Should Artists Pay for Festival Submissions? GigMaven Says No Way

  • Save

You know the old saying: ‘you gotta pay to play’.

But should artists be required to pay to submit to festivals, even if they end up not playing (ie, getting rejected)?  This has been a long-running complaint among artists and managers at places like SXSW, where bands are required to pay a fee through Sonicbids for consideration.

And so what?  Doesn’t the payment of an entry fee signal some level of seriousness?  And, shouldn’t promoters have the right to normalize the chaos of submissions?  “It’s ultimately the choice of the promoter out there,” Sonicbids founder Panos Panay recently told Digital Music News.  “When you’re applying to college, the college says ‘this is the way I need you to apply for me.'”

But what about shifting the payment obligation onto the festival promoters, instead of the artists?  Well, that’s exactly the model being pursued by GigMaven, a company specialized in booking, ticketing, and promoting gigs.  In fact, GigMaven counts Make Music New York among its first festival clients – but the critical difference is that GigMaven wants festivals to pay for the service, not artists.  “I’ve never been a big fan of the premium artists have to pay because of Sonicbids,” said Howard Han, GigMaven founder and CEO.  “It’s bad for artists and although it provides short term cash for festivals, it damages their reputation in the long run.”

This is a licensed white label submissions service, another key difference.  But can Han unseat Sonicbids, arguably the standard in this space and a company with years of specialized experience?  Sounds like a difficult challenge, though Han is slowly chipping away.  “We plan on pitching the larger festivals but I [first] want to sign up more smaller festivals…”