There’s nothing quite like festival season in the music industry. Whether you’re a fan going to see your favorite bands, the band playing one of the stages, or industry working the event, there’s just something kind of magical about the whole thing. It’s an atmosphere unlike any other.
But this is a blog that’s dedicated to helping you take your music career to the next level, so you know we’re about to dish out some tips that will help you do exactly that. Designed with the DIY artist in mind, we’ve put together a list of 3 ways you can make the most of summer festival season, from both inside and outside the festival gates.
Network at the Festival
This one is pretty obvious, but you want to use every opportunity presented to you to build your relationships with future and current fans, industry, and artists. Truth be told you should be working on this every day in every way, but festivals are a particularly fruitful time to do this. A few ideas to get you started in building your relationships with:
Fans: There’s a reason standing outside festival gates, chatting with people in line, and giving away or selling your music for super cheap is a standby. Most of the time they’ll be happy to chat with you and make a new friend (it’s the magic of the festival atmosphere!) and because you’re getting one-on-one face time you’re much more likely to make a lasting impression. Just be sure you’re taking time to listen more than you speak and get to know them. Don’t monopolize the conversation or just lead with “Hi I’m in a band, want to listen to my music?” Ask them who they’re most excited to see, if they’ve been to the festival before, where they’re from, etc. The more you let them talk, the more connected to you they’re likely to feel.
Industry: It can be tough to spot certain industry members at festivals, because it’s not like they’re carrying around a big sign that says “I’m with X Company.” A lot of times they’ll just blend in with the fans. However, there’s two times you know for sure someone is in the industry and luckily they both present easy ways to get to know them.
The first is merch booths. Usually the people working a band’s merch booth are involved in the industry in some way and I can almost guarantee 9 times out of 10 they’ll be thrilled to have you stop by for a conversation. Again, this is about building a relationship not selling yourself, so take the time to get to know them instead of just talking about yourself or what you want from them. In fact, don’t even ask anything of them right now. Just get to know them and find a way to keep in touch.
The second is photographers. When you see someone with a professional camera wandering around, ask them what site they’re shooting for, and if you can grab their card so you can check out the photos. Even if they don’t have a card, write down their name and the site they shoot for so you can follow up with them later. If possible, don’t let the conversation end there! A little bit of banter (“Who has been the most fun to photo/who are you most looking forward to photographing?”) can help them to remember you when you reach out a few days later to compliment their work.
Other bands: There are always local and emerging bands that are touting around signs displaying their set time. Just like we’ve talked about with the rest of this list, take the time to get to know them, get their info, and follow up with some kind words and memorable details from your conversation so they know who you are (“I’m the one that had pink hair”/”You loved my cat tshirt”/etc)
Put on your own local fest
Who says only one festival can roll through town this summer? While this one is a bit of an undertaking, it’s a pretty fun one. Putting on your own mini festival in your hometown is a great way to not only gain experience in booking, PR, and marketing, but it’s an incredible way to build relationships, connect with other bands and local industry, and expand your fanbase. Maybe you’ll even discover a new passion!
Not only is this a great way to jump on the festival train, but it gives you extra social media boost and a chance to connect with your fans in a new and fun way. Each Friday from late May through late August or September you can cover one song from an artist that’s doing the major festival circuit. I recommend doing it as a FB live, since Facebook pushes those well and it allows you time to also do a live Q&A if you want, but if you’re a little shy, pre-recording is a good start.
And don’t forget to take requests from your fans! It’ll give you a chance to interact with them and for them to feel included and part of the process. It’s a win-win.