5 essential tips on getting a gig at a music industry festival

We asked The Great Escape Festival booker Adam Ryan for his top tips on how to get a gig at the event…

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With the music industry cranking into gear after January, many eyes are now turning towards the 2018 festival season with events starting to unveil their line ups and exclusives.

The UK’s event kicks off proper with The Great Escape (TGE) in Brighton in May. The annual shindig sees many of the music industry decamp to the seaside town for three days of mayhem and for much of the business, it’s a key time to assess who the stars of tomorrow will be.

So for new acts, with over 3,000 delegates in attendance, it can be a key gig in winning over industry and new fans alike.

With the deadline for applications for this year's event on 12th February, we caught up with TGE booker Adam Ryan to learn how to maximise your chances of getting a slot on the bill... 

At what point in an artist's career should they apply to play a festival like TGE? Is there a wrong or right time? 

Only apply when you have a live show that you’re confident in. You should be headlining the smaller venues in your area and supporting touring acts when they come by your city or town. Mostly though I would say when your live show is ready and you can face having your creativity picked apart by the music industry. 

What should artists have in place when it comes to marketing and promotional assets? 

A short biog and a list of key shows you’ve played and have coming up are essential. A press shot and art work are not so important. Contact details are key and three clearly recorded tracks that best showcase you.

No one is expecting emerging acts to have loads of material online so remember that less is definitely more."

How important is social media presence in influencing whether an artist gets selected? 

It’s a good indicator for me to see how active bands and artists are online. It’s important for artists to start building a fan base from the start and sharing backstage and tour moments via social media is an easy way to achieve this. The music and live show will always be why an act gets selected but social media can certainly play a small part in winning over tastemakers.

Is an important factor in a successful application also evidence of them having a team in place, whether that be a press or manager? 

Agents, managers, PR, pluggers are all good at reaching past the application process and going straight to the booker, but aren’t key. It is important that the act has started to build a team but mainly so if they do get selected, they have someone else to arrange meetings and plug the act while at the event.

Having someone to arrange meetings and get people to your show is important so the act can just concentrate on performing. Let someone else stay up til 5am talking to industry people." 

Stay focused on making your live set as strong as possible.

For new bands who are successful and get a spot at a festival like TGE, how can they maximise the opportunities that this presents? 

Try not to get carried away and perform drunk or hung over.  Engage with people. We have over 3,000 music industry delegates from around the world and you never know who you may bump into and where it may lead. Bookings in India or Europe, a new manager or a booking agent. Its best to be polite and friendly and try and meet as many people as possible. The music industry is a fairly small world and people do talk so if you play a great show and don’t act like a dick you’ll be doing alright. 

Work out where agent and label showcases are. The chances are they'll be packed with people you want to meet. Look people up beforehand so you know what they look like. Don’t worry everyone Facebook stalks, but just this time it’s for a good cause. Each act that performs will get one delegate pass so you’ll be able to access the Delegate Directory which is a useful tool too. 

** APPLICATIONS TO PLAY THE GREAT ESCAPE 2019 ARE NOW CLOSED.** 

View our list of 2019 festivals still accepting applications.

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by Jim Ottewill
February 8, 2018
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