Dublin: 6 °C Saturday 4 February, 2023
# Criticism
Festival cancels unsigned artists stage over “negative publicity”
The Actbacker stage was aimed at new bands.

A FESTIVAL IN Killarney has cancelled a stage for unsigned artists after “negative publicity”.

Musicians had criticised the planned stage for emerging talent at the Killarney Food and Music festival, questioning why bands were encouraged to help sell tickets to get a good place on the bill.

The festival has now said it has reluctantly made the decision not to go ahead with the particular stage at the event, due to the negative publicity.

Actbacker Stage

The Actbacker Stage was aimed at unsigned acts who want to play at the Killarney festival. Headliners at the festival include Jools Holland, Texas, and Burt Bacharach.

A statement from the festival this afternoon said:

Killarney Festival of Music & Food had planned to create a brand new stage for emerging Irish talent.  The promoters wanted to create the stage in response to the hundreds of requests that we receive each year from relatively unknown acts who wish to play at the festival.In the past, we have only been able to accommodate a handful of unknown bands early in the day as festival openers, however this year we wanted to fill a stage for a two full days with musicians playing up to 11pm at night.We were planning to create a platform to promote new acts and accommodate up to 18 new bands over the weekend.We wanted the Emerging Artists stage to be a highlight of the festival however due to the significant costs associated with creating a well-produced stage for new talent including a marquee, sound, lighting, generators, barriers, stage management, security the promoters can’t afford to create a stage and cover these costs for bands who have little or no track record.We would be delighted if a sponsor would come on board to cover the costs of the stage, then we wouldn’t have to go down the crowd funding route.Contrary to misleading comments circulating through social media, we were not asking bands to ‘pay to play’.Bands and musicians who play would be paid a good fee (more than they would receive at any other festival), receive promotion through the festivals website and be included on festival merchandise and in an extensive marketing campaign while getting the opportunity to play alongside world class acts including Burt Bacharach, Jools Holland, TEXAS and many more to be announced.Bands were being asked to do a little bit of work to earn their slot and if they were performing at their own gig they would have to do the same.  All the bands had to do was reach out to their fanbase and seek their support and their fans would get a full day ticket for the festival in return.  Bands were not been asked to ‘pay to play’.Crowd funding sites including Fundit, Indigogo, Kickstarter and PledgeMusic are already widely used by many Irish bands and musicians to raise funds to produce singles and albums so there is no reason why they can’t help launch musicians careers by helping fund, profile building, live performances.Due to the ongoing negative reaction as a result of incorrect reporting, Killarney Festival has made the reluctant decision not to go ahead with this stage at this time.We have always supported and booked Irish talent and so far over 85% of the line-up is made up of Irish bands and musicians and we will continue to support Irish talent as much as possible.

It was planned that unsigned acts that were selected to play on the Actbacker stage had to sell at least 50 tickets, and the more tickets they sold, the higher up they would place on the festival bill.

The full amount raised by each act would be split 70/30, with 30% going to the band, after Ticketmaster fees and commission were taken out.

In an email sent to one band, which was seen by, the reply stated

Thanks you for your interest in playing at this year’s Killarney Festival of Music & Food. The Actbacker, emerging talent stage is a brand new initiative which allows us to offer a platform to allow you get you music into the public domain, raise your profile and have an all-round great festival experience and get PAID for doing it. The stage is open to 9 acts per day (18 total). The chosen acts will be selected upon review of several criteria.These selected acts, in order to qualify will need to sell a minimum of 50 day tickets to friends, family and fans. The acts will not be limited to selling 50 tickets and the more you sell the higher you will appear on the bill, the acts selling the most will headline.In order to track ticket sales you will be required to set up a project on “fund it” (details will be provided).There will be a six week window to allow for ticket sales. Once the project deadline closes you will be provided with the quantity of tickets to distribute.The full amount raised per act will be split 70% / 30% (festival / act), after deduction of Ticketmaster commission and Vat. The 70% retained by the Festival will cover the costs for the stage to include staging, sound, lights, insurance etc.Please note the deadlines for the application and qualifying process:1) Application process closing date: Friday Feb 16th.2) Qualifying bands will be notified by Friday Feb 18th,3) Fundit project application and set up (bands & Fundit) begin Feb 19th live March 12th (fundit need 3 weeks to ensure all is done correctly and to load all projects so they go live together).4) Fundit project close date April 24th.

Musician Shane Serrano, drummer with Fox Jaw, told that the band are in the midst of contacting festivals in the lead-up to the summer.

He said that this was the first time he had encountered this situation. “When I got this reply email back from the festival bookers, I just had to read it a few times to really get what they were “offering” bands,” he commented.

I just felt the general public needed to know, and more importantly young bands who might fall for this, needed to know.I have nothing against this festival or its promoters, and we would gladly play it, if they’d have us, but unfortunately not under these circumstances.

Musician Fiach Moriarty told that he received a copy of the email from a friend, and posted it on his Facebook page for others to see.

“I thought I’d throw this up it needs to be read by a few people,” he said. “I didn’t expect it to take off how it has.”

He indicated he was concerned about the fact bands could be placed higher on the bill depending on how many tickets they sold.

“Everyone is just outraged,” he commented. “The festival is being sold on the talents of musicians so the organisers should do what their job description is, which is to organise.”

The Actbacker stage received many negative comments on the festival’s official Facebook site

killarney-facebook-pg-409x500 Facebook Facebook

- Aoife Barry

Originally published on

Why aren’t all musicians getting paid for playing at Irish festivals this summer?>

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