March is getting down to business month. With the summer festival season on the horizon, this is a great time to contact and line up your summer events calendar. Many of the major festivals already have their talent lined up and contracted. There are still some filler slots open at most of the major festivals. But why rely on the major festivals to fill up your calendar? There are so many town, city, county and state-wide events that will take place throughout the spring, summer and fall that book local and regional talent along with some of the big name acts. Now is the time for a bit of research on your city’s website, your county government website, your state’s tourist department website and the US Chamber of Commerce website.
Sure it would be fantastic to play the big festivals and perhaps one summer or even this summer you will. But unless you are on the list for at least 10 festivals, one festival does not a tour make. So you need to find some other gigs that will not only fill the summer dates but build your audience and your market value.
To do that, start by getting out a map of the regions where you want to tour if you are planning to explore outside of your own home base. I would first pick a few states and Google the state website looking for their Department of Tourism and the state’s arts council. Under tourism, I would search for fairs, festivals and special events. If you have specific cities in mind that you want to play, check the city website which is often .org rather than .com. Check the city’s Chamber of Commerce site for special is city events sponsored by local businesses. Another great site for finding small festival events and crafts fairs Festival Network Online. Also for lots of different festival events check on Festivals.com.
Many cities have a foundation that is often part of the city government and is responsible for organizing entertainment events. Here in Charlottesville, VA, for example, we have the Downtown Foundation that is responsible for presenting “Friday’s After Five” in our downtown pavilion. This free to the public event gets the whole town out for a concert every Friday evening from April through October. Performing groups are paid through a city fund. It is an event such as this, that give local, regional and national touring acts a chance to play for an audience sometimes numbering over 5,000. This kind of gig definitely develops future fans and opens opportunities for return gigs in other venues around the city.
Think beyond the major festivals in your genre that you already know about, and begin thinking about finding outdoor events that the general public will flock to during the warmer months. Then you open a wide range of possibilities such as: wineries with concert series or festivals, corporate sponsored community events, city festivals and concert series, parks and recreation events, national park sponsored concert series, civic center major events and corporate organization conference events.
While familiarizing yourself with regional events, don’t forget to check the area arts magazines, weekly arts newspapers with local arts councils. These resources are often the recipient of listings of upcoming events calendars from a variety of community presenting organizations. Many of these listings need to be submitted many months in advance in order to be included in special upcoming events calendars. If your research for this coming summer gets you to the presenting organizations too late for this season, you’ll at least have the information well in advance for the next presenting season.
This advance research has the potential to net you contacts and info about many more publicly attended festivals, fairs and events within your local region and beyond and help build a very strong fan base. Here’s to some great summer gigs!
And, I invite you to learn more about this and other topics important to your career development and to sign up for free weekly audio Biz Booster Hot Tip! Every Monday you’ll get another valuable strategy and technique that you can put to use immediately. You’ll find helpful books, career development seminars, Booking & Touring Success Strategies & Secrets online course and information on booking tours, the music business and performing arts. It’s all waiting for you at https://www.performingbiz.com. Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician’s & Performing Artist’s Guide To Successful Touring, 3rd Edition.
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