The Glastonbury Emerging Talent Competition receives thousands of entries every year, as artists from all genres vie for a chance to perform on one of the festival’s main stages. Of those who enter, only 90 artists make it to the longlist, and just eight of those go on to be shortlisted.
That’s fierce competition. But, there are things you can do to stand out from the crowd. To get an insider perspective, we asked the competition’s judges, organisers and previous runners-up for their best advice on making your mark.
Believe in yourself
‘Just don’t be afraid to give it a go!’ says Emily Eavis. ‘We’ve had finalists who’ve only ever played small local shows but who’ve gone on to get slots at the Festival. The competition is free and simple to enter, and I’d encourage any aspiring live artists to put their names in the hat.’
Show off your songwriting
Organiser Sue Wheeler points out that the Emerging Talent Competition doesn’t consider tribute acts or cover versions, so make sure the song you choose to submit is your own original material.
Also think about which of your tracks best demonstrates your current style, and double check that it will be available for judges to access throughout the whole competition. ‘Put forward the best example of your music which represents your sound now, and don’t forget to make sure your links are accessible for at least 4 months!’ says Becci Scotcher, Senior Grants and Programmes Manager at PRS Foundation.
Don’t stress about video production
The live video is a crucial part of your application, but the Emerging Talent Competition team are keen to point out that you don’t have to have professional-level video production skills. ‘It doesn't have to be anything slick, we just want to see you in action,’ Sue says.
Pay attention to the details, but don’t get weighed down
Ben Coleman, the booker for the Other Stage, says that painter George Bellows’ advice on ‘trying everything’ is a helpful roadmap: ‘Be deliberate, be spontaneous, be thoughtful and painstaking, be abandoned and impulsive.’
Bring your joy to the stage
‘As an agent I’m always on the look-out for new acts so I know just how difficult they are to find, yet the review panel for the ETC always, but always, manage to come up with a set of finalists sure to turn all of our heads,’ says Paul Charles, an agent and booker for The Acoustic Stage. ‘My top tip would be to 100% believe in your music, and endeavour to enjoy it as much as you want your audience to.’
Having been there themselves, English Teacher know that any advice for entrants is ‘way easier said than done in the moment.’ Still, they encourage artists to ‘enjoy it all as much as possible, and put on the performance of your lives!’