Touring and Festivals

Although creating a buzz locally is very important, most artists progress in the live sector through playing other towns, touring and securing slots at festivals.

Playing Other Towns

Playing other towns allows an artist to reach an all new audience and eventually create a buzz nationally. But securing gigs is understandably difficult when promoters prefer not to risk booking artists who can't guarantee a crowd. You should try:

  • Gig Swapping - identify similar artists with a healthy buzz in their town and offer to support them, in return offering a busy gig in your hometown 
  • Do your research - use the internet or ask other artists to identify suitable venues and promoters who are likely to take a risk on an out of town artist
  • Improve your approach - when contacting promoters for the first time, make sure you have a personable yet approach and supply them with as much information as possible to sell yourself. This is best presented as a 'press pack' with links to tracks, artist photos, short biogs and key press and radio quotes
  • Increase your national (and regional) appeal - your chances of securing a gig are much higher if you already have national press and radio exposure. And don't forget to send press packs to the best regional magazines, blogs and radio stations in key towns such as Leeds, York, Manchester, Liverpool, Glasgow, Edinburgh, Cardiff, Bristol, Oxford, Brighton, Cambridge and London.
    • Timing - are you ready to go on tour? Do you have enough national radio and press coverage? Timing is key. You will naturally know when the time is right when promoters start to approach you. It's also a great idea to plan a tour around a release so all efforts are aligned. The potential to sell releases and merchandise on tour also boosts touring income.
    • Should I get an agent? - An agent works closely with artists, managers, tour managers, promoters and labels to ensure an artist plays to the right audience and progresses on the live scene (see our Agents page for more advice). Without an agent on board, you may need to carefully plan a few dates yourself and book them through promoters in other towns.
    • Promoters - you will need to approach promoters to book a series of dates across the country. See our Promoters page for guidance.
    • Tour manager - a tour manager is responsible for liaising with promoters, agreeing sound requirements, looking after an artist's interests on tour and arranging transport and accomodation. Professional tour managers are available at reasonable rates and can make a massive difference to your touring experience. If you cannot secure a professional then an organised and reliable band member or contact may have to fill this vital role. The Tour Manager is usually responsible for making sure you get paid.
    • Logistics - the most effective way of saving money in tour is through careful planning. This includes hitting towns in the correct order. Try to minimise mileage by coordinating dates and consider which towns across the UK are vital. Sacrificing that date in Edinburgh between those Bristol and Cambridge dates may be for the best!
    • Transport - during the early stages of touring, perhaps driving one or two cars to gigs might make sense. Eventually you should consider investing in or hiring a tour van. Most towns have 2 or 3 van hire companies which offer van hire and often drivers.
    • Costs - Careful budgeting really is the key. Don't underestimate the cost of travel, accomodation and 'per diem' expenses. You should also factor in potential equipment hire/equipment replacement and all important spares. Investing in insurance for your instruments on tour is also important. 


      Many bands dream of playing festivals but with such competition for slots for new bands, it is important to look in the right places and approach organisers when you are ready and building a strong buzz elsewhere.

      The majority of bookings at medium and large festivals will be made directly through booking agents.

      Sites such as list which festivals are looking for unsigned bands to play and you can apply through that site.

      Festivals in your area might have slots for local bands so get in touch with the organisers to find out. Most festivals finalise their line-ups many months in advance so target the summer festivals in the winter before.

      Some of the larger festivals such as Glastonbury and Reading & Leeds run competitions to play and BBC Introducing offer slots at most of the major festivals to emerging artists.

      Useful Links:

      You can find many contacts for promoters, venues, agents and festivals in The Unsigned Guide.

      Support is also available through the PRS for Music Foundation.

      See the Association of Independent Festivals for a list of member festivals.

      For further advice and support:

      Book a Music Clinic / Check out our latest related Events / Sign up to The Gen on our homepage.



    Should you feel there is enough demand to put together a tour, here are some handy pointers: