Your Band Could Perform at the Boston Calling Music Festival This Fall

Boston Calling co-founder Mike Snow shares the details about a new contest for two open slots in September's lineup.



Round two of Boston Calling will be even more open to the public than the first.

Crash Line Productions, the team behind the city’s new staple music festival, is collaborating with Sonicbids, a local platform that connects bands with venues, to hold a contest for two open slots in the September event’s lineup.

“We did the first festival here and we had booked it out, but there was a lot of public decrying about more opportunities for bands around Boston since it’s such a vibrant music scene,” said Mike Snow, a cofounder of Crash Line.

Since the first festival was such a success, Snow and his team decided to provide such an opportunity for bands the second time around.

Sonicbids, which has previously worked with promoters such as CMJ Music Marathon, Bonnaroo, and South by Southwest, seemed like a natural partner.

“When I was a kid growing up, you actually had to call the club and find a booking agent and all that stuff. They’ve basically cut that process out,” said Snow. “For years, they’ve partnered with festivals around the country to offer opening slots to local bands and nationally touring bands who don’t have record deals, and they have quite a list of success stories.”

For a chance to play Boston Calling, bands have to register with Sonicbids—the sign-up is free—create a profile and an electronic press kit, and submit their music to the Boston Calling contest. From there, Snow and his team at Crash Line will review all the bands and pick the winners, who will each receive a $500 cash prize from Sonicbids in addition to their slot at Boston Calling.

The contest has been promoted both on Boston Calling’s website and social media, as well as through Sonicbids’ relationship with Billboard magazine and its vast personal database.

But while they’re opening the contest to anyone, Snow and his team are leaving the public out of the decision-making.

“We just don’t have the ramp-up time to have a public voting process and we also want to keep it fair and not make it a popularity contest,” he said. “A lot of bands don’t like having the public have an opinion and a lot of bands do, so it’s kind of a rhetorical argument that I don’t think there’s a right answer to.”

The lineup for Boston Calling features a variety of genres—September artists range from indie rockers Vampire Weekend and Local Natives to electronic DJ Major Lazer to rapper Kendrick Lamar. Likewise, this contest is open to submissions of any genre.

“We get to go through everything and just pick the band that we think is the best-sounding band. It’s a little bit subjective, but it won’t be someone who doesn’t fit with the entire theme of the event or the theme of the day,” said Snow. “It’s a wide range. Thankfully, the people who are coming to our festival and the two-day ticket purchasers clearly have a wide range of musical likes, so we’re going to keep an open mind and just pick someone that we really enjoy the sound of. It’s a good chance to objectively listen to some music.”

While they haven’t started sorting through the submissions, Snow says they have received around 300 so far. The winners will be announced on the Boston Calling website and its social media on August 20th, giving the winners about three weeks to make arrangements and prepare for the festival.

“If you submit, you have to make sure your calendar is free,” said Snow jokingly.

And if all goes well, Crash Line is more than willing to continue the contest into the future.

“Our intent as a company is to do the festival twice a year at City Hall Plaza in May and September every year. This [contest] is sort of a trial run,” said Snow. “Sonicbids is well-versed in doing this all around the country already, so it’s a matter of seeing how the public here reacts to it and what the bands think about it. We’re expanding for the second festival to check it out and see how it goes.”

Submissions can be entered here and are due by August 15.