How to get festival gigs

The music festival season offers new bands numerous potential performance slots but how do you get them? Read our guide...


With next year’s festival season offering more events and more opportunities for new bands to perform than ever, getting yourself a slot on a bill is definitely a great way of finding and growing a fan base.

But how do you get that all important gig? We were at Introducing Live to find out from a panel of festival experts on how to do so. Those offering their advice included Coda’s Rob Challice, Emma Zillman from promoters From the Fields, Goc O’Callaghan from ArcTanGent, Mike Lightford from Boardmasters, Live Nation's Joe Schiavon and BBC Music Introducing's Emily Pilbeam... 

Think carefully about each event  before applying

Mike Lightford (ML): Think about the festival you want to play. Certain events have a certain vibe and your aesthetic and style needs to fit the festival if you want to get on the bill.

So do your research

Rob Challice (RC): Do your research around a festival. You should know what stage you want to play and demonstrate some understanding of an event when contacting them. 

Understand when the time is right to play

Goc O’Callaghan: Are you festival ready? Have you done enough shows? It can be detrimental to your career if you’re not and you do play at one one. So always think about where you are in your musical journey and whether it's the right time for you. 

Remember festivals are different to gigs


If it’s your first festival performance, then be aware it is different situation to playing a gig in a venue." 

So you’re not going to have a soundcheck, you’ll have a 10 minute line check (perhaps). Then when you do perform, the sound engineer might not be paying any attention. There are a lot of things to consider and be prepared for.   

Be professional

GOC: Get a great press photo, perhaps even a designed logo. Take the time to get some assets ready/prepared. Not only will they help you progress, but you’ll be perceived as a professional, perhaps even bigger than you are. Having these in place will help you with more bookings down the line. 

Be polite

RC: Every festival needs to know how many people are coming to an event with a band. Don’t turn up with five hangers on. Make sure you use your guest list properly.

Emma Zillman (EZ): 

Be nice when playing. I get feedback from stage managers. If they don’t like someone, it will be heard about later on by the bookers…"

Think about after your performance

ML: Think about any content you’re creating from each performance. – think about what you want to project. For example, if you play a great gig to an empty stage, then consider the photo angles and don’t include any crowd shots if no one is there…

GC: Playing festivals can be a great way of shifting merch. Be a band on stage but a business when off it.

EZ: Make friends with other bands at festivals if you can. It’s a great opportunity to network with them and if you get on, it might help you land a tour support slot.

Start local

EZ: At the start, try and make a name for yourself in your local area. If you start doing well there, then you will be heard about later. Don’t spread yourself too thin at the beginning and just concentrate in one region to start off with. 

Visit to find out more. 

Study music in London with ICMP

If you're interested in developing your musicianship,  learning from our regular industry guests and collaborating within the vibrant ICMP creative community, then speak to our Admissions Team. They're on hand to help you find the right course that matches your ability and aspirations.

Contact the team on 020 7328 0222 or via email and start your music career today.

Find your course

by Jim Ottewill
November 15, 2018
Back to Blog Home