Throwing together a music festival can be an exciting experience filled with plenty of challenges and massive rewards.
The biggest challenge for most event planners is securing sponsorship, finding caters, booking vendors, etc. For music festivals, there’s another obstacle first. You need bands.
But you don’t just want any bands, right?
You want bands that fit into the theme of your event, that your audience will love, and that don’t force you to give away your treasure chest of funds.
Luckily, finding them and persuading them to come to your event isn’t as hard as you think. Here’s how you can lure the lutes to your next musical shindig and book a band for your festival.
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1. Start doing some research
The first step is to actually find the right bands for your festival and market place.
Let’s get this out of the way — not every band is going to work for your festival. You need to make sure they represent the theme of your festival, your brand as a whole, and your target audience.
Here are some questions you should ask when reviewing a possible band:
- Does this band play the kind of music my audience will like?
- Does this band represent the theme of my festival?
- Does this band have a good reputation?
- Does this band cost much? Within budget? ROI?
- Does this band have members that are easy(ish) to work with?
- Any references or previous events I can contact?
Remember, you’re not exactly starved for bands.
There are millions of bands out there that you can work with. But you are starved for the right bands, and once you figure out who those bands are, you can start targeting them with offers.
This may mean shredding that dream team list, but just because you like a band doesn’t mean they’re the right fit.
2. Make sure they are available
Once you have your shortlist, you’re ready to dig into the details.
You need to know if the bands are available during your festival dates. Typically, this involves calling management — not the band — and asking for a band schedule.
For festival planners, this part can be tricky.
Once you book multiple bands, filling gaps in your schedule can be a serious challenge.
We highly recommend finding bands with the entire festival schedule (if multiple days) free. It may be more difficult, but it makes last-minute changes easier.
Because let’s be honest — you’ll have last-minute changes. Someone is going to cancel. Someone always cancels.
3. Present your offer
If they’re on your shortlist and they’re available during your festival dates, send them an offer.
You may need to draw up legal and contracts paperwork with your lawyer for this part.
There are also free resources online where you can learn about the contents of these contracts (and some places where you could probably find free versions of the contracts if you looked.)
The band will want to review the contract first, at least we should hope so. In the past, this was a mostly in-person affair, but FaceTime, Skype and email have changed the game.
You can connect with them online and get the ball rolling.
4. Create social media contracts
At this point, you may think you’re done with the paperwork,and you may be. But, chances are, you’ll want them to be more than just performers.
Social media has become a beacon of success for event planners and getting the band to leverage their digital influence can be a serious boon for your festival.
Social media contracts (a.k.a “influencer contracts”) can help you establish some ground rules for social media band content.
How many posts should they share about your festival?
What kind of message should they send?
All of that can be included in the contract.
Of course, there are thousands of other contract types you may need; it will depend on your needs. You can use Rocket Lawyer to create your own free music performance contacts from scratch or from a template.
5. Figure out the granular details
Now that everyone has signed everything, it’s time to hash out the final details for the event day.
Review these questions when making sure everything is covered before you open those curtains.
- Technical setup/equipment needed for their set?
- Do they have a crew/stage manager, or will you need to provide one?
- Setup/tear down crew?
- What is their play time and schedule?
- Do they get a merchandise booth?
- Are they doing a meet & greet?
- Is there a dress code? Or anything goes?
- Do you need to provide sleeping/housing arrangements for them during the festival?
- Any other perks? Family and friends tickets, etc.?
Your next question might be, now what?
You've got the band, but the real planning begins.
We recommend starting with your ticket registration and getting your event online, ready to sell!
So lets talk about tickets.
The events industry is in the midst of ticket-packaging fever. From VIP tickets to group discounts, there are 5 ticket packages that most festivals include.
Popular ticket packages for festivals