With festivals and concerts coming back into our lives as we stray away from the pandemic. They are some of the best ways to get your name out there and introduce fans to new music, but how does that happen in the first place? We’ve put together a list of ways to get your live career going. 

The Balance Careers has some great tips. First, prepare your submission materials and create a press kit. Each festival and concert will have its own requirements of what you’ll need to submit, but you’re likely to need an up-to-date artist biography. This is basically your story of how you got started in the music industry, musical accomplishments, and influences plus some color like a personal story or two. Your bio should be short, written in a few paragraphs or at most a page, and you should constantly be adding to it. If you record a new song or album, get an award, play a big show, or anything else of note, add it to your bio. You should also have some professional photos and a video of you or your band performing. Be sure to have some quality recordings too. Another thing to do during your preparation is to make sure you have an active social media presence or website. You don’t have to have thousands of followers, but you should get your social media numbers up as much as you can and interact with your fans as much as possible. If your last post was two years ago, that could be a problem. Next, mark your calendar. One of the easiest ways to miss an opportunity is to not get an application in on time. Create a spreadsheet with all the important details and dates. It’s important to be responsible and show that you care, so pay attention to any deadlines and don’t arrive late for gigs once you book them. After you send in your submission, follow up respectively. Don’t pester an artistic director with emails especially if it says not to contact them, but if there is a way to send a quick thank you note, you should definitely do so. 

Next, don’t be afraid to start off small. If your hometown has a festival or a local concert, that might be the perfect way to get involved. While it might not be Coachella or Lollapalooza, it’s still a start. You’ll be able to put it on your resume and polish your performances. Performing small at first also helps your market yourself or your band through word of mouth and social media as your music begins garnering reviews. You can let your social media followers know you’re appearing, plus the more performances you are able to get, the more concert and festival promoters will be interested in you. Be wary of shows where you need to pay to perform. Organizers may expect you to buy tickets to resell to fans with little to no compensation. You don’t want to play every concert or festival offered to you — be selective and make sure it’s catered to your type of music. Do your research in advance and target concerts or festivals that are known to book similar acts. Search festival directories too for opportunities. Additionally, don’t be afraid of non-profit appearances. While you won’t be getting paid, it’s still great exposure.

Make sure to practice your stage routine. If you’re not very experienced on the live circuit, it’s okay, but you should be able to command a crowd and put on a solid show. Playing at a concert or festival is very different from playing at a nightclub or a coffee shop. Bandzoogle says your live show must be memorable since there’s a lot of competition for festival and concert slots that are open to those like you who are not the headliners or more popular acts. When you apply for an event like this, you’re not just selling your music or yourself. Promoters want to know you have a killer live show that can attract and keep your audience interested. You don’t want your set to get stale, so change the order up, throw out some goodies to your fans, get someone up on stage, or bring in a special guest. Ask your crowd how they’re feeling, have them repeat your lyrics after you, or recite a popular chant. Introduce a social media contest or take a pic of the audience and post it online. Don’t be scared to interact with fans following the show too. After your performance, walk out among the fans and talk to anyone who approaches you, says Music Industry How To.

Next, network, network, network. The music industry can be small, especially if you’re active in your local scene. If you constantly put yourself out there as a professional act with a great live show, word will get around, and you’ll have a better chance of being selected when you apply to gigs, according to Bandzoogle. Reach out to local promoters, agents, talent buyers, and fellow musicians while you play more shows and grow your fanbase. 

If you don’t end up getting the gig, don’t give up or get discouraged. Getting booked at concerts or festivals is very competitive. Ask to be kept informed of other opportunities, and keep perfecting your craft until you can apply again. Play other places like fairs, showcases, and smaller venues to get more experience. It will happen eventually!