A Guide to ‘Gig Season’

May 5, 2020

Gig Season

Written by Mae Mariyam Thomas

Conversations about the weather aren’t always helpful or gripping. They usually state the obvious, e.g. “Gosh it’s really hot today” or “this rain is terrible” or “it’s so wonderfully cool and breezy”. I’m going to reassure you at the outset that I’m definitely not going to begin with a climate forecast or a geography lesson.

However, I am going to present a look at gig season or festival season. It’s a time of year for any musician to pile onto lineups to show off their music and performance skills to the biggest crowds they could dream of.

Festival season is from approximately September this year to February the next year. It starts post monsoon. Announcements begin from August so that punters are allowed time to start making their travel plans and work excuses to attend some of the biggest live events in the country.

How to get on these lineups? Well, curators are always looking for new acts or established acts with something new to offer. Considering that they are announcing lineups for their festival from August, send in your press kit (music, bio, photos & videos) to the organisers by March-April-May of that year.

Though this may not be a comprehensive list, it’s a gateway to what you could consider for your next dive into a festival lineup. Do your research and see what you’re comfortable with. Let’s start with some festivals that are genre-agnostic.

Genre-Agnostic Festivals

NH7 Weekender – Been around for over a decade and is held in Pune and Shillong. It has built a reputation for being the coolest, happiest music festival in the country. They feature a stage per genre and usually an indie headliner to reel in that hipster crowd.

VH1 Supersonic – Another Pune-based music festival that allows for a range of different kinds of music and usually features a big chartbusting headliner that brings in significant crowds. They also have considerable marketing and PR opportunities for you to take advantage of as an artist.

Ziro Festival of Music – A 4-day showcase of indie music held in Ziro in Arunachal Pradesh that highlights the music from the North East and brings together artists from all over India and abroad.

The Hornbill Festival – A 10-day celebration of the heritage, culture & tradition of Nagaland that takes place in Kohima. It provides a significant spotlight for indie artists through their battle of the bands and live music events.

Sulafest – a music festival held in the Sula winery in Nasik that happens across 2 days at their performance arena.

Ctrl Alt Del – A crowd-funded music festival held in Mumbai that is an indie festival, made by indie people, with indie people, for indie people.

Genre-bound festivals

Magnetic Fields – one of the most expensive music festivals in India held at the heritage palace of Alsisar Mahal in Rajasthan, that mainly features DJs, producers and electronica artists.

Bangalore Open Air – A metal music fest that brings together black t-shirt donning fans from all over the country to Bangalore to rage and mosh.

Mahindra Blues Festival – A long standing and uniquely blues festival that happens in Mumbai.

Some festivals that feature music as an addition rather than it’s focus:

The Lil Flea – a multi-city bazaar shopping, food & drink festival that features music in the evenings.

Jaipur Lit Fest – Though a literature festival in Jaipur, it also features music acts on their lineup.

Festivals During Quarantine

Now it’s great that I’m suggesting numerous live events and festivals that you can potentially be a part of however, in the current climate where we’re in the midst of a medical crisis, there is huge uncertainty over when and how events will take place. Considering that social distancing is going to be imperative for a while and restrictions on social gatherings will continue due to the fear of contracting coronavirus – venues, event management companies, organisers, and promoters have had to make a pivot to online. For instance,

  • NH7 recently did a 3-day online instagram live festival.
  • Artist management agency Big Bad Wolf & ticketing platform Bookmyshow have collaborated to start a series called Live From HQ where you can watch musicians, poets, and big personalities live from their instagram handles.
  • Kerplunk 7 is a 7-day marathon of live streams to support independent artists.
  • Indiatimes, MensXP & iDiva organised an instagram live stream with numerous indie artists called In This Together.
  • JioSaavn and Dolby came together to create a property called Live Anywhere, that had performances on their Facebook Live across 2 weekends. Through the streams, the artists will get monetary compensation.
  • BUDxHome from their live event has now become an online stream on facebook with electronica artists.

I would also consider keeping in touch with the festivals I’ve mentioned previously because everyone is working towards making changes to how they go live – if not on-ground then online. There is still a potential for you to be considered for their lineup in that scenario too.

This is just the beginning and as time goes by, more and more people will have more and more ideas for how to create opportunities during these trying times. If you have an idea, you might as well try it now because no one knows what will work or not. Everyone is in the same boat (indoors of course), making mistakes and trying new things.