Hard though it is for most people who know us to believe we do actually have a method to our music festival madness, at least when it comes to the music selection!
We start almost straight after the festival, after a suitable rest period of about 3 weeks, when we talk to our brilliant venue managers and ask them for feedback on who was great and deserves to come back.
We only allow about a 10% return rate so this is a vital part of the job. Also, there is no way we can get round all the bands in all the venues over the festival so we rely heavily on this as well as feedback from the public.
Then we open up the applications process through the website. Most years we get enough applications to fill the festival about 10 times over so most of the rest of summer is spent listening to each one (we listen to every application), short listing the ones we like and getting prices from the acts – you would not believe how many people put zero fee or really low sums on their applications only to tell us they want hundreds of pounds once we express an interest!
We also don’t just go on the videos the acts send us, Simon especially spends hours scouring the internet for all the live videos he can find of acts under consideration.
We also use this time to start to approach bands we have seen or heard of that we think might be a good fit for us. This can be much more difficult as we are convincing the bands that this is a good gig for them.
We use agents we have worked with before as they tend to have had good feedback from acts who have performed for us – we have a hard won reputation for being friendly and accommodating to the acts and for being real music lovers, it goes a long way.
The excitement when we get a band we really want for the right money is probably our joint favourite bit of the job!
We are often asked about our selection criteria and the answer is that we don’t have just one – we have many. In a (simple) nutshell, we look for bands or artists that are excellent live, we want a good mix and range of genres of music, some crowd pleasing ‘covers bands’ as well as the best original music we can find.
We like to try to find a balance between men and women where possible and we are always looking out for something quirky, interesting or a bit different. We never know until we hear it what we really want!
After the initial shortlisting we invite a select group in – including the chairman, vice chairman and a couple of modern music specialists (young people) to have a glass of wine or two and listen to everything we have got, it really helps because otherwise we can easily get tunnel vision and stop being able to see the wood for the trees.
By September we are fleshing out the line up, deciding who could play where – Simon is the absolute last word in the order of the bands as he has an amazing ear for a day’s line up as a whole.
October to December are spent dealing with all the smaller bookings and bickering almost constantly about who goes where – luckily our long friendship hasn’t suffered too much….yet.
We are then shaping the Spotify and You Tube lists and listening to the music all the time – we are lucky enough to work together every day so we have the playlists on all the time.
Emilie is usually tied up in this period with her beloved spreadsheets and starting on the estimated 2000 emails that get sent and received during this process.
And then the hard work really begins!