4 Essential Tips for Organizing a Music Festival

Organizing a music festival isn’t as simple as setting up a stage and amplifiers in the closest park.

Organizing a music festivalA venture such as this, is a business – and like any other – it requires plenty of attention and step-by-step planning to pull off effectively.

As the music industry model changes, festivals remain one way that hundreds, even thousands of fans can gather in a single place to enjoy performances by their favorite artists.

While consumers purchase their music differently and artists record their songs in new ways, the one constant is that fans want to see musicians play live and the talent is often more than willing to oblige. It may be the one business model in the music industry that is somewhat predictable.

Four Essential Steps

Still, setting up a festival isn’t all fun and games. Some fundamental steps in successfully organizing a music festival from the ground up are as follows:

  1. Create a foundation
    As mentioned earlier, a music festival is a business – and like any business, it will need a plan to survive. To set up that plan, assistance is crucial. Anyone who has prior experience in setting up a festival, an attorney who knows how to navigate any legal roadblocks and a source of funding can all help substantially. These should be people who are offering their wisdom and resources because they really do want to see this event in a community and watch it grow over time, the JP Music Festival noted in its guide to starting festivals. With their help, putting together a business plan should be as simple as regularly meeting and discussing ideas, and narrowing them down into an effective outline.

  2. Become a non-profit
    To make the entire process easier, it is beneficial to become a non-profit. This designation can help festival organizers pull in more donations as well as sponsorship opportunities. Though this requires slogging through some paperwork, ultimately, this will help a growing festival expand even more quickly. Companies will want to invest in sponsoring a non-profit music festival because the amount could be tax deductible and the action will surely get the brand on consumers’ minds.

  3. Find musicians who will perform for free
    It will be hard to pay for Jay-Z as a headliner for a festival that is just starting out. Depending on the funding situation, it could be hard to pay for anyone at all. For neophyte festival organizers, it’s useful to find musicians who are in the same situation and who are just as happy simply getting their names out there as they are receiving checks. Gather all of the performers’ contact information as well as stage plot requirements and be sure to keep them informed as far as protocol and itinerary. This way, all they have to do is show up the day of the festival, sound check and finally, perform.

  4. Learn about permits and other local restrictions
    One of the key obstacles in setting up a music festival is the local regulations. Obtaining permits can be a hassle – likely one that a lawyer can help you with, but a hassle nonetheless. Depending on where you are located, the permit process can change. For example, New York City requires permits for public performances. Use of loudspeakers, megaphones or stereos in a street performance requires a $45 permit, according to the city. Basically, any sort of special event requires a permit especially if the plan is to hold the festival in a park, for example.

Plenty of prior planning goes into organizing a music festival, but taking these proper steps makes it possible to set up a collection of performances virtually anywhere.

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Anthony R. Caruso is a business transactional attorney in New York and New Jersey with experience in structuring, negotiation and completion of legal deals involving business, entrepreneurs, athletes and performers.

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