Apr. 13th, 2017
How to Use Festivals to Boost Your Music Career
Put Those High-Price Festival Tickets to Work For You
As an artist, reading through Coachella’s site, or any of the festivals, for ways to promote yourself can be more de-motivational than anything else. There are literal pages of things you cannot do and cannot bring to promote, i.e.:
“NO Flyers, Samples, Giveaways or Promotional Items.” “If you don’t have vending approval from the festival organizers, your items will be surrendered/confiscated.” – Coachella.com
And the very exclusive, “No signs are allowed. This includes all handheld signs or signs and items attached to poles or pool noodles or apparatus used to display anything above the head. All instances of the above will be subject to surrender and not returned.”
However for the savvy musician there are still a few ways to connect potential fans with your music.
Below is our cheat sheet to self-promotion at festivals.
1. Fan Meet-ups
For the fans you already have, connect with them through a small meet-up on or off festival grounds. Post something online when you’ve purchased your tickets and plan a tentative time and place for fans to find you for photo/chill opportunities.
But be cautious in promoting the meet-up. Coachella in particular is quick to point out their copyright, and does not allow outside entities to profit from their name. This means you won’t be able to sell or raffle spots for a dinner or small gathering using the Coachella logo or name. If you really want to go that route, hold something off festival grounds and refrain from using “Coachella” in promotional material.
What you can do is post a pic of something like your wristbands, let your followers know what days you’ll be there, and when/where to find you for a quick meet-up.
2. Guerrilla Marketing on-the-low
As you can see from the above quotes via Coachella’s website, promotional materials of any kind will be confiscated. You’re also not permitted to sell anything—including merchandise for your own brand. This means if you’ve got a stack of flyers or a bag of shirts, entrance security will likely assume you’re up to no good and take them at the gate. And you won’t get them back.
But you can promote yourself on the DL through some “good human” techniques. It all comes down to what you’re using and how much of it you have on your person.
Empty, plastic water bottles are allowed and probably five in a medium-sized backpack shouldn’t raise suspicion. Plaster your logo and your social media accounts on these and other allowed items like lighters, ear plugs, chapstick, hats, hand towels, and sunglasses. Making these items is an investment and you’ll have to hand them out for free, so make sure you’re giving them to interested parties only.
This is where networking plays a big part of self-promotion.
Talk to people.
There’s thousands of potential fans there and you have the opportunity to connect with them in line at a food truck, in line for the bathroom, at the campgrounds, everywhere.
If you strike up a conversation about Band X and your band happens to have a sound similar in style to Band X and Band Y (who’s also performing), then let that person know! Then slide them a water bottle and keep it moving (don’t be pushy—in any interaction with anyone ever, honestly).
The “good human” technique for self-promotion takes place when you see someone in need and you provide the solution. If someone’s sweating profusely or asking for a light, be there with the hand out. They’ll thank you, you’ll say, “You’re welcome, no problem” and keep on with your day. That random act of kindness can merit a checkout of your links as well as a story that individual can share later on.
It’s also never a bad idea to bring some business cards along to hand out. Booking agents, promoters, venue owners, and music business people of all kinds attend the big festivals. If you come across one asking how they can contact you, a business card is an easy solution.
3. DJ an “Impromptu” Campground Party
If you purchases a camping spot along with your wristband, then you have exponentially increased your opportunities to promote yourself. Campgrounds are much less restrictive than the performance areas and are a great opportunity to brand the hell out of everything you own.
Invest in a large, magnetic logo of your brand for the sides of your vehicle (which can be used in a ton of other non-festival situations too). You can also bring more promotional material not subject to confiscation—none of which you are technically allowed to sell, though you can give them away.
Coachella allows one case of beer or box of wine (no glass) per person. So if you’re a DJ, or have your own music, set up a small party area in your lot and blast some music. Invite neighboring campers to join in, drink, dance and have a good time.
These are the kinds of experiences people remember for years after the event. By making your brand visible while facilitating the fun, you can become and integral part of that memory.
Don’t forget, a brand is more than just your logo. Your brand is the summation of you and your music and needs to represent you accurately. We walk you through important aspects to consider when identifying your brand in our videos here.