Music festivals are one of the best ways to get together with community and share the experience of live music. Anyone can start their own festival but you need to put a lot of effort into the event planning for it to work. If it is your first time making your own festival then you will probably have to engage friends as festival volunteers to help make sure it all goes well and you save money. No matter what genre or size of music festival you want to organise, there are some absolute necessities to keep in mind and to have prepared before the fun begins.
Location EssentialsDon't start any event planning around a location if there aren't any bathrooms! You need to have functioning accessible bathrooms. Unless your festival is unplugged and by candle light then you need electricity. And of course you will need space for the audience where they can relax and listen to music and another space for dancing. A stage helps too and if there is none, build your own!
Musicians and ProgramEvent planning is all about arrangement with every single detail in mind and you want your music program to run as smooth as a great playlist. The music program is what is going to get people to come to your festival so be sure to put a lot of thought into which artists you ask to play and in what order you put them in. In other words, don't plan a festival with one singer-songwriter and all the other artists are techno. Take care of your artists. Don't announce they are playing on the first day of the festival and make them wait two days to play.
Seasonal WeatherWeather plays a huge roll in planning your festival. I've performed at a great community-organised festival, called Reclaim, in Germany, twice at the end of August. Both times it poured rain on the same dates both years. With that in mind they may change the dates for next summer. If you have an indoor festival in the winter be sure to have heating. You want your festival to be as comfortable as possible for everyone. You don't want any equipment to be damaged by the weather. Be prepared.
Entry, Food, DrinkAlways pay your musicians, either by charging an entry fee or by making donations. If you ask for donations you should make an announcement, it's important that people know. And you should get the donations for the band, don't make the bands do it themselves. It's always good to have food and drinks available for everyone, and especially for those performing. You should have permits to serve food and drink if you are selling it.
Promotion and SponsorsFirst you need a good name for your festival. It should reflect what you want the overall vibe of the festival to express. Begin to promote as far in advance as possible. A year of promotion beforehand is not unusual for music festivals. Use all your local music outlets for promotion and try to find some local sponsors. For small self organised festivals, word of mouth can be the best means of promotion.
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