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15 Step Guide To Starting A Local Music Festival

JpmusicfestThe organizers of the JP Music Festival in Jamaica Plains, a Boston neighborhood, released a guide to how they pulled off a successful new music festival on a local level despite financial challenges. The 15 step guide reveals the approach taken by festival organizers who were recently interviewed by The Future of Music Coalition. They share additional down-to-earth insights in the interview into how they made it work.

The first JP Music Festival took place in August 2011 and did well enough that they're holding it again in September 2012. The Festival featured 21 acts that each had at least one member who lived in the Jamaica Plains neighborhood in Boston. One of many publicity tools was a mixtape of music by the performers that was posted on SoundCloud and is embedded below.

Mixtape for the First JP Music Festival

Daniel Eno spoke with founders Rick Berlin and Shamus Moynihan along with marketing director Charlie McEnerney. In the interview they emphasize the community aspects of the Festival, the focus on supporting local music rather than making money for the producers and the need to put together a strong team to pull off such an event.

After the Festival, they created a 15 step guide to share what they learned and to encourage others to develop local music events despite the wide range of obstacles.

15 Steps to Starting a Local Music Festival (in a bad economy)

1) Form a small, strong, determined committee who want to see local music get the attention and respect it deserves.

2) Become a non-profit.

3) Organize small fund raisers leading up to the big day.

4) Create some buzz.

5) Organize regular events at local music venues.

6) Organize a Kickstarter campaign.

7) Ask a local music retailer to donate back line drums and amps for use during the festival in exchange for a prime sponsorship of the festival.

8) Keep the production costs low.

9) Ask musicians and performers to play for free to help get the festival off the ground.

10) Find an outdoor space that you can utilize for free.

11) Seek sponsor dollars from local restaurants, cafes, retailers, education outlets, etc.

12) Do strategic, inexpensive marketing.

13) Keep it free.

14) Have food available on-site for sale.

15) Document the event.

Though the JP Music Festival focused on supporting local music in a community setting despite financial difficulties, it's important to remember that successful music festivals can also offer financial benefits to the communities that host them.


Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith blogs about business at Flux Research: Business & Revenue Models and about dance at All World Dance: News. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.