Posted: 27 August 2019

Updated: 27 April 2022

How to make your first festival a success

Read time: 4 mins

You’ve landed a spot on a festival stage, that’s the hard part over with, right? Not quite. Now you need to put on a killer show and prove that you were the right choice. Even to experienced giggers, playing a festival can be a shock to the system. In this article, we will look at how you should prepare for the big day.

There are some key things that you need to consider before you take to the stage:

  • Advance information
  • Set list
  • Royalties (get paid for playing your own songs!)
  • Stocking up on the essentials
  • What to do on the day


Advance information

Unlike a local show, a festival will ask for your tech information in advance and probably in more detail. Time to get familiar with two terms: stage plan and tech spec. A stage plan (or plot) is a visual representation of how you position yourself on stage, the gear you use and how it’s set up.

The tech spec details your entire technical rig for the performance, this will allow the engineer to have a better idea of what they need to prepare for your performance. Once you’ve provided this information, try not to change it unless you really have to (new instruments, extra members etc.) and if you do, let the engineer know before you turn up on the day.

Stocking up on the essentials

In all the excitement, it’s easy to forget about packing the essentials. Bring more than you need and make an equipment list; if your only jack lead breaks that will be the end of your big festival appearance! Be sure stock up on drumsticks, guitar strings, plectrums, and other breakables. Prepare for extreme weather with wellies, spare clothes, and sunscreen—sunburn isn’t very rock n’ roll.

what to do On the day

trust the techs

Don’t worry if your soundcheck is short—or if you don’t get one at all—trust the fact that the techs know what they’re doing. It’s their job to get your levels right in a short space of time and that’s part of the reason why they ask for an input list in advance. You sound may feel different to you on stage, especially as you’re in a big outdoor space, but the audience won’t be aware of any of that.


If you’re lucky enough to get access to a VIP or artist area this can be a great space to connect with other musicians. You’ve earned the right to be there so don’t be afraid to say hello to your favourite band or exchange contacts with artists you want to collaborate with. Although you might not have any interviews planned, introduce yourself to the press and invite them to watch your set. It’s also worth looking out for label reps and managers.

As fun as the VIP area can be, don’t forget to get out and mingle with the other festival goers. It’s a great chance gain new fans and people will love the fact that you’re so down to earth and approachable.