Let’s make 2021 an unforgettable year for you and your music career. At Spinnup we want your music to get the attention that it deserves. One of the best ways to really boost your chances of getting discovered this year is playing at a festival. Yes – we’re barely into 2021 and it’s that time already. Our music festival applications guide for this brand-new year is here.
In this article we’re covering:
- – What to do before applying to play at a music festival
- – Things to consider when finding music festivals to play at
- – The best European music festivals that have open submissions for 2021
We understand that you might be thinking that the very idea of playing at a music festival is but a dream at the moment, but if 2020 taught us anything, it’s that life is super unpredictable! Despite all the uncertainty, we’re keeping our fingers crossed that our beloved festivals can go ahead safely this year. And you’ll be kicking yourself if you didn’t apply to any. So, go for it. What have you got to lose?
Because at Spinnup we love you, and your music career is more important to us than anything, we’re here to help. Which is why each and every year we put together a list of some European Festival opportunities for you to apply to, and this year is no different.
Before we dive into those festival opportunities, we thought we’d remind you of a few points to consider.
Do your research.
Although we’ve provided a short summary of the festivals you can apply to below, we encourage you to do some further research on these festivals and any others you’d like to apply to. Check out their social channels, website and have a look at past and upcoming line-ups to get a real feel of the festival to see whether or not you’d fit the bill. Don’t just apply to all festivals for the sake of it – it would be a waste of both yours and their time.
Read each application carefully.
Pay attention to all the details. As every application will differ from the next, you must read the instructions to see what each festival application requires from you. For example, some will only accept artists from certain areas, or of particular genres. Some will want you to pitch via email, while others will have their own application forms.
Put your best foot forward.
This is your time to shine.
- Get your social and online presence up-to-date and looking the best it can be. This also goes for your EPK, artist bio or website.
- When submitting tracks, we advise that you choose your best, or the ones that you feel represent your current sound.
- Always showcase your best achievements to date. You might already have a good history of live performances. Maybe you’ve supported a big band. Maybe you’ve had some great press coverage. Think about what makes you stand out among other artists.
Consider logistics, admin (the boring stuff).
It’s important to think about all the logistical factors of playing a festival just like you would a gig. You will need to consider how you will get to the festival (especially if it’s overseas), any visas that might be required, what the outgoings will be, negotiating a rate (if applicable), finding accommodation, transportation of equipment and instruments and so on.
If you are in a band or rely on others for gigs, it’s a good idea to have a meeting to discuss these things.
If you manage to land yourself that sought-after festival slot, congratulations! Playing at a festival could be a pivotal moment in your music career and therefore it’s important to be as prepared as possible. This will include rehearsing as much as you can and putting together a sick setlist so that you are ready to play the show of your lives. Check out our blog post on live show etiquette if you want to read more.
Good luck, and let us know if you get a spot.
c/o pop Festival – Cologne, Germany (22nd – 23rd April 2021)
c/o pop is a festival of discovery, welcoming established artists and newcomers of a variety of genres to multiple indoor and outdoor locations in Cologne, Germany. The festival’s highlights include special events, from label nights to showcases and networking events where labels and musicians can get to know one another. Several notable acts such as Roosevelt and Moderat have played c/o pop before their breakthroughs – proof that c/o pop is a great stepping-stone to international success.
To apply email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Liverpool Sound City – Liverpool, UK (30th April – 2nd May 2021)
**Update, March 1st**
Liverpool Sound City has now been moved to 1-3 October 2021
Discover the best music at Sound City, the UK’s leading independent music festival and conference. Taking place across the Baltic Triangle, Liverpool’s cultural and creative hub, this unforgettable three-day festival captures the vibrancy and buzz of the city, and of course, its famous musical heritage. Sound City has hosted some of the biggest acts on the planet at the start of their careers – it’s another birthplace for future success. This year the best emerging talent will perform alongside established artists.
Apply through Gigmit. Be quick, as applications close 15th Jan 2021.
The Great Escape – Brighton, UK (12th – 15th May 2021)
**UPDATE, March 1st**
The Great Escape has been cancelled for 2021 in live form but will become an online event taking place 13-14 May.
Taking place across Brighton’s many venues and beaches, The Great Escape Festival showcases artists from around the world. It’s the festival to see your new favourite artist in an intimate setting before they make it big! The Great Escape has established itself internationally as the top place in Europe to discover new music, as well as being attended by the music industry who are on the lookout for the next big thing – making this festival an absolute must for new and up-and-coming artists.
Apply here by 17th March 2021.
Nuits Sonores – Lyon, France (DATE TBA – usually takes place in May)
Electronic music festival, Nuits Sonores, is set across over 50 exclusive locations in Lyon, France. This multi-disciplinary event brings together big names with both French and international artists of all electronic and indie genres. It’s pop-up architecture and stage design invites festival-goers to discover the historic Lyon under a different light.
Use the contact page on the Nuits Sonores festival website to apply.
Sweden Rock – Norje, Sweden (9th – 12th June 2021)
Taking place in Norje in southern Sweden, Sweden Rock offers the best mix of classic rock, hard rock, metal, blues and more related genres. The Nordic rock festival not only offers the best music in the world but prides itself on its excellent service, warm-hearted atmosphere and hospitality, aiming to improve its guests’ level of comfort year on year. Sweden Rock has gained a reputation of being one of the best-organised festivals in the world.
Eden Festival – Scotland, UK (10th – 13th June 2021)
Eden Festival is a vibrant and energetic independent boutique festival, held in the stunning Raehills Meadows in Scotland. It showcases the freshest music from big acts to an abundance of unsigned talent across an array of genres, sourced from all over Scotland and the UK. Eden Festival adopts a sustainable and environmentally friendly approach.
Sea Sessions – Bundoran, Ireland (18th – 20th June 2021)
Sea Sessions is set in the world-renowned surfing town of Bundoran. From its humble beginnings in 2008, Sea Sessions has grown into one of the top music festivals in Ireland as well as being the only festival in Ireland that brings together surfing, music, skateboarding, BMX, graffiti and so much more. Its music ranges from international acts to home-grown names with past lineups including Sigrid, Dizzee Rascal and Bastille.
To apply, please email email@example.com.
Couleur Café – Brussels, Belgium (25th – 27th June 2021)
Couleur Café is an urban contemporary music festival, held in Brussels, Belgium. This festival has a creative and carnival atmosphere, inviting a diverse lineup of artists from all around the world with a strong focus on the music of African and Caribbean origin, from reggae to funk, soul and hip-hop. This year’s lineup includes Shaggy and Fally Ipupa.
Apply asap by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.
Barn on the Farm – Gloucester, UK (1st – 4th July 2021)
Barn on the Farm is a small independent festival set in Gloucester that focuses on bringing its audience the best in new music. Barn on the Farm is another festival with a history of hosting artists before they made it big, such as Jack Garratt and James Bay. The festival has a strong focus on intimacy and creating connections between audiences and artists.
If you’re in a band and interested in playing, then send an email to the booking team at email@example.com with some music attached and a bit about yourselves.
Nass Festival – Bristol, UK (8th – 11th July 2021)
Nass Festival promises an incredible weekend of music, street art, skate and BMX at the Royal Bath and West Showground. Nass is the UK’s only professional action sport and music festival which sees several competitions battled out by some of the biggest names on the international scene. Its music covers genres from drum and bass to hip-hop and has seen acts such as Giggs, Cypress Hill and Loyle Carner.
Applications for up-and-coming acts will open early this year, so keep checking back on the site.
Truck Festival – Oxford, UK (23rd – 25th July 2021)
Taking place at Hill Farm in Oxford, Truck Festival is one of the UK’s longest-running and most popular boutique festivals. It was started in 1998 by the Bennett family who felt that mainstream festivals such as Glastonbury had become too commercial and predictable. Truck showcases indie stars both big and emerging as well as dance and drum and bass after sunset. Previous lineups have included acts such as Catfish and the Bottlemen, Sundara Karma and Kate Nash.
Green Man – Wales, UK (19th – 22nd August 2021)
This independent festival is set against the beautiful backdrop of the Brecon Beacons and its stunning Black Mountains. Green Man has grown to have a reputation as one of the best festivals in Europe, with an ethos of zero corporate sponsorship, local suppliers and a big focus on being green (hence the name). Its high-quality music lineup features all sorts of genres from psychedelia to folk.
Apply through Green Man Rising – Emerging band competition. Entries will open around mid-2021.
Reeperbahn – Hamburg, Germany (22nd – 25th Sept 2021)
Reeperbahn Festival is the largest club festival in Germany and is held in the famous Reeperbahn district in Hamburg. Combining a vast line-up of talent, new and international, the festival has become one of the most important meeting places for the world of music. As well as music, it showcases a programme of visual arts, networking events, award shows and more.
Over the past couple of years of Reeperbahn, we’ve been lucky enough to host a Spinnup Stage where hand-picked German Spinnup artists are invited to play.
Apply here by 23rd July 2021.
Isle of Wight Festival – Isle of Wight, UK (RESCHEDULED 16th – 19th September 2021)
The famous Isle of Wight Festival is set in a gorgeous location in Newport, just a stone’s throw away from the sea. Over its extraordinary run of 50 plus years, it’s stages have been graced by legends such as The Rolling Stones, Jimi Hendrix and Sir Paul McCartney, as well as up-and-coming artists. Isle of Wight is an iconic festival for real music lovers of all ages.
Please submit your details here.
We all know things can be unpredictable with the current going on in the world, so keep your eyes on message boards for musicians and the websites of the above festivals and any others we might have missed to see whether they will go ahead in 2021.
And as not all festivals we would usually include have posted info as to their 2021 plans, we’ve listed them below so you can check back in on their websites from time to time for more updated info.
Just because the world has been tipped on its head it doesn’t mean your music, or live career, should grind to a halt! Even if you don’t land a spot on a festival lineup, you can still gig locally or even from home. Check out our guide on how to put on a livestream gig from home and keep people’s toes tapping.