How to Book Festival Gigs | Tips
for Playing Festival Shows
Page updated 3/1/2016
Festival and Fairs are a great venues for bands to
perform live music. Many festivals and fairs occur
over consecutive days and require numerous forms of
entertainment to keep visitors at the venue. While
some festivals or fairs do not have live bands
performing, many others do use the services of
performing bands. In some cases your band
may even be more background music for the other events
going on in the park, but that doesn't mean you won't
make any money either. Other festivals cater more
to live music acts and use the bands popularity to gain
more visitors to the fair.
Festival Gigs - Another benefit of playing a fair is the ability to
possibly play during the day instead of at night. Some
benefits of playing a day show include the possibility of
booking another show at a club or venue at night.
Plus, if members of your band don't enjoy playing smoky
bars, typically festivals and fairs are outdoor venues.
Many of these festival outdoor venues attract thousands of
people for the simple fact that many have been going on for
years. It has become tradition for many families to
visit local festivals. This is a great opportunity to
network and promote your band as well. Gain new fans,
contacts, and possibly future gigs from booking agents in the
audience that likes your sound. Many festivals
allow you to sell your music, CD's, and merchandise as well.
Check with the festival booker first to see if
this practice is allowed. Selling your band merchandise during
and after your show gives another great promotion
opportunity for the band.
Further benefits of festival gigs include the fact that
bigger festivals promote well. Many fairs run ads in
local newspapers, use TV commercials, internet ads, website
events listings, and even get
publicity on local news programs. Fairs and
festivals have a built in budget and may even pay bands more
than a bar, club, or local venue would pay. Pay for a
performance really depends on the festival.
Some fairs or
festivals may even just ask your band to play for free for
publicity. If you are just starting out as a
band, this could be a good promotion opportunity.
Although, many festivals charge an entrance fee, so those festivals
should be able to pay their entertainment. Weigh the
pros and cons of playing for free and make sure your band
gets the promotion opportunity you are expecting for these
types of shows. Some festivals also use booking
agents to book entertainment, so be aware of that aspect as
well. Try contacting the festival entertainment booker
and talk through booking options for your band.
Listed below we list several sites that post local
festivals and fairs in your area. Research these
festivals, contact the festival booker, and find potential
gigs for your band.
Tips for Playing Festival Gigs
Listed below are a few items to remember when you have
booked and are playing a festival gig / fair gig in the near
- Parking Passes - Typically
festivals have a built in crowd, so you will want to
make sure you ask the booker or promoter about parking
passes, maps, and where to park your vehicles. If
you have more than one vehicle, make sure to get passes
for all the vehicles you'll be taking to the gig.
- Band Payment - A festival or fair
will most likely pay your band by check, although this
just depends on the festival or venue. The
promoter or booker should let you know this ahead of
time, because you may need to fill out
W-9 tax forms to get paid. They will let you
know if this is the case. These forms are fairly
easy to fill out and instructions are attached in this
W-9 tax form link. Each member that gets paid
will need to provide a separate form. Let the
festival booker know if one person in the band will
receive the check or if you need separate checks for
each member. Please do your research before you
submit these forms, as they contain social security
numbers and personal information that you would not want
to get in the wrong hands. Also, if you pay
performers different percentages, the booker will need
to know that information as well.
- Festival Website - Once your band
is booked, have their festival webmaster link your
band website /
Facebook band page
to the venue site. Ask them to add your band
link to their concert calendar as well. It is a
good idea to check back in a few days to see if they
have linked the url and make sure it is correct.
This allows your band to get web traffic to your band
websites as well.
- Sound Technician - Please remember
to ask the booker if they provide sound for the gig.
If the festival provides sound, ask for the sound techs
phone number or contact information. Let them know
if you have an special gear setup instructions.
For example, my band typically uses an iPod for sound
samples in our shows. We didn't check ahead and
they did not have the proper connector for the iPod to
link into the sound board. Luckily, we brought
along an iPod mini stereo so that we were able to mic
the stereo for sound that day. The moral to the
story is to have a backup plan when instances like this
- Gig Filming / Media Promotion -
Some festivals will have free press or local media film
shows for their local news, newspapers, or websites.
Approach the person filming the show and ask for a copy
of the video. This will allow you to have
additional promotional video of the band which can
potential help to land future gigs. Follow up and
make sure to get a contact name for the video.
- Treat festival bookers and sound techs with
respect - Hopefully this goes without saying,
but treating the people with respect that got you the
show and sound is of great importance. You would
be surprised how disrespectful some bands are and this
gets you nowhere. Treating the booker with respect
along with playing a professional show may land your
band another gig in the future.
- Ask about the crowd - Festivals
typically have a crowd that has been coming to the venue
for years. The booker knows what the crowd likes
to see and hear. If they ask you to talk
about the songs or engage the crowd, it's because they
know what the crowd expects. If the crowd likes
your music and stage presence, they will tell the booker
or others by word of mouth. This word of mouth can
lead to more gigs and future payment.
- Thank You - Once you get your
equipment broken down it's a great idea to thank the
booker and sound employees in person. A thank you
can go along way if it is done in person.
Ask about a possible booking for the next festival if it
feels appropriate. Follow up with a thank you
email as well. Of course, remind them that
you would be interested in playing the next festival as
- Travel - Make sure to account for
gas and tolls when you quote a price for a festival
- Rain or Shine? - Many festivals are
outdoor venues. Ask the booker if the band plays
whether it rains or shines? Does the venue have a
covered pavilion or stage? Does the band get paid
rain or shine? Most importantly you want to make
sure your music equipment will be ok if it storms.
Music gear is very expensive and water damage is not
good for gear.
Contract - Obtain a contract if you do not know the
venue well and they are willing to provide one.
Festival Listings and Fair Listings
Feel free to search the websites below for current
festivals. Sometimes it's best to perform an internet
search using the city of interest followed by the search
term festival or fair. Many festivals have their own
websites and can be found on the world wide web.
Gig Resources for Bands