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Curating Performance Artists for Music Festivals at the Right Price.

Andy Robertson

Every music festival organiser invests heavily in curating the right line-up for their events but there are always compromises. The size of the event, its brand and reputation along with finances available will dictate which performance artists can be booked and the fees that can be negotiated.


The artistic curation process depends mostly depends budget and genre of a music festival but each party involved in finalising the line-up will have a different perspective and varying priorities. It’s likely that each party involved in the negotiation will need to compromise to seal any deals to the satisfaction of everyone involved.

Artist Curation. 
An experienced Artistic Director responsible for curating the line-up for a music festival will be given a tight budget to work to making the process challenging. Ideally, they want to book a mixture of headline acts, support acts and up-and-coming artists. Most curation is done well in advance of the festival dates, usually between 6 and 12 months before, earlier bookings can ensure that artists will be available for the desired dates. Leaving a decision too late can mean an increase in fees requested, unavailability and the prospect of a bidding war with other music festivals.

The Artist’s Perspective. 
For artists looking to secure a music festival appearance they want to achieve the highest possible fee and this is usually done by their management team. Despite some generous offers from festival organisers the artist may still reject an offer no matter the fee offered because the festival is not the right fit for them or the audience demographics don’t match the direction the artist wishes to pursue. For lesser-known artists more used to playing support roles they will often have a set fee which although lower will have less room for negotiation. Up-and-coming artists may put less emphasis on the fee if the festival is big enough to give them the exposure required to advance their career.

Artist Liaison Managers. 
Most music festivals have someone responsible for liaising with booked artists and although an artist has been confirmed it is the Artist Liaison Manager who will produce all the supporting documentation. Contracts and agreements are made and signed including what is and is not included (travel, expenses and accommodation for example). The artist’s advance will confirm all riders, schedules and tech specs so that there is no misunderstanding at any point during the festival.

Despite having rock solid documentation and legal agreements artists can be still be fickle when it comes to the actual performance. They can get stage fright, claim to be sick, be under the influence of drugs or alcohol and refuse to perform at the last minute. It is the job of the Artist Liaison Manager to discuss any issues with the artist and their manager regarding the financial implications of non-performance plus the potential impact on their reputation. Whilst these issues can arise most artist’s performances go ahead as planned.

For festival organisers planning their events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Erik Mclean via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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