Music Blogs

How to get YOUR band on at Reading and Leeds Festivals: we asked organiser Jon Mcildowie for advice.

  • By Art. Author Avatar
  • 17 March 2015

How to play at Reading and Leeds Festivals: a chat with organiser, Jon Mcildowie.

Ahead of the 2015 Festival season, SupaJam are going to be sitting down with some of the Europe's biggest and most exciting festival curators/bookers/organisers. We're asking them about all the challenges of running monumental events that define music fans' summer, and how this is developing as the market becomes more and more saturated.

However, we're particularly interested in speaking to festival bookers about what new and emerging bands have to do to give themselves a shot at getting booked for slots that could really have a significiant impact on their careers.

This week, we sat down with Jon Mcildowie, the booker for Reading and Leeds Festivals, and asked them all about the task of putting together festivals of this size.

Thanks for chatting with us, Jon!

How much of an idea do you have of whom you want at the festival before you’ve actually reached out to any artists? Do you try and book as part of grander theme? If so, what are your thoughts behind this year's lineup?

I always try and have a balanced line up with lots of variety. It’s important to challenge people, and get them to try something new. There’s rarely a grand theme although certain year’s do end up taking on a feel of their own

How has Reading/Leeds developed over the past 5/10 years in terms of identity? What are the biggest differences?

We have several new stages. Hip hop and dance has been a big part of the Festivals for 20 years or more but now we are recognising it with dedicated stages which is great.

In the current difficult climate, do limited finances prevent you from doing anything you’d love to?

Most of the time it’s about the availability of acts rather than finances. Great talent only tours so much so you just hope they fancy coming to the UK on your weekend.

Is there anybody you’ve been dying to get that just hasn’t worked out thus far?  

That would be telling…. There’s always a few artists that are elusive but I’ll get them in the end!

How much time can you dedicate to sifting through unsigned artists?

Hours and hours, and we go to see a lot of unsigned acts as well. Live shows are soooo important.

What is the best way for an unsigned band who doesn’t have a label or a booking agent to get on the bill for R&L 2015?

BBC Introducing is a great platform to start with. Getting a good manager always helps an act – then hopefully everything else just falls in to place.

Thanks so much for that.

The festivals take place over the Bank Holiday weekend of 28-30 August. For tickets and more information on Reading Festival visit here, and for Leeds visit here.