If the world was back on a regular booking schedule, summer events would have already started booking for next summer. Many of the city summer concerts, bigger festivals and county fairs attend booking conferences in the fall and start choosing before January. With the pandemic shut down, many of the big events & conferences were cancelled. Some of these events will re-hire the 2020 artists, but many want to book new, fresh entertainment every year. So DIY artists, here is your opening!
Staying on the positive side, we are all hoping that the summer 2021 will be back to business as usual. I suggest looking at the outdoor events in your own state. Below are some suggestions to booking bigger events that pay.
Every state has a Department of Tourism (i.e. Google: Department of Tourism in (YOUR STATE). These websites are actually for tourist to find events they want to attend as part of their vacation. But it is a good resource for musicians too. Most will list events by city and will have an events section listing Festivals and Fairs. In California, we also have an ‘Attractions’ button. The events button will list all types of festivals: Beer Festivals, Food Festivals, Wine Fests, Summer Concerts and so much more! You may look to see if you can find a line up from 2019; this will show you the kind of music they are booking AND how many stages they have. You can really get the feel if your music will fit. See if there is a “Want to Participate” or “Entertainment” button. If you can NOT find an entertainment contact, send a message from their facebook page asking for a contact. Keep it really short; send a message something like: “Can you connect me with your entertainment coordinator?” Add your email at the end. If there a phone number listed, make a call.
Many festivals will want you to fill out an application. I start a word file with the most requested information like: a short artist bio (no more than 50 words), links to a song, a live performance video and all your social media. Another important question may be “Have played other venues in around our city?” List the biggest venues you have played; even a small city street fair or art walk will impress the presenters. Remember to check the deadline dates. As for festivals, those events are funded by ticket sales, advertisers, vendors and sponsors. Many have more than one stage to fill and pay varies between $500 to $3500 a performance. If the festival charges admission, start with a higher price.
Also, we have 78 County Fairs in the state of California and I am sure you have a few in your state too. These events work like festivals where funds are secured through sponsorships. The great thing is that county fairs usually last a week (or more!) and have entertainment every day. There is so much more opportunity for you to actually land this type of gig. Make sure you get paid for these performances. I find the average is $450 to $800 for a local act (per music set). Do NOT do these for zero compensation! Remember, ever performance is an exposure gig.
CITY RUN EVENTS
Your own city will also have a website where you contact the Department of Recreation to see what local events the city sponsors. This is where you will find monthly art walks or farmers markets, local street fairs AND summer concert series. Almost every city I know has a weekly concert either in a park or on a beach pier, which are great ways to get the experience playing in front of a new audience. Playing these events will show the bigger festivals your music is a fit for their event. Even though these events are free for the community, they will pay between $450 to $1500 depending on their budget and the number of sponsors they have on board.
FINAL BOOKING TIPS: I have two last items to cover.
#1) I need to convincing you have to be patient. Sometimes it takes a number of years in a row for you to submit to get the summer gigs but once they like you, many will book you year after year.
#2) Have a GREAT live performance video! It is your calling card! Lead with a 30 to 60 second exciting live performance; the booker will only view/listen for about a minute before making a decision to book your act. A great live performance video will seal your success every time! I have seen great performance videos in a rehearsal hall or even shot on an iPhone. Just show your stuff!
There you have it….booking summer gigs that pay! It is OK to walk away from an offer that does not value your contribution. You will have to do much research, but it will be worth it in the end. BUT START TODAY! December and January is submission time for these worthwhile summer events.
Let me know when you start booking these events. If you need help, email me at MusicBizMentors@gmail.com.