The season of music festivals is a time when fans are happily flocking around stages of their favourite artists to see them perform, or even looking to discover new artists. For budding indie artists, it is a great platform to get noticed and build a fan base. Getting booked at a music festival gives them a chance to connect with a larger audience and bring out their best talent.
The best way for an indie artist or indie band to get noticed at a music festival is to start locally. In my blog “The Evolution of Indie Music”, I have written about how, while pop and rock continued to rule the hearts of listeners, Indie also started getting recognition in the 60s. It’s main fan following comprised of people who wanted to listen to something more creative, experimental and original. Indie music got mainstream attention when small bands started performing locally. While the world could think only of international celebrities singing and dancing on radio and TV, it meant so much more to see someone they went to school with, sing for a band, a neighbour’s son play drums or a relative perform live to an audience. The feeling of having personally known them would be overwhelming and attracted personal attention from fans.
Any indie band or a solo indie artist, no matter how talented, is likely not going to become famous overnight. Understand that success doesn’t happen in a day. Be reasonable in your aspirations and act smartly. Mark important places around you on a map that can be beneficial to you for a performance. Aim at getting a festival gig in these places and give your best at those performances. If you are really good, there is a high chance that you will grab an offer at one of these performances. Otherwise, you will at least become famous locally, which is the first step forward in your career as an indie artist.
Get on to the internet and start looking for music festivals happening within a 200-mile radius of where you currently are. You are sure to find many festivals coming up in a lot of places for your specific genre, related genres and even mixed genres. See what you can do to book a place for your performance at one or all of these. This is probably going to be the most economical way to go big and public.
Remember that registering yourself online is most likely not going to be free. You might be required to pay a membership fee. Hence, it is good to be prepared for the basic requirements before you go ahead and subscribe. Some basic things that I think would be absolutely required would be a ready sample of your work, a presentable portfolio, a link to something that you might have published online which got a good response etc.
The good news is that with rise of indie music and increasing interest of fans in indie artists, most music festivals now have a dedicated category for fresh artists. If any of your work has been appreciated in the local newspapers, magazines or radio channels; if you have been mentioned in music blogs or even if your performance has been discussed on a local forum, it should not be difficult for you to get a slot at a local music festival. Most music festivals just book once every year, so their calendar gets filled out sooner, particularly with lesser-known performances. Start the booking procedure early, to make sure you don’t miss the chance.
It is very important to be active on social networking sites. Upload glimpses of your recent work, or just circulate ‘behind the sets” photos and videos to keep the followers active and your profile trending on social media. Maintaining an active website is a good idea. Add pictures on your website to make it interesting, make sure they are nice and clear (and fun). Give information about your upcoming gigs. Let your informal discussions be fun and informative. Your website is going to play an important role in your career. The most ideal approach to bag a gig at a music festival is to demonstrate to the sponsors that you work at the business side of the music, and also the music itself.
Be prepared for a voluntary performance. Yes, you might not get paid for your gigs at these music festivals. Most music festivals don’t pay the budding indie artists for their performances, yet they are the most sought-after events for undiscovered talent. All you are going to earn is fans and followers; but again, you might get noticed by someone who has the capability to change your life.
Tip: carry CDs of your work to the festival to sell to those who are awed by your performance. Add information for them to connect with you online.
Just returned after a performance at a music festival? Let us know how you got it and what did you learn. It will certainly be interesting for all the indie artists looking to follow you!