How the fest
They’re questions which puzzle many music fans. Why do bands end up playing one festival and not another? Why do major talents end up lower on the bill than lesser ones? Jim Carroll presents a rough guide to how acts get booked for festivals
I thought my favourite band were going to play Electric Picnic, but they ended up at Oxegen instead. I’m fuming. What gives? There are several reasons why bands end up playing one festival rather than another. It has a lot to do with a band’s schedule, but most of these decisions come down to cash and – perhaps the most important person in the whole live-music equation – the agent. I didn’t know that Ari Gold from Entourage booked out indie bands. Ari probably has his hands too full with Vincent Chase at the moment to take on a couple of indie landfill acts. However, the vast majority of bands have an agent who book their tours, negotiate their fees and deal with the promoters.
When the bands make cash, they makes cash. The agent is the band’s Ten-To-Fifteen Per Cent guy, and they are the ones with the real power. This has to do with the whole live-musicis-the-new-rock-and-roll thing, right? Well, agents have always had a big say when it comes to who plays where and when. For the promoter putting on a show or festival, developing and maintaining a good working relationship with agents is essential. I assume, then, that the agents play each promoter off against one other in the best interests of the band. In theory, yes. A band will decide they’re going on the road and there’s an opportunity for a few shows in Ireland.
The agent will then talk to the “big three” promoters (MCD, Aiken Promotions and POD) and, depending on the band, may also contact a few of the indie promoters such as Forever Presents, Umack and Foggy Notions. Like we said, that’s what should happen.