Joe Hubbard

How to... stand out to festival bookers

Live at Leeds promoter Joe Hubbard gives M Magazine the inside info to help you get noticed by festival bookers.

Liam Konemann
  • By Liam Konemann
  • 19 Apr 2023
  • min read

When it comes to festivals, there are usually more artists wanting to play than there are slots on the bill. Music creators at all stages in their careers and all points of the release cycle are trying to get out there and play, and the competition can seem daunting. 

Ahead of Live at Leeds' in the park, kicking off on 27 May, the festival's very own booker Joe Hubbard jotted down some tips that will get your music noticed and have you playing those hallowed stages in no time.

Get your key points across as concisely as possible

A brief email with your key links (music, socials, press) and a couple of sentences should suffice to get the conversation started. You don’t want to distract from the most important parts of your pitch. 

Have your full plan in place before you reach out

Festival bookers will usually favour artists who are in a release campaign. If you have releases or content happening in the lead up to your potential festival appearance, you’re in a good position. Shout about that!

A promoter isn't just for festival season

A lot of festivals are run by year-round concert promoters – such as Live at Leeds, which is run by Futuresound. There may be opportunities to work with those promoters on support slots or other events. If you can do that, it’ll help establish a relationship and put you in a better position.  

Don't neglect Apply to Play pages

Even if you've made direct contact with a festival booker, fill out apply to plays, which are usually found on festival websites. Sometimes there's a separate quota for ATP artists, and sometimes they are selected by people other than the booker. In any case, it increases your chances to play an event if you fill them out.

Get personal

Come up with a reason why you’d be good for the particular festival you want to play. For example, if you’ve played with artists already on the bill, mention that. It’ll help separate you from the rest and make the bookers pay attention. Emails that look like mass mailers might be less likely to grab attention compared to something a bit more tailored.

Being a new artist isn’t a bad thing

If you’re just starting out you may feel you need to have done x, y and z before pitching for festivals, but that’s not always the case. Some festivals – LAL in the City for example! – are there to focus on new and emerging acts. So before you try to land your large scale outdoor events, try and get on some of the metropolitan showcases around the UK who are there to support new artists. 

Focus on building your team

It’s no secret that booking agents and managers are going to help you secure festivals. Putting a team together is an art in itself – but if you’re struggling to secure events without them then shifting your focus to working with the right people may be a better use of your energy.

Don't let rejection get you down

There are many reasons you may not end up with a slot on a certain festival. That doesn’t mean you won’t get to play the year after, and it also doesn’t mean you should stop trying on others!

Remember, wherever and whenever you play this festival season, report your live performances so you don't miss out on any royalties.