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How to Book Festival Gigs

Find Festivals for your Band to Play Gigs


How to Book Festival Gigs | Tips for Playing Festival Shows

Page updated 3/1/2016


Festival and Fairs are a great venues for bands to perform live music.  Many festivals and fairs occur over consecutive days and require numerous forms of entertainment to keep visitors at the venue.  While some festivals or fairs do not have live bands performing, many others do use the services of performing bands.   In some cases your band may even be more background music for the other events going on in the park, but that doesn't mean you won't make any money either.  Other festivals cater more to live music acts and use the bands popularity to gain more visitors to the fair.

Festival Gigs - Another benefit of playing a fair is the ability to possibly play during the day instead of at night.  Some benefits of playing a day show include the possibility of booking another show at a club or venue at night.   Plus, if members of your band don't enjoy playing smoky bars, typically festivals and fairs are outdoor venues.  Many of these festival outdoor venues attract thousands of people for the simple fact that many have been going on for years.  It has become tradition for many families to visit local festivals.  This is a great opportunity to network and promote your band as well.  Gain new fans, contacts, and possibly future gigs from booking agents in the audience that likes your sound.   Many festivals allow you to sell your music, CD's, and merchandise as well.  Check with the festival booker first to see if this practice is allowed.  Selling your band merchandise during and after your show gives another great promotion opportunity for the band.

Further benefits of festival gigs include the fact that bigger festivals promote well.  Many fairs run ads in local newspapers, use TV commercials, internet ads, website events listings, and even get publicity on local news programs.   Fairs and festivals have a built in budget and may even pay bands more than a bar, club, or local venue would pay.  Pay for a performance really depends on the festival. 

Some fairs or festivals may even just ask your band to play for free for publicity.   If you are just starting out as a band, this could be a good promotion opportunity.   Although, many festivals charge an entrance fee, so those festivals should be able to pay their entertainment.  Weigh the pros and cons of playing for free and make sure your band gets the promotion opportunity you are expecting for these types of shows.   Some festivals also use booking agents to book entertainment, so be aware of that aspect as well.  Try contacting the festival entertainment booker and talk through booking options for your band. 

Listed below we list several sites that post local festivals and fairs in your area.   Research these festivals, contact the festival booker, and find potential gigs for your band.


Tips for Playing Festival Gigs

Listed below are a few items to remember when you have booked and are playing a festival gig / fair gig in the near future:

  • Parking Passes - Typically festivals have a built in crowd, so you will want to make sure you ask the booker or promoter about parking passes, maps, and where to park your vehicles.  If you have more than one vehicle, make sure to get passes for all the vehicles you'll be taking to the gig.
  • Band Payment - A festival or fair will most likely pay your band by check, although this just depends on the festival or venue.  The promoter or booker should let you know this ahead of time, because you may need to fill out W-9 tax forms to get paid.  They will let you know if this is the case.  These forms are fairly easy to fill out and instructions are attached in this W-9 tax form link.  Each member that gets paid will need to provide a separate form.  Let the festival booker know if one person in the band will receive the check or if you need separate checks for each member.  Please do your research before you submit these forms, as they contain social security numbers and personal information that you would not want to get in the wrong hands.  Also, if you pay performers different percentages, the booker will need to know that information as well. 
  • Festival Website - Once your band is booked, have their festival webmaster link your band website / Facebook band page to the venue site.   Ask them to add your band link to their concert calendar as well.  It is a good idea to check back in a few days to see if they have linked the url and make sure it is correct.  This allows your band to get web traffic to your band websites as well. 
  • Sound Technician - Please remember to ask the booker if they provide sound for the gig.  If the festival provides sound, ask for the sound techs phone number or contact information.  Let them know if you have an special gear setup instructions.  For example, my band typically uses an iPod for sound samples in our shows.  We didn't check ahead and they did not have the proper connector for the iPod to link into the sound board.  Luckily, we brought along an iPod mini stereo so that we were able to mic the stereo for sound that day.  The moral to the story is to have a backup plan when instances like this crop up. 
  • Gig Filming / Media Promotion - Some festivals will have free press or local media film shows for their local news, newspapers, or websites.  Approach the person filming the show and ask for a copy of the video.  This will allow you to have additional promotional video of the band which can potential help to land future gigs.  Follow up and make sure to get a contact name for the video. 
  • Treat festival bookers and sound techs with respect - Hopefully this goes without saying, but treating the people with respect that got you the show and sound is of great importance.  You would be surprised how disrespectful some bands are and this gets you nowhere.  Treating the booker with respect along with playing a professional show may land your band another gig in the future. 
  • Ask about the crowd - Festivals typically have a crowd that has been coming to the venue for years.  The booker knows what the crowd likes to see and hear.   If they ask you to talk about the songs or engage the crowd, it's because they know what the crowd expects.  If the crowd likes your music and stage presence, they will tell the booker or others by word of mouth.  This word of mouth can lead to more gigs and future payment.
  • Thank You - Once you get your equipment broken down it's a great idea to thank the booker and sound employees in person.  A thank you can go along way if it is done in person.   Ask about a possible booking for the next festival if it feels appropriate.  Follow up with a thank you email as well.   Of course, remind them that you would be interested in playing the next festival as well
  • Travel - Make sure to account for gas and tolls when you quote a price for a festival show. 
  • Rain or Shine? - Many festivals are outdoor venues.  Ask the booker if the band plays whether it rains or shines?  Does the venue have a covered pavilion or stage?  Does the band get paid rain or shine?  Most importantly you want to make sure your music equipment will be ok if it storms.  Music gear is very expensive and water damage is not good for gear. 
  • Contract - Obtain a contract if you do not know the venue well and they are willing to provide one. 

Festival Listings and Fair Listings

Feel free to search the websites below for current festivals.  Sometimes it's best to perform an internet search using the city of interest followed by the search term festival or fair.  Many festivals have their own websites and can be found on the world wide web. 


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