Traveling to festivals is one of those wonderfully fucked up things that everyone needs to get the hang of if they want to become a regular contributing member of the music industry. After all – this is where the real connections are made and the friendships that can last a lifetime are forged. Going to festivals is a key part of any young music industry wannabe’s experience, and understanding why is fundamental to understanding what it takes to succeed in doing this kind of stuff.
Here’s the thing – going to festivals can lead to even more connections than even living in a hub like New York City ever could. Why? Because in a festival environment it’s almost impossible not to meet people who are like minded and similarly ambitious. Beyond that – you’re essentially stuck on the festival grounds with them for three days. If you can’t network your way to success from there – then you just might not be cut out for this lifestyle.
In my experience – festivals are where a huge amount of the music industries moving and shaking gets done. It’s here that we are able to get together and really talk about the fundamental issues that drive our time. We get a chance to meet people who also have found themselves fully invested in this world who have been through the ringer and sincerely get it. People at festivals aren’t there to mess around – they are there because of a true and passionate love of the music that none of their peers could emulate – after all if they could, wouldn’t they be at the festival too?
I get it though – it’s expensive and it can be hard to get tickets – that’s definitely a crucial part of the struggle. But again – it’s one of those things that allows you to really prove how dedicated you are to the music. And in most cases – the event pays for itself. Even if you see just 10 bands that could normally headline a show for a 150$ ticket you’re probably saving at least 50 dollars – and the added effect of seeing those bands back to back only adds to the magic of it. More importantly – it helps to evidence the unfailing dedication that you need to have for the music if you ever want to get anywhere in this scene. People take note when they see you at four different festivals on three continents and they start to realize that maybe you’re in this for the long run and not just here to mess around.
The larger point I’m trying to make here is that – rock and roll is rock and roll – it’s the kind of thing you need to prove yourself in if you really want to make it anywhere and the number one way to prove yourself is to be everywhere. It’s not so much the actually being there as it is the principle of the thing. The sense that people get when they see that ‘Oh – this person knows what’s up – this person is here for the music, running around and dedicating their life to their art. It creates a sense of admiration, and once you’ve got that – the whole world is at your fingertips. People want to work with people who get it and who clearly give back to the community. By establishing your place in the scene you’re setting yourself up to be able to look deeper and be given more opportunities. If you become ‘that guy’ then folks are going to look up and pay attention.
And even if the struggle continues and you have a hard time networking, it’s important to remember that at the end of the day, perhaps the most valuable thing that a festival can give you is the adventure – and this transcends all. I’m sitting here right now at 30,000 feet, totally unsure of what city I am going to get to sleep in tonight, and fairly convinced that I’m just fucked. Some loudmouth Texas guy is telling me drinking stories, and for some reason I am more in love than ever with festival life. Sure you don’t know where you’ll end up, or what bar you may or may not get stabbed in tonight but that’s exactly why I love it. Because if you can survive the day to day madness of this lifestyle then you can survive anything that the industry might try and throw at you. And in this world of broken hearts and fall aparts, and extremely fucking limited funds – perhaps survival is all that we can ask for.