2018 Canadian Festival List & How To Set Yourself Apart In DJ Applications: According to Festival Promoters

Have you ever wondered how you could set yourself apart among the many artists submitting to music festivals? We talked to the pros, the people review submissions, fully invested in booking and running these festivals. They gave us some valuable information on how to get on their radar, stand out during the submission process and how to ensure a lasting positive impression once actually performing at these festivals. Leaving the kind of impact that gets you booked year after year. 

This is what Garret Friesen aka J.A. DJ, co-founder of Truespin Records, owner & operator at Smash n Grab Records and co-founder of Emotion Festival, had to say.

Emotion Music Festival - Stoney Ridge Campground
How can an artist get on your radar outside of music submissions?

Continue to work on their brand and get their name out there on shows, radio; anything to show that you’re serious about the music.

How can an artist application stand out among the rest?

A personal message to the festival is nice, proper media kits, links and fresh music. I don’t want to hear a mix from 3 years ago.

How can an artist ensure to leave a lasting impression both on the promoters and the audience?

Be professional, thank the promoter, audience and make sure you get that one on one time with the promoter or crew of the festival. I always ask my crew who they thought was great and who they connected with. We tend to bring those people back.

Kaeli Khaos manager and CEO of Enter Sandman Festival had a few things to add.

I guess the best way to get on the radar outside of music submissions would  be showing interest in the event itself. And for us personally  we are a grassroots event.  So its especially  important  to have support  from artists who would like to see it grow and  become a local spot for said folks!

I feel like an artists application can stand out the rest by being genuine. Playing from the heart and playing your own music, even if it may not sound quite as crisp. Really enjoy the time you spend making a mix/tracks. But most of all, playing for you. Don’t play for other’s expectations, as you don’t tend to do your best.

As for the last point: a lasting impression may not necessarily be a good one. Some say bad publicity is still good publicity. Don’t get too drunk. Lol. That leaves an impression. But seriously I feel like a performer has to captivate the crowd. Moving around and having stage presence is important. Showing the crowd you really enjoy the music you are sharing. Im sure there is much more but I feel like this is an
important one.



Fozzy Fest

Talent Director Adam Bradley at Fozzy Fests and co-founder & CEO of Truespin Records, points out a couple things that really stood out to me. 

How can an artist get on your radar outside of music submissions?
First thing would be if you are in the area then coming out to events and showing support. Volunteering at our pre-parties when we need and helping out around the scene in general. We like people who care about what we do and want to help bring things to the next level.
Also of happen to not be in Calgary then volunteering at the main festival goes along way. A lot of our artists started out as stage hands, front gate or even security back in the early days.
Finally being present online with posts, shares, comments, & just being excited about FozzyFest in general. We are a close knit, and very passionate team and like to welcome like minded individuals to play. 

How can an artist application stand out among the rest?
Be as original as possible these days. We know it’s tough with there being so many artists out there but just digging for those extra special couple tracks that set your sound apart from the rest can go along way. Also original material. Even if it isn’t the best production, the fact that you are putting your all into your craft and trying to better your music means a lot, shows passion & dedication. And finally if you play any live instruments then see if there is a way to incorporate them into your set / sounds. Be the next K+Lab with a keytar type idea. I personally love seeing artists bring new things to the table that I wouldn’t have thought of that work so so well.

 

How can an artist ensure to leave a last impression both on the promoters and the audience?
I’d say again, try and be as original as possible, whether it be instruments, visuals for us to put in the screens, or just showing that little bit extra of confidence in your abilities goes along way, but careful not to be arrogant cause well, we all know we’re that’ll get you haha
And that brings me to my final point… Just have fun! Audience’s love being interactive with the artists and if the artist is up there jamming out with a big smile on their face and right with the crowd and not have their heads down staring at the decks or look out of sorts / not having fun, then the crowd will keep coming back to you for more.

Bass In The Bush

Jordan Chappel festival organizer and talent booker of Bass in the Bush reminds us that:

An artist can get on our radar by either having friends tell us through the grapevine, or seeing artists play venues close to town or music festivals.

How an artist application can stand out is by having a more professional style email sent in, with a little write up about yourself and the style music you play. Make sure its the right style for the venue or show you are applying for. EX. If its a real heavy bass show don’t apply saying you a psy trance dj.”

Last but not least, when it comes to lasting impressions:
“Humbleness is key for me. We deal with a lot of djs throughout the year; with shows in Saskatoon and our festival. The djs that stick out most are the ones who have good stage presence. Stickers are always key in making people remember you and get lost in the crowd, make friends with your audience and promoters!”


Agata Raymond Photography

Dylan Havok aka Sevnde production manager of Odyssey Gathering had the last words on this as he prep for travel overseas:

Getting on the radar?

– Play out
– Throw events
– Produce music
– Build a following.
– Be more active on social media ie. status posts, page posts, group posts, shared community posts

Standing out on submissions?

– Keep is short but personalized (unique) have relevant music links (newish mixes or tracks that will reflect what you will bring to the event.)
– High quality photo, a set up Facebook page and a soundcloud (mixcloud), evidence of a dj/ producers activity, visible tour dates or fresh material.

Be familiar with the festivals vibes – check out previous lineups. If we don’t have any of a specific genre in previous years chances are we might not have that genre next year. Apply for events that you would be a good fit.

And finally here is our electronic music festival list for Canada. Did we miss any?

Song & Surf Feb.09-11 Renfrew, BC
Bass in the Bush May 18-21 Sask, SK
Vibrant Music Festival June 01-03 Invermere, BC
Cosmic Dream June 01-03 Alberta
Odyssey Gathering Jun.01-03 Alberta
Festival D’ete De Quebec Jun.05-15 Quebec
Ever After Jun.08-10 Kitchener, Ontario
SolSask Fest June 21-24 Saskatchewan
Escapade Fest June 23-24 Ottawa. On
KAMP Fest Jun.29-Jul.02 Kootenays, BC
Curiosity Festival June 29-Jul.02 Okanagan Valley, BC
RBC Bluefest July. 05-18 Ottawa. On
Bass Coast July 06-09 Merrit, BC
Evolve Festival July 06-09 Moncton, NB
Astral Harvest July 13-16 Alberta
Future Forest July 26-30 Fredericton, NB
Center of Gravity July 27-29 Kelowna, BC
Emotion Aug.02-05 Manitoba
Electric Sky Aug.03-05 Sask, SK
Osheaga Aug.03-5 Montreal, QC
Veld Fest Aug.04-05 Toronto, On
Chasing Summer Aug.04-05 Calgary, AB
Shambula Aug.10-13 Salmo, BC ( Near by)
Memetic Aug.16-19 Winnipeg, MB
Lethbridge Electronic Music Festival Aug.18 Lethbridge
Mutek Aug.22-26 Montreal, QC
Motion Notion Aug.24-27 Golden, BC ( Near by)
Enter Sandman Festival Aug. 31-Sept.03
Fozzy Fest Sept.13-16 Lake Koocanusa, BC
Wicked Woods Sept.27-30 Fairmont Hotsprings, BC
Piknik Electronic Summer Montreal, QB

Please keep in mind that some festivals are not listed because they have either not posted 2018 dates or are not running until 2019. Please double check before you send us a request to change the list. Thanks!

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How to land DJ gigs during festival season

There are two mains ways to go about getting gigs during festival season.

Photo by Whiting Photography - DJ Kilma

Photo by Whiting Photography – DJ Kilma (Bomb Squad Entertainment)

1. Pay your way out, work for free at the festival and get that crappy time slot you’ve always dreamed of…
or
2. Prepare your press-packs, up your social media game and show promoters why you’re the kind of artist they’d want to book.

I’m not going to lie to you and tell you that there is some sort of big secret to getting a DJ gig, But getting the right DJ gig, with a quality time slot and pay is something that takes true finesse and practice. No, you don’t have to sell your soul but you will need an open mind, to work hard, be consistent, have a positive attitude and know what you’re worth.

Photo by Whiting Photography  - DJ Kovas & GDubz

Photo by Whiting Photography – DJ Kovas & GDubz (Dimensional Rift)

Set yourself apart
If you’re still struggling to define your brand, it may be time to go back to the drawing board. Take a look at yourself, your brand and what you want it to SAY about you and the experience you bring.

Give your brand a face lift
No I’m not talking plastic surgery. I’m talking websites, social media pages and even a new photo shoot. Artists that are consistent in the work they put into their brand tend to be the ones consider for the job. If you haven’t made a mix in 6 plus months, get on that!

Photo by Whiting Photography  - The Jeeves

Photo by Whiting Photography – The Jeeves (Dimensional Rift)

Know your self-worth
Most artists will tell you about how they are “doing it for the music” and that they don’t really care if they get paid. For someone looking to con you, you’re an easy target. For a professional they are hearing, “I don’t value what I do.”

Create a fan base with their crowd
When an artist has fans in other cities, you bet they are chatting you up to local promoters and festival goers. Fans that are engaging and interested in what you are doing are the best types of fans. So take the time to get to know people, find out what they enjoy and bring some new music to their ears so they too can share with the masses.

Photo by Whiting Photography - Andy B (Dimensional Rift)

Photo by Whiting Photography – Andy B (Dimensional Rift)

Press-Kit
Your press-pack is your dj resume. It will include your links, bio, press-release, press-photos, logos and music. There are a few ways you can go about presenting a press-kit which I elaborated on in this article.

Reach out to online magazines and blogs
This is where it gets tricky. You want online magazines that are legit but you also need to have an edge they are willing to feature or interview. Maybe you are a dj and producer with some new great tracks. Maybe you’ve landed some dj gigs in the surrounding areas and want to get the word out with an interview. This is where your press-kit and people skills will come into play.

Photo by Whiting Photography  - Artist Pumpkin (Shambhala)

Photo by Whiting Photography – Artist Pumpkin (Shambhala)

Landing the gig – Choosing your approach

1.
Some festivals have a specific routine they require in order for someone to be considering for bookings. It may be stated on their website or posted on a Facebook page. This is one approach you can use. However please CAREFULLY READ and note any stipulations. Often these are unpaid time slots with the promise of a couple free tickets and if you’re lucky your gas may be paid for. If you are okay with this, by all means you should do it. However if you’re looking to get those really great time slots this is where your negotiating skills will come in handy. Set some simple requirements to ensure your needs are met. (Read more here on how to not get screwed.) And if EVER you choose to do a gig for free in thoughts that it is “great exposure” actually network while you are there. Hand out business cards, talk to people, give out promotional cds and stickers.

2.
Your challenge if you choose to accept it is to take things one step further. There are a lot of different ways people get into contact with festival organizers but you want to make sure that you are authentic, not spammy. Do your research, converse with these people, show your support. Don’t wait until festival season to share your work or strike up a conversation. And don’t always make it about music. Landing an awesome quality gig is far better than playing 16 crappy ones. Like the fantastic music you play, choose quality gigs over quantity of gigs.

Recap
Landing quality gigs is no small task but I know that YOU are dedicated, ready for the challenge and going to do what it takes.  The reason you will get the gigs you deserve is because YOU are putting in the work and you’re doing it the right way. Or at least the way that gains you the recognition  you deserve. Good luck my DJ friends!

Were these tips helpful? Do you have a success story? What are your tips and tricks for landing great DJ gigs? (Tell us in the comments.)

Electronic Music Festivals in Canada
Elysium (Ness Creak, SK)
Astral Harvest (Driftpile, AB)
Dimensional Rift ( St. Laurent, MB)
Awakening (Chetwynd, BC)
Motion Notion (Golden, BC)
Future Forrest (Keswick, NB)
Connect (Besant Campground, SK)
Basscoast (Merrit, BC)
Shambhala (Salmo River Ranch, BC)
Wanderlust Tremblant (ON)
Phantasm Festival (Young, SK)