Expert Music Career Advice For DIY Musicians

5 Tips for Playing Your First Festival

Marketing & Promotion

Oct 16, 2013 04:47 PM

Robert Nicholson

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You just booked your first festival. Hell Yeah! The days of basement shows are over! (Just kidding, basement shows rule, and no one should ever turn down a good party.) So, the music gods sent down a lightning bolt of fun, and gave you a month to plan. Before you start putting together your own DIY light pyramid, let’s go back to the basics and get you ready to play. First off, festivals are a convivial gathering of dancing, sunshine, and day drinking. Your audience is going to be stellar. Everyone is having a good time. It is up to you to sway their drunken little hearts, and get them groovin’. Here are five tips on how to take advantage of your slot, make the most of your time, and gain a few fans along the way.

1.) Let The Crowd Know What You are Playing

You just laid down your best song, and the crowd went going nuts. After the show someone comes up to you and asks you what the name of the song was. You tell them and they walk away. Chances are other people in the crowd want to know too. Before you rip into your song, tell the audience the title. If they dig it, it will stick with them, and you got yourself a fan. Introduce your band, and your songs. Make a name for yourself.

2.) Give Away Free Merch

After you finish your set run over the side of the stage where you stashed your box of cds and toss those suckers into the crowd. Unless you are one of the top bands performing at the festival, chances of getting a spot at the merch table are slim. Use the last few moments before you walk off stage to give away something to the crowd. People love free stuff; hook them up!

3.) Play a Cover

Yup, that’s right: play a cover. The days of cover taboo are over. As mentioned before, not everyone is going to know who you are, so to win the crowd over toss in a tune they will all know. Make sure it is a classy cover, and not a musical cliché. Cover faux pas are the worst, and will kill your cred before you leave the stage. If you can’t figure out what to play, do a Bowie track. The dude rules, and is cool as hell.

4.) Meet Other Bands

After you finish playing your set, have some fun. Enjoy the music and meet other bands. Backstage at festivals get wild. Bounce around, and talk to people. Do some networking. As an artist, you should pick the brains of as many other talents as possible. Use this time wisely. If there is a band you’d like to meet, go find them. Get their contact info, and stay in touch. You might just find your next touring partners.

5.) Play Your Best Show Yet

Chances are this is your largest show yet. Bring the ruckus, and play your soul out. Leave everything on stage. This is your first festival; don’t make it your last. Remember this is your chance to play in front of a bunch of people who don’t know who you are. Win them over, and gain some fans. We are not saying burn your guitar (unless you want to torch your drum set, that would be rad) just bring your all, and make it worth it.

There you go, our tips on how to play your first festival. Of course they are many more, and a lot of other things that will only come with experience. Keep on practicing, play as many gigs as you can, and enjoy that festival.

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