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Festival Circuitry

July 7, 2011

For many single or group artists the argument or whether or not to apply for a particular festival often comes up. There are many factors to this decision and ultimately a gut feeling should be trusted though finances weigh heavily on possibility and choices. A festival can even make a career or be the beginning of proper doors opening but it can be difficult to stand out in the massive crowd of bands and industry people.

One of the basic points is money, can you as an artist feasibly travel to said festival without becoming greatly indebted or taking massive time off work. Festivals can be filled with large industry people who if you are lucky may help propel you onto a stadium stage but this is generally a long shot. If you plan to do this make sure to do loads of advance work promoting your show and inviting as many industry people as possible.

Take a look at the festivals history and current schedule, if you can only name a few artists you know or like chances are that there will not be much of a crowd and few fans gained at your show. Most major or even medium sized festivals spend a large sum of cash and time on promotion and this can equal loads of free publicity for you. Unfortunately you have to make sure the people being advertised too will take a listen to you because much like trying to convince a cat to take a bath nobody wins in this case.

Even if offered a spot on a massive or a favourite festival do not stray too far outside of the fanbase. Almost no festival in the world manages to fill a venue for a band no one has heard of. It may look incredible to have on your bio that you played SXSW but if you played to a room of 15 people while everyone else was waiting on the other side of town to see the headliner then nobody will have actually known you played.

The pros can be huge and while the chances are small that it will greatly change your career or popular but it can gain some fans and always looks good on the resume to play a festival. Playing for multiple festivals can be expensive with application fees but you can book an entire tour around it if done right and the merch sales at them can be spectacular at times. Like most things in the music industry festivals can be a great opportunity or a dangerous pitfall.

-Hassan

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