How to get booked for the Henley Festival (and much more) by Artistic Director Stewart Collins


If you want to work at some of the most prestigious music festivals in the UK, this Podcast is a must listen. After singing his way around the world as part of the group Cantable, Stewart Collins spotted an advert inviting applications for a new Artistic Director of the Henley Festival. He applied, got the job and has since directed over fifty festivals and hired thousands of artistes.

Stuart explains his role – part of which is finding the right acts for each festival – and what he looks for in his artistes. He explains why he really must see an act perform himself before booking them and why he rarely trusts recommendations, even from colleagues in the business. Importantly he tells us exactly how he chooses them. According to Stuart, the act should be:

> especially talented, or “bloody good,” as he says, at their job,

> unique in some way – he doesn’t just want more of the same,

> be a great communicator with the audience.

Stuart says, “what happens between the songs is almost more important than the songs themselves because you create the mood and the ambience. To me, the dream artiste is one who sits at the piano and plays beautifully, sings beautifully or whatever, and then stands up and really charms the audience. Every minute you’re on stage is a vital minute. You can loose an audience at any time.”

He tells us about one act he knows who has one of the greatest voices in our business: “She does really interesting material and then ruins it by simply not knowing what to say about the songs. It’s about finding herself as well as herself within the music.”

Probably the best part of the interview for we artistes is when Stuart explains in exact detail (he couldn’t be more specific) how we can get booked for one of his festivals. We talk at length about what he wants to see in the introductory email, how long a YouTube clip should be and what should be in it, and what kind of pictures he wants to see. We discuss artistes using agents or going direct, the ideal size of band the artiste should bring along and the future for cabaret artistes in general.

You can read more about Stewart here.

Recorded in London 11th October 2013.

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