M TGE 2017

10 tips on getting the most out of showcase festivals

We were at The Great Escape to learn how songwriters, artists and bands can get the most out of playing a showcase festival...

Jim Ottewill
  • By Jim Ottewill
  • 26 May 2017
  • min read
Playing at or attending a showcase festival such as The Great Escape, SXSW or Eurosonic can be a big step in the career of a new act.

It can help introduce them to the right people, get that crucial review or, at the very, least help build an audience. But what do new artists need to do to ensure they get the most out of these opportunities?

We attended a panel at The Great Escape to learn exactly what acts need to do to capitalise on these opportunities. Check out the top tips we learned from a panel including PRS Foundation's Bhav Patel, artist managers Umong Shah and Peter McGaughrin, Earth Agency's Claire Courtney, [PIAS]'s Pip Newby and Marauder's Rev Moose.

Make sure you're playing at the right festival for you

Bhav Patel: If you are going to play a festival, make sure it's the right one for you. For example, head to Eurosonic for live opportunities. It's mainly promoters and booking agents in attendance so it could lead to gigs. You need to be clear on why you're going to an international event and how it might further your career. So if you're playing Eurosonic, this will be because you want to build on your European presence.

Your goals will depend on what stage you are at in your career

Umong Shah (US): What are the goals of attending an event like The Great Escape? It totally depends on where you are as an artist and what you want to achieve. If you're after a label or publisher, you'll probably spend a lot of time in meetings.

Use your online stats to tell you when to go to an event

Peter McGaughrin (PM): You should go when the internet tells you. There has to be something online, some sort of reason whether that be numbers of followers or the release of some important new music. Bookers need to be aware that something is going on to make it worth their while booking your band.

And ensure your internet profile is 'neat and tidy' before going

Claire Courtney: You need to make sure your best songs are out there. The internet will be around forever so edit your online profile. Keep it neat and tidy and make sure your best songs are the ones out there.

Do not assume you will get a deal

Rev Moose: It's the performers and artists who assume they will just bump into someone who can launch their career who will be disappointed. It can happen but don't expect it. You need to prepare for attending these events.

International events are important

Pip Newby (PN): Attending an international event can help you make greater connections. You can forge some strong bonds when you go to an event in a different country.

Personal connections can be useful in getting you the right gigs

US: When applying for events like SXSW make sure your description is short, punchy and engaging. Also make sure you know the PR who can put in a good word on behalf of your artist. Just doing the application itself somtimes isn't enough. Try and make some friends beforehand.

Plan ahead

PM: It's taken us six months to build up and plan for events like SXSW with certain artists. But you need to put the work in. If you don't go in with a story, then it's unlikely that you're going to come out with one.

Always follow up after an event

RM: What do people expect? A contract to walk into the room. The whole point of going is to follow up on what you've done at an event.

PN: It's important to reflect on what you did, ask whether you achieved your goals and if not, make sure you do it better next year.

Be as proactive as possible

PN: Bands should be proactive about their careers, whether it be networking or promoting. I’m motivated to work harder for bands who I can see who are working their arses off. No one can be as passionate about your music as you.

Read all our content from the Great Escape 2017.