6 Tips For Making the Most of Your Music Festival Gig

Summertime Music Festivals make for some of the best gigs you can get as an Independent Artists.  Parks are filled with people, there’s very little pressure to draw your own fans, and you get maximum exposure to potential new fans.

Festival gigs can also be frustrating when the sound system is fickle or the weather is fickle among other things. But here are 6 tips for making the most of your next Music or Art Festival.

1. Hash Out Your Technical Details in Advance

Just like any other gig, advance the show, figure out load in time, sound check, set time, and set length. Send Over Your Stage Plot or Input List and make sure the festival sound guy is on the same page with you. This is especially important to do at Festivals because soundmen are often running  sound for several artists in one day. A Stage Plot and input lists helps to keep things organized.

It’s also important to know what stage you’re on. Stage A may be able to accommodate a full band, but Stage B might only be for acoustic acts. Figure this out in advance because it will ultimately make the difference between bringing a drum kit or a handdrum.

2. Do Some Pre-Festival Promo

Make sure the Festival has your best promo photo and bio on their website. Does their site have a link to yours? Drop a note on the Festivals Facebook event wall saying that you’re excited to be playing the show (See 5 Rules For Creating Facebook Invites). Add a video too!  Make sure attendees have every opportunity to check out your music in advance and get pumped about your set. You may not have to bring your own fans to the gig, but you can make new ones…even before the show!

3. Pick The Perfect Spot for Your Merch Table

Absolutely important! This is much easier said than done. Putting a merchandise table in the wrong spot can result in major loss of sales. Normally for indoor shows, you want the table to be in the back of the room by the door so everyone sees it as they enter and leave. But for festivals, it’s a much better idea to stick the table close to the stage – not directly next to the stage, but nearby.

People love to check out an artists merch while they’re playing. But they won’t do this if your table is right by the stage. It’s too close for comfort and they’ll feel like they’re being watched. Trust us!  Stick the table off to the side, but still in a very visible spot. And have a visible sign that clearly  states that this is your merch table – something with your band name.

4. Know Where You’re Going!

Music Festivals have a reputation for being hard to find – parks in the middle of nowhere with no actual street address, full of people, artwork, and tents that  make it nearly impossible to find Stage 3.

Get a map of the festival grounds in advance and give yourself an extra 45 minutes to accommodate any travel issues. Ask your festival contact for more detailed instructions on how to get there. Know your facts so that your day and your show can be as smooth as possible.

5. Talk To Your Audience

It might seem pointless when people are simply passing by to go to the next stage or to visit the next vendor. Regardless, tell your audience who you are, where you’re from, and where they can find your music (hint hint  - point to merch table).  You can also find a song the audience can sing and get them to stick around long enough to be engaged.

Don’t just play for people, make actual fans.

6. Build Your Fan List

Keeping with #5, it would be a shame to play in front of 300 people and not have a way to actually retain some of those fans. Stress the importance of your mailing list to your audience and direct them to the merch table. Even better have them text you their email address right from where they’re standing. You don’t even have to use your own number. Google Voice is great for that and you can easily forward all texts to your email account (See this article). Make a contest of it and give out a T-shirt or CD at random to one of your new subscribers. You’ll have to come up with a system for  making it all happen…but you can do it.

And that’s about it. If you’re reading and you have any other tips or suggestions for others, please leave them in the comments section!

  • Erin Friedman

    Heading to California Worldfest in Grass Valley next week – perfect timing. Thanks.

  • Tosin Tosinger

    Very timely. Thank you