Apply to play at these UK festivals. Are you ready?

Posted on 15th January 2019

January can be a quiet month for the live music scene in the UK, but artists and bands should use this time to work on their songwriting and to set out a plan for the rest of the year. For DIY artists and bands starting out, festival performances are a key way to engage with new fans and to network with other like-minded artists, bookers and promoters.

Here at WaterBear our industry leading tutors have played festivals, across the UK, Europe and beyond, alongside the likes of The Rolling Stones, Nile Rodgers, Metallica, Black Sabbath, Massive Attack, Wolf Alice, Dua Lipa, Ben Howard, Passenger and Imelda May… name but a few. I had a chat with some of our tutors and asked them for a selection of some of the festivals that are open to Independent/DIY artists and bands.

Here are some things to consider before submitting your application to any festival: (1) Are you happy that your music is ready? If not, spend more time on your songwriting craft. Get feedback from your friends, family, followers etc on your songs. Be open to criticism, be resilient, learn and apply feedback to your craft. Finally, know your audience. (2) Are your recordings up to Pro level? If not collaborate with the best people you can within budget. (3) Do you have a professional EPK (electronic press kit) -- including press shots, reviews, high quality live YouTube videos and Sound Cloud links? If not, then work on this in 2019 and get festival ready for 2020. (4) You will need to have a good audience following on social media. Check out our recent video about how many followers you will need to be taken seriously. If you’re not at this level have a look at our Social Media Tips for Bands video which will help you to grow your followers.

Don’t waste time applying for festivals if you’re not ready. If you’re not ready now don’t fret (pardon the pun) you can start planning now for 2020 and get festival ready by following the WaterBear blogs on our website or by subscribing to our YouTube Channel  for advice and tips.

If you’re festival ready then here are some great festivals that accept applications from unsigned and independent artists and bands. Some of these festivals are open now for applications and for those that aren’t keep an eye on them over the coming weeks. An obvious enough piece of advice is to make sure your genre of music fits what they are looking for before you apply. You can do this by looking at the acts that featured on the previous year’s line-up.

I hope this advice helps you on your music journey.

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Festival opportunities

Focus Wales 2019 | 16th - 18th May
(2019 Applications Closed)

Liverpool Sound City | 3rd - 5th May
(2019 Applications Closed)

Big Love Festival | 7th – 9th May

The Great Escape | 9th – 11th May

Live at Leeds | Saturday 4th May

Leestock | 25th – 26th May

Camden Rocks | 1st - 2nd June

Isle Of Wight Festival | 13th – 16th June

2000 Trees | 11th – 13th July

Latitude | 18th – 21st July

Nozstock | 18th – 21st July

Camp Bestival | 25th - 28th July

Kendal Calling | 25th – 28th July

Standon Calling | 25th – 28th July

Victorious Festival | 23rd – 25th August

Godiva Festival | 31st Aug - 2nd Sept



by Brían McNamara
Brían has performed at some of the UK & Ireland’s leading festivals including Black Deer Festival, Beautiful Days Festival, Liverpool Feis, The Great Escape and Electric Picnic. An experienced live performer, he has played many leading venues across the UK & Ireland including: The Brighton Dome, The Belfast Empire, Whelans Dublin and Ronnie Scotts. With his band Warsaw Radio he has appeared on the same line-up as artists such as Van Morrison, The Lone Bellow, Frank Turner, The Levellers and The Waterboys. His songs have been featured & playlisted on BBC Radio 6 Music, BBC Northern Ireland and RTE Radio in Ireland.
View all posts by Brían McNamara

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