Overcome the Obstacles to Secure an Amazing Festival Gig

Tony Davies - 27 Apr 2023
Music festive with crowd

Table of Contents

Did you know there’s around 800 - 1000 music festivals in the UK every year? Everyone knows of huge festivals such as Glastonbury, but the majority are far more modest yet still attended by up to 5000 people.

Festivals provide an excellent opportunity to grow your fan base. You’ll likely play to larger crowds than normal which will consist of many people seeing and hearing you for the first time. If you’re trying to secure a festival slot, read on...

Are you ready?

Before attempting festivals, make sure you’ve got plenty of gigging experience under your belt.

A festival's a big opportunity to showcase your talent and ability to perform. You'll probably be playing to a much larger audience than you're used to.

Plenty of gigging experience will give you the confidence on stage and time to perfect a killer performance, allowing you to win over the festival crowd.

In addition, plenty of gigs should help you become more established and increase your following. This all works in your favour when chasing those festival slots.

Research festivals

All festivals differ. The most important considerations are the genre or genres the festival caters for, the general vibe of the festival and the application process.

Do some research so you can decide the best festivals for you.

If you’re struggling to determine whether you’d be a good fit for a festival, checkout the artists and bands that have played there in the previous years. Find out the experiences of musicians that have already played the festivals you’re interested in. Are these musicians similar to you? Do they play a similar genre or style? Are they signed? Are they local? Are they at the same stage as you or your band? Do you have a similar following?

This should give you a clear indication of whether you’d be a good candidate for any festivals they have played.

Local artists are often preferred by smaller festivals.

Think ahead

There’s a great deal of work involved in planning festivals. For example, festival artwork will usually contain all the artists that will play the festival. This has to be designed and printed well in advance to sell tickets. It’s therefore common organisers want artists signed up at least six months in advance. The earlier you can apply to your chosen festivals, the better.

Start at smaller local festivals

Your ultimate goal will probably be the huge festivals such as Glastonbury or the Download Festival. Initially though, you have far more chance of playing small local festivals. Local artists are often preferred by smaller festivals so make sure you checkout what’s going on in your area.

Playing smaller festivals will get you used to the larger crowds before moving up to hopefully tackling larger events.

To slightly backtrack on the above - it’s worth checking out the larger festivals that run competitions giving unsigned or up and coming bands a chance to shine. One example is Glastonbury’s emerging talent competition. If you feel you could do justice to one of these events, they might well be worth a go.

Make sure you look festival ready

Mixing desk

Festivals organisers often become inundated with applications from artists and bands. When choosing performers, organisers will be checking out bands’ EPKs as well as their general online presence.

Make sure you have a great website showing all your upcoming gigs along with a bio. Check your website works properly not just on your phone but on other devices such as a PC. It’s surprising how many sites still fail in this area. Make sure your website contains awesome videos of you performing or at least some great photos. If possible, add one or two of your songs to your website as well.

Check your social media platforms are active and up to date. Make sure you’re posting engaging content, promoting gigs and interacting with fans regularly.

Festival organisers are far more likely to book serious, enthusiastic bands. If you’re putting genuine effort into your online marketing, organisers know you’ll be putting even more effort into your music and performances.

Bands with dormant social media accounts will likely be skipped, even if they have more followers.

Finally...branding. From your website to your social media, your physical look and other promotional material, all these need to tie in together to create your unique brand. Your band logo for example should be up front and obvious regadless of the content medium. Any colours, fonts or artwork you associate yourself with should be present on all your marketing channels. Branding makes you easily recognisable, professional and generally makes you look awesome!

To sum up:

  • On your website, include your bio and any upcoming gigs
  • Make sure you have a great website works properly on all devices (phone, laptop, tablet)
  • Upload awesome videos of performances
  • Upload one or two music tracks if possible
  • Post engaging content on social media and engage with fans regularly
  • Show how serious and enthusiastic you are as an artist or band
  • Get your branding sorted

Create your EPK

An Electronic Press Kit (EPK) is a professional package that contains everything a festival promoter needs to know about you and your music.

A great looking, detailed up to date EPK shows organisers and promoters you’re a serious well informed band.

EPK’s are sometimes kept in Google Docs or similar areas that you can give people a link to but a more professional way is to have them kept on your own website.

Your EPK should include a biography, professional photography, music tracks, videos, press coverage, testimonials, achievements, contact details and any relevant information about your previous gigs.

Your biography

This is your chance to tell the world what makes your band the unique musical powerhouse it is. With all the artists/bands out there, many with poorly written biographies or no EPK at all, this is a great opportunity to stand out from the crowd.

Explain why you got into music and what drives you. What influenced you and what’s your inspiration. Tell your story but don’t waffle on. People have not got time to read your entire band history. Your job is to communicate the important points with as few words as possible.

Professional photography

Getting one of your mates to take pictures might be ok for informal or personal use but when it comes to marketing yourself and especially in your EPK, paying for professional high quality photography is the way forward.

It’s important to communicate your “look” to festival promoters. Make sure you have a good variety of pictures but don’t overdo it.


Most festival organisers will only listen to the first couple of tracks so make sure they’re your best and most successful.

Making tracks accessible is vital. It’s best to have an embedded music player so the user can just click a track to play within the same space. Alternatively, embedding a music video hosted on Youtube, Spotify or from somewhere else is fine.

The second best option is a link to a track on a site such as Soundcloud, Spotify Youtube or Vimeo.

Just remember, nobody will bother trying to figure out how to get your tracks to play if it’s not simple and easy.

EPK music samples should be recording studio quality if possible or at least the very best you can do. Adding poor quality recordings to your EPK would be like wearing a tatty old suit to a job interview!


There’s nothing quite like a video to show a promoter your ability to command a stage and entertain. It’s again crucial the quality of the video and audio is high. Content recorded from a mobile phone jerked around in the audience is not going to cut it.

Press coverage

People will be intrigued if journalists have taken the time and effort to cover you. Respected journalists will also give the promoter a valuable third party review which will further help them decide whether your band will be a good fit for their festival. Make sure you have links to all the press articles written about you.


What are the highlights of your career and what are you most proud of? Have you played a renowned venue? Have you won any awards or competitions? Perhaps you’ve supported a well known band or maybe you’ve been recognised by a famous artist. Maybe you’ve had success with a single or if you’re a covers band, perhaps you’ve played at a well known event.

Nobody else will shout about your achievements so make sure you update your EPK every time you hit one of these important milestones.

Remember to include any previous festival experience should you have it.

Various websites such as Sonicbirds and Bandzoogle allow you to create your EPK.


Attend other festivals and music events to network with musicians, booking agents and other industry professionals. Tell them all about your artistry and let them know you’re looking for a festival slot. Who knows, you might just get a call from a new contact asking you to fill in for a band that’s cancelled. Perhaps a call asking whether you could support a festival band that in turn might help you get your own festival gig.

Networking is a fantastic way to open new doors so make sure you get out there and show your face.

Learn about getting paid

Artists are often expected to perform free of charge at festivals which may seem a bit unfair. As festival organisers are more likely to book bands that have festival experience, this may be an arrangement you're happy with initially in order to get your foot in the door and gain exposure. It also worth bearing in mind the performance experience you'll gain from playing a festival as opposed to playing smaller gigs.

If you’ve played festivals previously, you might want to try negotiating a fee for your performance.

Either way, The Musicians’ Union offer help and advice in this area. Make sure you contact them if you have any concerns or problems.

Bear the costs in mind

Playing festivals may incur additional costs compared with gigs. Make sure you have funds to cover the following and have a little left over for the unexpected:

  • Accommodation
  • Food
  • Equipment
  • Leisure
  • Transportation
  • Insurance
Think about the energy/atmosphere of your chosen festival and create a set list to suit.

Start applying

Once you’ve done your research and have an idea of which festivals you’d like to play, it’s time to start applying for a slot. Each festival will have its own application procedure, most will be similar but some will be different. Make sure you respect the application process set out by the particular festival you are applying to. Trying to get ahead by applying in a different way will likely cause annoyance which could ultimately be detrimental to your chances.

If there’s a place to write a little about yourself and why you’ve applied, keep it concise, personalise your message and explain why your band would be a great fit for the festival.

Be prepared to perform

Think about the energy/atmosphere of your chosen festival and create a set list to suit. Festivals are a great way to gain exposure so rehearse well, give it your all and make the most of the opportunity.

Get some high quality footage to post to your website, social media and EPK to increase your chances of securing your next festival.


Festivals are a fantastic way to springboard your music career. Other musicians know this so competition is rife. Smaller local festivals are a perfect place to start. Make sure you apply well in advance. Securing your very own festival slot takes time, effort, and dedication. If you follow the steps in this article, stay focused and persevere, the right opportunity will come along.

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