience of playing live to make it onto the bills of larger music festivals. Starting with festivals local to you or based in surrounding areas is a great way to build your familiarity of playing to larger crowds. Many will give preference to local bands and artists so think of this as your first step on the rung of the festival ladder. Also look out for festivals specialising in particular genres – if you’re an up and coming Metal band applying for a specialist Metal festival, you probably stand a better chance of getting on the bill for this than your local family festival.

Pay attention to application processes

Applications for the UK’s many music festivals differ, there is no set way to approach festival organisers or booking agents. You need to check out what they want and this depends on the size of the festival. Smaller events may be happy to accept emails with links to music all year round, but this is not always feasible for large music festivals such as T In The Park, Latitude, Isle Of Wight etc. who are bombarded with applications. 

In the case of many of the large scale festivals, they will only accept applications within a certain time period – it could be a few months, it could be a couple of weeks. They may want you to submit a form on their website, or enter through an annual competition they run to find a couple of acts to perform, or they may process applications through a third party such as Sonicbids or Gigmit.

How The Unsigned Guide can help with music festival applications
The Unsigned Guide directory can be extremely handy when it comes to festivals. Firstly, we list over 180 UK music festivals that welcome unsigned and emerging acts on their bills, and we’re glad to say this number rises every year as more festivals crop up who are keen to champion new talent.

Our Festival listings will tell you if the event specialises in any genres, but most importantly will briefly explain how you can apply to play. We’ll let you know each festival application deadline as well, and best of all, you can search our Festival listings by the deadline month to make sure you’re always keeping abreast of the festival application windows that are closing and not miss out on any opportunities.

How to make your festival application stand out
There is no cut and dried way to make sure your band ends up on the festival stage, and ultimately your music has to do the talking and fit in with the festival’s vibe, but there are a few things you can do to your advantage.

Make sure you send a decent quality track. If they are only asking for one song, make sure you pick your best. No demo quality here, try and send your best sounding recording.

Whilst a biog detailing the history of how you met and started playing together may work in other instances, this isn’t it. Your biog or info paragraph for the application form should succinctly sum up all your band’s best achievements to date. Good airplay or reviews will demonstrate that people value your music, and highlighting decent gigs or tours you’ve played, plus any previous festival performances will demonstrate that you play regularly and can deliver live to an audience.

Finally, if you get chance to include any video footage of live gigs or previous performances that do you justice, be sure to do this so the booking team can check you out live as much as possible. 



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