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How to Get Booked to Perform At Music Festivals (As An Indie Artist)

This past month, Rolling Loud happened for the time in Toronto and had a massive all-star lineup for the city. Artists and fans flew into the city for the three-day festival that took over Ontario Place from Friday to Sunday.

Following a chaotic Kingston fest this past summer, Rolling Loud stepped in to cap off the summer the way the “Screwface Capital” needed. We saw big artists like Future, Wizkid, Nav, and countless others turn up with the 6ix and make sure their sets were unforgettable experiences for their fans. From the VIP installations, the on-site Loud Club, the food trucks, and stacked set lists, the highs definitely outweighed the lows even in its first year. For many upcoming artists in the city like Preme, Chromazz and more, getting a slot at a festival is a dream for most artists. From an artist's perspective, you play a decent size stage in front of a great audience, you get free tickets and it’s an experience that can help grow your career dramatically. But as an upcoming rapper, how do you book your first festival?

You need the following:

  1. Get a Booking Agent

  2. Prepare an EPK

  3. Upload Your Music

  4. Upload A Video

  5. Apply on Festival Websites

Festivals love booking new slots for new acts all the time because people who like to attend festivals generally tend to like new things and booking upcoming acts are cheap. Opposed to dropping a big bag for numerous headliners, emerging artists booked will usually get a small fee and free tickets.

Get A Booking Agent - Acquiring a booking agent isn't as easy, but it's necessary if you want to move up the ranks at larger festivals. Booking Agents will call their contacts at festivals a year in advance to get their artists as high up the billing as possible. They leverage their relationships with the bookers, making sure they know the recent successes of the artist and their potential.

Prepare an EPK - If you didn't know, the term EPK stands for Electronic Press Kit. Think of this as your resume for your music career. It should consist of a short bio of you, links to your music, vital stats, professional photos and contact details.

Upload Your Music - It's important to upload your music on a platform that can allow your sounds to be easily heard. From using streaming platforms to old embeddable players like Bandcamp or SoundCloud, it shouldn't be an issue. But as you submit your music to a festival booker, don't expect them to listen to your full discography, sign in to hear something or search for highs and lows to hear your music.

Upload a video - To be respected as a musician and be comparable to the A-List musicians, you need your performance visuals and the quality of your work to measure up. One thing, artists do is include videos in their setlist. A booking agent seeing how you perform will increase their confidence in booking you for their film festival.

Apply on Festival Websites - This can be a tedious task but if done correctly, can have you even performing at festivals without a booking agent. For many upcoming artists, the answer to how to get booked is to visit these festival sites and apply. Once you have everything mentioned above, the application process should be fairly easy.

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