8 common mistakes to avoid when applying to play

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Festival bookers get thousands of artist applications each year, making it really hard to stand out as an artist. We asked the bookers for Kendal Calling / Bluedot and Live at Leeds to share the most common mistakes artists make when applying to perform at festivals, so you can avoid them and increase your chances of being noticed!

Here’s their answers, plus plenty of advice.

1. Spelling the festival name wrong

Kendal Calling/Bluedot: It'll sound simple but you’d be amazed to see how many people make spelling mistakes. Read twice before clicking send!

2. Sending blanket copied and pasted emails to festivals

Live at Leeds: When trying to secure a festival slot, you’re going to get much more impact by sending a specific and personal email. Try to open a conversation and build a relationship with the booker, even if they can’t offer you a slot for this year, it may be beneficial for the following year or other events they’re working on.

3. Applying for an irrelevant festival

Live at Leeds: Whatever genre of music you play, there will be plenty of suitable festivals out there, focus your time and efforts here.

Kendal Calling/Bluedot: If you’re a death metal act, don’t tell a pop festival that you’re the perfect fit for them and can't wait to play. In all likelihood, they won’t book you and you’ll have wasted time to apply to festivals that are right for your sound.

4. Facebook messaging the festival page or not using festivals' preferred application method

Live at Leeds: It’s likely that the people who are responding to the social media messages aren’t going to be the festival bookers. You need to do your best to get your message in front of the right people and by using social media you can’t guarantee this. Although your message may get passed over, it’s also possible that it will get lost along the way.

Check whether festivals have an ‘Apply to Play’ process online and send in an application through there before you do anything else.

If a festival is running a submission process, it’s their preferred route to receive applications, and therefore your most likely way to get your music heard. Take time considering your application, ensure the links to your music are recent and that the information provided is concise but expresses who you are as an artist. Supply links to your social media, promoters like to see that you are proactive about promoting yourself, whether that be a new single or a gig, so make it easy for them!

5. Getting the submission email wrong

Kendal Calling/Bluedot: Considering the amount of emails festival bookers get every day, it’s very important that you keep yours short and simple. It should include your name, your hometown, an image, some press/release/tour activity from the last 6 months, and one link to a good quality live video. Don’t send too many songs, dead links, or CD’s. We use Music Glue's Apply to Play service because it gives us a quick and easy way to listen to every single artist that has submitted their music to us and access all necessary info about them.

6. Not having enough live experience

Kendal Calling/Bluedot: If an act is applying to play but they haven’t performed at all for 6 months, I’ll probably move onto someone else. You need to keep active, keep visible, and most importantly get the live practice in! If you do successfully get a festival slot, you want to be comfortable on stage, know your songs well and be able to blow people away.

7. Not publicizing that you’re playing

Kendal Calling/Bluedot: Once you’re booked, it doesn’t end there. The festival will want you to make a fuss on your social media channels about it. If a festival can see that you’re excited because you’re sharing lineup artwork, posts and tweets about playing, they’ll be much more likely to get you back again in future years.

8. Being disrespectful

Kendal Calling/Bluedot: Once you’re on site, make sure you’re kind and polite to the staff working on the stages. Most of them are freelancers, who work at many other festivals. They are often involved in the local music scene and can really help you to progress if they like your music and your attitude. So be nice and make them remember you for the right reasons!

Discover the current apply to play opportunities open via Music Glue. Good luck!

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