Booking festivals - the real world.

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
This is an email exchange from yesterday. Although this is at the upper end of "head up arse" examples, it's how many festival organisers / promoters view band submissions, wether overtly or otherwise - it's business. That said, I looked over the acts this festival booked last year, and non of them come close to the status indicated in their reply.

Although it's tempting to reply something like "If we could sell £40K ($60K) worth of tickets, do you not think we'd be promoting our own event?", remember that events talk to events - take the high ground, & move on.

Bike fest reply.jpg
 

Woolwich

Silver Member
Unbelievable!
Festivals are like a pub gig (stick with me here) it’s their job to get the audience in and guarantee a level of performance that will please the audience, that’s the unwritten contract between venue/event and audience. It’s then a band’s job to perform to the required standard that keeps everyone happy. Glastonbury is already sold out for next year and no one even knows the lineup yet!
On the pub circuit the type of comment I hear most often is “we’re going to “the pub” to see which band is on” as opposed to “my favourite band is “Band X”, we’ve checked to see where they are tonight and are travelling 20 miles to see them”.

Unfortunately for this festival someone will possibly tell them what they want to hear, if they do things won’t end well.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Unbelievable!
Unfortunately for this festival someone will possibly tell them what they want to hear, if they do things won’t end well.
Oh, you can count on it, as well as a ton of bands happy to appear for free - it depends on what basis you wish to grow an event. As you point out, the best festivals (& not all of them large) sell out based on the event reputation, rather than necessarily which acts are playing. Those events have carefully crafted a reputation for providing a good time with quality acts. Long term vs. short term mindset.

What are they paying in 'exposure' though?
Ha - yes, the old exposure lure = we're not interested, unless the event truly has promotional value. We've just taken a booking for Castell Roc 2020 opening for King King. Plenty of exposure value, very cool venue, great PA + lighting, band treated really well, and we're being compensated respectfully. We're happy to reach out, and play for a reduced fee if there's alternative compensation elements, but we don't play the "grateful fools" game.
 

Juniper

Gold Member
Oh man, there's one thing I don't miss about being in a band is dealing with promoters like this one.

£40 used as a guide figure for a gig ticket is way too high also. I'd expect a band playing the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena to charge prices that high, not a 1,000 capacity event.

Very unprofessional/unrealistic reasoning from the promoter but a very classy reply from yourself Andy.
 

Xstr8edgtnrdrmrX

Well-known member
Oh man, there's one thing I don't miss about being in a band is dealing with promoters like this one.

£40 used as a guide figure for a gig ticket is way too high also. I'd expect a band playing the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena to charge prices that high, not a 1,000 capacity event.

Very unprofessional/unrealistic reasoning from the promoter but a very classy reply from yourself Andy.
yep...this sounds like most of the "promoter" types around here who promise a great event, and then when you show up, nothing promised is there. My band quit taking gigs like this 15 years ago, and have not been any worse for the wear. For a while, every show seemed like it was like this. I feel like it has either dies out, or we have just taken ourselves out of the circles who advertise this stuff
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Oh man, there's one thing I don't miss about being in a band is dealing with promoters like this one.

£40 used as a guide figure for a gig ticket is way too high also. I'd expect a band playing the 20,000 capacity O2 Arena to charge prices that high, not a 1,000 capacity event.

Very unprofessional/unrealistic reasoning from the promoter but a very classy reply from yourself Andy.
Thanks Jon - the £40 ticket price is for 3 days, nevertheless, this lot are clearly punching above their weight.
yep...this sounds like most of the "promoter" types around here who promise a great event, and then when you show up, nothing promised is there. My band quit taking gigs like this 15 years ago, and have not been any worse for the wear. For a while, every show seemed like it was like this. I feel like it has either dies out, or we have just taken ourselves out of the circles who advertise this stuff
Of course, we check out every event before we bother communicating. This event seems decent enough, but not attracting the draw calibre of act their reply would indicate.
 

MrInsanePolack

Platinum Member
Biggest festival I got to play was Milwaukee Metalfest 13 in 1999. Eighteen hour drive, 15 minute set, $1000 entry fee for unsigned acts. We also had to pay for gas, lodging, food, and anything else we wanted/needed. Was it a blast? Absolutely. Got to see tons of great bands for free, mingle with porn stars, and watch WWE wrestling WHILE I was on stage. Was it worth the cost? Absolutely not. Gig money paid for all of it though, so there's that.
 

Andy

Administrator
Staff member
Biggest festival I got to play was Milwaukee Metalfest 13 in 1999. Eighteen hour drive, 15 minute set, $1000 entry fee for unsigned acts. We also had to pay for gas, lodging, food, and anything else we wanted/needed. Was it a blast? Absolutely. Got to see tons of great bands for free, mingle with porn stars, and watch WWE wrestling WHILE I was on stage. Was it worth the cost? Absolutely not. Gig money paid for all of it though, so there's that.
Wow - the 15 minute set is a viability killer for me, let alone the playing "fee". Of course, tour "buy on" is commonplace, but I've never heard of such a deal with festivals :(

In our band world, we have a strict policy & scale that we do not step outside of.

Charity events: We play a max of two charity gigs / year. They must be in aid of a cause we can stand behind, and we absolutely charge expenses, typically around £300 ($400).

Commercially based festivals / events: Depending on size, typically £1,000 - £1,300 + expenses ($1,300 - $1,700). We will reduce that if there's other benefits associated with the event, but never by more than 50%, & that has to be something exceptional.

For us, it's not a money earning thing, it's a value thing.
 
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