April 25th, 2012, 10:19 PM
Anyone have any tips or experience regarding regional music festivals?
For a band doing original music? I'm assuming these are mostly unpaid unless you get a headlining spot or are part of a smaller festival with a big name act you are opening for.
I'm not really sure what the benefit is other than getting in front of a crowd that likes music and networking etc...
April 25th, 2012, 10:57 PM
I wouldn't assume that it would be unpaid. Most festivals I taken part in have been paid. Only a few have been unpaid. But that all depends. There might be only one or two shows per year that I might even consider playing "unpaid" just because it seems like it might be fun or if it was for a good cause or charity. But playing for the sake of "exposure" is usually never worth the effort. Of course that totally depends on the situation.
My biggest tip is to pack lite. The sound guys will be moving a lot of bands though and need to make quick set changes so make everyone's life easier and pick a set list that will make for an easy transition. If you have one song that needs some special instrument or gizmo to be wired in, drop that tune and stay with something consistent. I have been on both sides of this, as a monitor engineer and as a guitarist. I have had bands that brought in all this extra stuff that had to be wired in and than they would only use it for one song. :twisted:
Also, it is better to run two minutes under than to run one minute over. Even if it is not your fault. If the band in front of you runs behind making you start late, be the team player and help the promoter and sound crew get back on schedule by dropping a song or two from your set. Be flexible. They will be thankful and respect you for it. You will get called back. The bands that run late won't.
Just be easy to work with. You may only be up there for 30 minutes but the sound and light crew will be there for 12 to 14 hours so having artists that are easy going, professional, and grateful can make a big difference.
Oh, and have fun!:razz:
April 26th, 2012, 01:24 AM
All the regional festivals I ever played have been paid - headliner or not, originals or covers.
Consistently in the last 5 years most of the fests I've done are Renaissance fairs, Highland games and Celtic festivals. I play at those with a band that does almost all originals. We get paid, the festival pays for a few hotel rooms and a few meals and we get to sell our own merch. It all works out pretty good actually.
*And a big +1 to everything the above poster says.
April 27th, 2012, 05:44 AM
Festivals are they only way to get heard by people that otherwise wouldn't come to your solo gigs.
On the other hand, festivals are not that much fun : you play to 15 people ('cause you get one of the earliest slots) that don't really care for your music, you get pushed by roadies, technicians and the next band. Soundcheck is stripped down to the bare minimum so forget about fine tuning the monitor mix etc ...
Then again you can sometimes meet sympathetic guys from other bands backstage.
And on a festival you feel like "being part of it", eventually just a couple slots away from big names.
I really suggest you decline non-paying gigs however. Not for the money, rather because they usually prove to be very bad in many many aspects.
April 27th, 2012, 07:54 AM
My sons' band, of which I am the manager, are performing at 5 small regional festivals this Summer. They are just starting out and are un-concerned about being paid for these gigs. The reason being is that the exposure they will get can only be beneficial and more so, the experience of playing on larger stages will set them in good stead for the future. Each slot is no more than half an hour, they only need to take guitars, so there is no real downside as far as they are concerned. If they get to be headline acts in the future, is when they can start charging for these type of gigs.
In the meantime they are quite prepared to put themselves about in order to reach a wider audience than just local pubs and clubs which do pay.
I am not saying this is suited to everybody, just out take on our particular feelings on the subject.
Big John Studd
April 27th, 2012, 10:08 AM
Just as a point of reference for you, here are two festivals (one paid, one not paid) I am doing with a blues/classic rock cover band this summer.
The band (six of us) is getting $500 or $600 for this one...I can't remember exactly.
This one the bands do for free with all proceeds going to a children's hospital. They have pro sound and the backline (drums, amps, etc.) all set up. They also have a pro film company shoot the whole thing in HD and give you a DVD.
I know some people will say don't ever ever do a gig for free, but for me personally festivals can be fun to do even if they're free. Most of the time everything is all set up and you just walk on stage and play. A photo/video of the band on the stage at the Cherry Blossom Festival (or whatever) is great to have on the website. And my little kids (who can't come to bar gigs) love to see me play...they are still small enough to think it is cool that Dad is in a band :)
Some of the comments left previously sound like they come from experience and are really good advice. I've done about ten of these types of gigs I guess, and one thing I would add is write your name on EVERYTHING you don't want to lose...tuner, capo, cables, EVERYTHING. I've even gone as far as making myself a checklist of what I'm bringing in so I can check it again when I'm leaving.
April 27th, 2012, 11:18 AM
Big John Studd which band are you in?
April 27th, 2012, 11:27 AM
Vincent gives a lot of good advice. We play a lot of festivals and I can't think of one that was unpaid. Also, being quick to set up and tear down is greatly appreciated. We did on festival where the guitar player for the band before us took off and got a drink and went to chat with people before moving his stuff out of the way. Kind of irritating...
Big John Studd -- Benefits are a different story. We'll do benefits for free and enjoy them. Lots of times, benefits are much looser and informal than other gigs and can be a lot of fun. In addition, of course, to raising money for good causes.
April 27th, 2012, 12:34 PM
I think it goes without saying that benefits and charity functions are 'another story'. And I've never met anyone who doesn't do those at least once or even twice a year.
*Just an observation from the states (that may not apply elsewhere - ?) ...
Here, even new/young bands at festivals, get paid at least something (fests are one the scant few paying gigs in the states for original music). IMO you start off doing those for free and you'll pretty much continue doing those for free because hey, you did it for free before. You have to very soberly assess your ability, your draw, your long term appeal, etc if you're gonna start asking for money after you've been playing for free for maybe a year or more. Just sayin'.
Big John Studd
April 27th, 2012, 02:51 PM
Big John Studd which band are you in?
The Crimestoppas...in this case anyway. Also in two other bands, plus solo stuff, ad hoc duos, etc. Mostly just your garden variety cover bands...ie. I'm not a pro picker.
April 27th, 2012, 03:24 PM
Did a gig at a 2000 person Festival this weekend. Only about 30 people at any stage ( 4 of them) at any one time. We got $400 and drove 4 hours one way to do it.
This weekend at a dive bar and getting $100.