Tips For Artists: Applying to Festivals
Updated: Oct 28
This is the first in a series of blogs about the dos and don’ts of applying to festivals and the plan is to have festival organisers give their advice and guidance on the application process and what you need to apply. Each festival you apply for is very different in style and feel and this guidance will hopefully help you. Have you any tips you would like to share? What have you learned from the application process yourself. Here is Marina Blore, who organises and runs The British Country Music Festival in Blackpool which runs in the first weekend of September in the Fabulous Winter Garden, with the information you need for applying to TBCMF. .
THE BRITISH COUNTRY MUSIC FESTIVAL
It’s that time of year when festivals are welcoming applications from artists, agents and talent managers for events being planned for 2023 and The British Country Music Festival in Blackpool is no exception. Every year, we are forced to make tough decisions and omit some artists with amazing talent, purely because we have a specific number of slots to fill and a limited budget to work with to ensure that the festival remains viable.
Out of the 100’s of submissions we receive through our Apply to Play process via our website, there are always those that should never have applied in the first place. Our application form has been created to provide us with the information we need to make an informed decision on each singer-songwriter. The information we ask for is relevant for our festival and we listen to every application.
DO’s and DON’T’s to help you prepare a submission that has the most chance of succeeding:
DO - read about our festival in advance of applying. Understand our ethos, our objectives and who has performed in previous years. We primarily promote UK original singer-songwriters performing contemporary country, Americana, roots, blues, folk, and all sub genres such as country pop, country rock etc.
DON’T – apply if you are not writing songs in the above genres. Too often we get submissions from reggae or electric pop bands, covers bands, American country and western bands, English country and western bands and performers that are not in the contemporary country/Americana genre.
DO – make sure you are on Spotify if possible. We listen to Soundcloud etc but Spotify helps to identify a fanbase. However, we don’t always take artists with a large number of followers, certainly for the support stages. But for the main stage headline slots, we would expect your Spotify followers to be significant. Make sure your song links include a mix of ballads and up-tempo songs. Don’t send songs with 32 bar intros, we have 100’s of songs to listen to and if we are forced to wait a couple of minutes before we begin to hear you sing, it’s not a great start.
YouTube clips are useful if they are professionally filmed and can be the difference between you getting a slot, or if they are of poor quality, to losing out. Make sure you send footage that shows how you would look and sound performing at the festival if you were successful in your application.
DON’T – send us links that don’t work or links to all slow ballads. Don’t send YouTube links of you performing solo and then ask for a slot at the festival with a six-piece band. Show us how you could look on our stages.
DO - Work on your marketing and PR. Focus on engaging with and increasing your fan base to show that your music has an audience.
Invest in good photography, tell us about yourself/the band on the application in a genuine way and what makes you different or your ambitions for your music. Whilst it’s useful to list #1’s on the iTunes country music chart and UK awards you’ve won or been nominated for, be mindful that around three quarters of applications are stating the same achievements. Make your application stand out.
We are more excited to read about how you are working on furthering your career, your ambitions, your commitment to your music and what drives your love of song-writing. We relate more to a personal approach than a corporate one.
DON’T – shy away from getting a good agent or manager. All festival promoters work closely with artist representatives.
If you don’t succeed with your first application, try again the following year. We have had artists who have got through on their third attempt. This can be for any number of reasons. You will change and mature as an artist over time, or we may have an overwhelming amount of applications from one style of artist one year that makes it harder to break through and the following year may be different.
If you are lucky enough to secure a performance slot at any festival, as promoters we are providing you with an audience who could potentially purchase your music and become lifelong fans. Having a setlist with the right change of pace throughout is crucial. You must also work on your stage craft, your confidence, your “patter” in between songs to make it interesting. It’s the stories that stay in people’s memories as well as the music, so work out your script in advance.
Good luck and here’s to a great 2023 of sharing the live music experience.
To submit an application for The British Country Music Festival click here:
Closing date 21st October 11.59pm