How to get programmed on a festival

Updated July 2017

Monday, 04 Apr 2016

Festivals are a great opportunity to play to new audiences, but landing a coveted spot requires some serious planning and research - performer applications can open as early as a year in advance. 

To help you prepare for the rest of this year’s festival circuit, we’ve pulled together a selection of upcoming Australian festivals that accept performance applications.

We also asked Gill Walker, Artist Coordinator at Western Australia’s long-running Blues at Bridgetown, for her advice on how to give your application the best shot.

  1. MAKE SURE THE FESTIVAL IS A GOOD FIT
    “First and foremost, we are a blues festival,” says Gill. “Every year we get applications from musicians who are clearly not blues artists, trying to stretch the definition of blues to fit what they do. So number one, only apply to appropriate festivals.”
  2. BE THOROUGH
    “We are looking for a range of artists across the different blues genres, so the more we know about an artist, the better we know how they might fit in,” says Gill. “Read the application form closely and make sure that all criteria are addressed as fully as possible.”
  3. BE REALISTIC
    “Price is important,” says Gill. “We need value for money. Asking a fair price for your performance and being prepared to negotiate with our music programmer if necessary will help. Being flexible about the times and days you’re available to perform is also helpful.”
  4. MAKE A GOOD FIRST IMPRESSION
    How well you’ve been received by past audiences is obviously crucial, but it’s also important to make a good impression on festival staff. Programmers, marketers, production and admin staff all play an important role in getting you on stage and getting punters in front of it. Help them do a good job by supplying tech specs, marketing materials and completed paperwork in a timely fashion. They’ll be more likely to welcome you back with open arms the next time you apply.
  5. APPLY EARLY
    Don’t wait until the last day to submit your application. “Applying early will increase your chances,” says Gill. So start doing your research and get those applications in!

FIND YOUR FESTIVAL

BLUES/ROOTS/FOLK/JAZZ  

FESTIVAL STATE  DATES APPLICATIONS
Sydney Blues & Roots Festival NSW  27-29 Jun 2017 Closed for 2017
National Folk Festival NSW 13-17 April 2018 Open now
Dorrigo Folk & Bluegrass Festival NSW 27-29 Oct 2017  Closed for 2017
Bluesfest NSW 29 Mar-2 April 2018 Not open until August 2017
Sydney Blues & Roots Festival NSW 27-29 Oct 2017 Open now
Mullum Music Festival NSW  16-19 Nov 2017  Closed for 2017
Illawarra Folk Festival NSW  18-21 Jan 2018  Close 30 September
Blue Mountains Music Festival   NSW  16-18 Mar 2018  Close 31 August
       
Kangaroo Valley Folk Festival NSW 20-22 Oct 2018 Open 18 February 2018
Majors Creek Festival NSW 11-13 Nov 2017 Closed for 2017
Turning Wave Festival NSW 15-17 Sep 2017 Closed for 2017
Neurum Creek Music Festival QLD 8-10 Sep 2017 Closed for 2017 
Tablelands Folk Festival QLD 27-29 Oct 2017  Closed for 2017 
Woodford Folk Festival QLD 27 Dec 2017 - 1 Jan 2018 Closed for 2017 
Mitchell Creek Rock n' Blues Fest QLD 15-18 Sep 2017 Closed for 2017
Caloundra Music Festival QLD 29 Sep - 2 Oct 2017 Closed for 2017
Fleurieu Folk Festival SA 27-29 Oct 2017 Closed for 2017
WOMADelaide SA 9-12 March 2018 Close 1 August
Cygnet Folk Festival TAS 12-14 Jan 2018 Closed for 2018
Wangaratta Jazz & Blues Festival VIC 3-5 Nov 2017 No formal application process and deadline, program booked between Feb-May
MountainGrass Bluegrass festival VIC 17-19 Nov 2017 Closed for 2017
Queenscliff Music Festival VIC 24-26 Nov 2017 Applications for 2018 open 1 March
Yackandandah Folk Festival  VIC 24-26 March 2017 Applications for 2018 open in April
Bendigo Blues and Roots VIC 9-12 Nov 2017 Closed for 2017
Healesville Festival VIC 10-12 Nov 2017 Closed for 2017
Blues at Bridgetown WA 10-12 Nov 2017 Closed for 2017
Fairbridge Festival WA  21-24 April 2018 Open now

COUNTRY

FESTIVAL STATE DATE APPLY
Gympie Muster QLD 24-27 Aug 2017 Closed for 2017
Burra Music Festival SA 10-12 Nov 2017 Closed for 2017
Patchewollock Music Festival VIC 20-22 Oct 2017 Open now
Mildura Country Music Festival VIC 29 Sep-8 Oct 2017 Closed for 2017
Tamworth Country Music Festival NSW 19-28 Jan 2018 Approach venues directly


ELECTRONIC/DANCE

FESTIVAL STATE DATE APPLY
Earthcore Festival Various Various Open now
Subsonic Music Festival NSW 1-3 Dec 2017 Closed for 2017
Earth Frequency Festival QLD 17-20 Feb 2018 Close 30 September

FRINGE/MULTI

FESTIVAL STATE DATE APPLY
Wide Open Space Festival NT 28-30 April 2018 Close 23 Dec 2017
Adelaide Fringe Festival SA February 2018 Applications open 16 Aug
Mount Eliza Music Festival VIC 4 Feb 2018 Closed for 2018
Sydney Fringe Festival NSW September 2017 Closed for 2017
Melbourne Fringe Festival VIC 14 Sep - 1 Oct 2017 Closed for 2017
Rainbow Serpent VIC 26-29 Jan 2018 Open now for 2018
Riverboats Music Festival VIC 16-18 Feb 2018 No formal application, apply before October for 2018
The Basin Music Festival VIC 24-26 March 2018 Not open yet for 2018

Tags: aprap , festivals
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