How the music festival business works

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As the 13th Bonnaroo Festival kicks off today, I thought it’d be a good opportunity to share this video discussion between Bonnaroo founder Ashley Capps and Steve “Renman” Rennie of Renman Music & Business.

Check out the video above to hear them chat about the ins-and-outs of the festival business, how Capps took Bonnaroo from a parking lot concert to the epic event it is today, and more.

Have you been to Bonnaroo before? What were your favorite moments? Are you going this year? Let us know in the comments below.

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  • All I want to know is how to get booked at festivals without wasting hundreds of dollars a year on SonicBids.

  • Haha. Yeah, my sense of things is that you should talk to the bookers, showcase planners, etc. to get them interested first (easier said than done, of course, since you have to know WHO to contact and HOW).

    Then, once you’ve gotten a confirmation of interest, if they need you to jump through the SonicBids hoop just to appear like it all went according to plan, do it then. I’ve been booked for two or three events that claimed you needed to apply through Sonicbids without ever having to fill out the SonicBids application or pay the fee. (Though I won’t name names).


    • Yeah, that’s the kicker ain’t it? You gotta know the person booking, whom often has gone to great lengths to hide their contact info and association with the festival in order to avoid cold calls from indie musicians. Fortunately LinkedIn is still useful here, but it’s becoming less so as more musicians take that avenue.

      I just wish SonicBids would collapse or be investigated as a scam. I have yet to meet a single musician who has booked any shows through SonicBids that recouped the money they spent getting that gig.

      Cone to think of it, I believe I’ve only ever met ONE musician who booked anything through SonicBids, and it wasn’t even a paying gig.

  • Ha. (Sad ha). Yeah, I stopped using it years ago (except for one event last year). I know a couple festivals that consistently affiliate with SonicBids and then fill the rosters with bands who I’m SURE aren’t using it (because I’ve been one of them a few times). I’m sure there are events that legitimately use the service, but otherwise…