Applying to Festivals - It's not just about the recording
Updated: Nov 26
Linda from Voice of a Woman here. In this blog piece, we speak with Hannah Roper from Country on the Coast to delve into more tips, dos and don'ts about applying to festivals. Learn how to complete the perfect application, learn what not to do and what to do and apply for all the festivals you can with in your style of genre and music.
How To Apply For A Country Music Festival
Want to apply to a festival but not sure what to add to your application? Been unsuccessful in festival applications but not sure why? Want a bit more of an insight into what festival organisers are looking for? Then keep reading!
I’m Hannah Roper, founder and creative director of Country on the Coast, the South Coast’s first indoor country music festival. We launched our first event in 2019 and I have been through hundreds and hundreds of artist applications since we started planning in 2018. As a country music artist and a festival organiser I have experienced artist applications from both sides!
Choosing a line up for a festival, no matter how big or small, is a juggling act, there are never enough slots for everyone who applies to perform!
Keep reading for my advice and top tips for festival applications!
What does Country on the Coast look for when choosing artists?
When looking at artist applications I am not only looking for good singers but performers who can entertain the crowd. I want a mix of line ups from acoustic solos to full bands and artists from a range of locations.
Festivals want artists who will bring fans with them and bring attention to the festival as you don’t have a festival without fans!
What helps make the performance decisions for Country on the Coast?
When choosing artists to perform, I am looking for the following;
A short biography that summarises who is applying
Social media links
Music release platforms such as Spotify and iTunes
Examples of live performances
Good quality live performance videos show what you are like as a vocalist and performer. We know that in the modern world, technology enhances recorded vocals and as a festival organiser I want to know you can hold your own in front of a crowd.
What am I looking for in the applications to make my decision?
I am looking for an artist who not only has the vocal ability but also stagecraft.
Festivals are all about the atmosphere and the experience and there is nothing worse than an artist who doesn’t acknowledge the crowd and interact with them.
I am also looking for a social media presence. Festivals need attendees and artists are chosen to support the promotional activities and bring attendees to the festival. If an artist has no social media presence then they will not be able to,pro,one the festival and enhance the attendance.
What would make me choose one artist over another artist?
I am looking to balance out the line up, I want a mix of genders, styles and setups to provide variety but who also compliment each other.
If I have multiple artists in a particular category, I will be looking for a social media presence, performance ability, vocal ability, award wins/nominations, performance history, recent releases and location.
I will also be looking at suitability for different sections of the festival e.g. the songwriters round or the full band slots for party time plus if they have performed before, as I want to ensure there are artists who have never appeared at the festival before as well as bringing back festival favourites.
But what about the numbers? (Eg socials, streams, downloads etc)
Numbers are important, as I have mentioned, festivals are nothing without attendees and it is the artists who draw in the crowd. That being said, it is not about artists with the most social media followers or the highest streams. Social media presence is about engagement and activity.
For example, there may be an artist with 10k followers who rarely posts, doesn’t engage with their fans and has no recent live performances, there is no demonstration of their ability to support the festival.
However there may be an artist with 500 to 1k followers who interacts with their fans, is suggested by the fans and has an active selection of social media accounts.
At Country on the Coast we do allocate several performance opportunities for artists who are starting out their career and may not have a huge audience yet. We want to support artists to network with the country music community, learn from those more experienced and seek out opportunities to grow their visibility and gain new fans.
Here are some dos and don'ts for festival applications!
Add your location to your bio
Share good quality live performance links
Include social media links rather than usernames and social media handles
Keep your social media up to date for festivals to look at
Invest in professional photography for promotional purposes
Write an essay as a bio! Keep it to no more than 100 words
Keep messaging the festival asking if a decision has been made!
Use photos that are poor quality
Assume the festivals know who you are!
Not apply because you are new to the country scene!
For more information about Country on the Coast then head to www.countryonthecoast.uk or check us out on social media!