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Date posted:07 Aug 2012
The Association of Independent Festivals (AIF), and online promotion platform Sonicbids are teaming up to launch an initiative supposedly focused on "Placing grassroots acts in the UK’s independent festivals". The Gen takes a closer look.
The ‘Road to Independents’ initiative claims to circumvent the usual channels of management and agents by connecting emerging artists directly onto the bill of a member festival of the AIF- either three international acts or two from the UK playing each festival, a total of 35 slots.
Essentially, each festival using this will have a listing created stating the slots they are interested in filling and style of music it is looking for. The listings are then left open for four to six weeks during which artists can submit music, press kits and further information. Sonicbids then pays the festivals a significant sum of money for putting these acts on, with events such as Bestival and Standon Calling already signed up.
Emmy Buckingham, Membership Manager of the AIF said in a statement: "The Road to Independents initiative is an exciting development amidst recent talk of a withering festival industry and ageing headline acts."
Fair point about ageing headline acts, reunion tours and same old same old. We couldn’t agree more that festival line-ups generally need a shot in the arm and to get emerging talent on the bill, which we appreciate is so much easier said than done for festival promoters.
However, The Gen must ask: Is this a further step in the ‘Monetization’ of the A and R process or even simply an extension of the age old ‘pay to play’ principle? Basically, festivals are being paid to put these artists on, which renders the idea of an actual ‘Road to Independence’ redundant. The more festivals participate, the more money the AIF will seemingly receive from Sonicbids.
For all of the good work of the AIF, it seems that in this instance, everyone is a winner apart from the artists- thousands of them will apply and over 99% won’t get a show. The ones who do get through have essentially bought onto the bill, also snapping up 35 earlier slots on smaller stages that would typically go to emerging artists from the region of the festival.