By Alex Heiche
Every performing artist dreams of headlining their own cross-country stadium tour. But to build the popularity to get to that point – or for those who are already there – music festivals are an incredible and often undervalued driver of both exposure and income.
The world of music festivals has come a long way since festivals like Woodstock and Monterey ushered the trend into the United States in the late 60’s. Today, more than 800 festivals take place across the country every year, attracting over 33 million attendees.
Most music festivals focus on one particular type of music, providing up-and-comers in that genre, huge exposure to a massive number of top target, potential fans in one engagement.
Not only will hundreds or thousands of concert-goers get the chance to hear your music on the days of your performances, but the benefits begin months in advance when these music lovers make their plans to attend.
Wanting to get the most out of their pricey multi-day tickets, festival die-hards map out everything from their lodging to their outfits. So, you can bet that they’re going to check out the lineup of festival artists in advance and start streaming your music.
But better yet, these results compound. The drastic uptick in streams from the festival-goers checking out your music will help boost you onto the top of popular playlists for your genre, as well as any playlists that exist for the festival itself.
And the payout continues. Thanks to the impression you made on the audience members during your set, they’ll want to hear your songs again, and will continue to buy and stream your music after the event. Reports have shown that performers see a spike in royalties both at the time of the event and carrying on afterward.
For example, following the One Love Manchester benefit concert, Ariana Grande, Coldplay and Oasis all saw huge sales boosts post-event, as high as a 577 percent increase on some songs.
Well-established performers may scoff at the idea of performing at festivals for a lower fee, rather than focusing on the big paydays that doing their own tour provides. But the immense, long-term value of festival performances applies to headliners, just as much as it does for newbies.
Who would turn down an extra boost in streams and subsequent royalties? What about the opportunity to reach thousands of potential new fans of yours and other’s genres? Or the chance to further solidify yourself with your existing fanbase by participating in their favorite event?
Like it or not, festivals have become the newest form of valuable marketing in the music business – for both your latest album and your brand overall.
Not to mention, festivals are an excellent place to connect with other like-minded musicians and industry professionals, which could lead to new and fruitful connections when these contacts are exposed to your music, possibly for the first time.
So, as you’re planning your bookings and tour stops for the coming year, do not overlook festivals. While they are a fun weekend for fans, they have also become the newest necessity for musicians looking to stay ahead of the curve.
Some festivals still to come this season:
Headliners: The Killers, The Avett Brothers, Anderson. Paak, Nelly, Midland, Snakehips
Where: Louisville, Kentucky
When: July 12-14
Headliners: Childish Gambino, Ariana Grande, Twenty One Pilots, The Strokes
Where: Grand Park, Chicago
When: AUG 1-4
Headliners: Slipknot, Blink-182, Tool, Korn, Rob Zombie, Staind
Where: Sacramento, California
When: October 11-13
LIVE ON THE GREEN
Headliners: Gary Clark Jr., Grace Potter, O.A.R., Lake Street Dive, St. Paul & The Broken Bones
Where: Nashville, Tennessee
When: August 15-22
Headliners: Joe Russo’s Almost Dead, Trey Anastasio Band, Tedeschi Trucks Band, Bob Weir
Where: Arlington, Virginia
When: August 22-25
Alex Heiche is the CEO and founder of Sound Royalties, a company working to transform the way that music professionals fund their creativity.