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Negotiating With Performance Artists for Music Festivals.

Andy Robertson

Running a successful music festival will depend to a large extent on the headline acts that can be secured. The selection of performance artists confirmed will help sell tickets and provides an excellent platform for the marketing and promotion of the music festival. What are the key steps organisers should take to negotiate with performance artists to secure them at the best rate. 


Every music festival will have a budget for performance artist fees and generally will be split between key categories, headline acts, support acts and new and up and coming artists for example. The fees each charge can vary hugely but there are some factors than can really help organisers secure an impressive line–up without breaking the bank. 

Relationships and Networking.
Music festival organisers will usually have someone responsible for artist or talent curation and those individuals will likely have existing relationships with key industry figures, promoters and artist’s managers. These relationships can help secure artists and smooth out negotiations when it comes to any fees agreed. The organising entity should create a wish list at an early stage to give those responsible for curation a starting target.

Agreeing the Fee. 
Some artist management companies have published rates for booking artists but these should be taken as a starting point for negotiation. Festival organisers will perhaps have a target list of 20 or more headline acts with a rough estimate of the fee they are willing to pay. It makes sense to start negotiations with the first offer which will be considerably lower than the published rate. It is likely that counter offers will bounce back and forth until both parties are satisfied with an agreed rate. If the artist refuses to negotiate there is nothing wrong with walking away and moving to the next artist on a target list.

Added Extras.
Festival organisers can entice an artist to be more willing to take a lower fee if they can offer concessions to make an overall package more acceptable. This may include pre-organised travel and accommodation plus meals at no additional cost example. Additional benefits can be offered including well equipped dressing rooms and assistance with sound check engineers plus set up and tear down help. Any concessions can be included in the artist’s riders once the fee and contracts are agreed.

Other Factors. 
Sometimes an artist can reject an offer simply because of the timing involved, perhaps they already have commitments at other events. Organisers can sometimes work around these obstacles by providing flexible set times and organising expedited travel arrangements. It is not unusual to have a headline act performing at 2 different festivals in different locations on the same day. Once fees and concessions have been agreed organisers should ensure that an appropriate contract is signed, most festival organisers have a standard contract format but be prepared for the artist’s management team to insist on their own version of contract.

With good planning and an experienced team festival organisers should be able to secure their desired line-up that delivers performance artists attractive to festival-goers but that fits well within their planned financial budgets too.

For organisers planning their music festival or live events using a software management platform like Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need manage every aspect of their event logistics and artist management. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, venues/stages, vendors, volunteers, sponsors, guestlists, ticketing, cashless payments and contactless ordering.

Photo by Alexander Suhorucov from Pexels

Andy Robertson
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