English Folk Expo are delighted to launch an open call for artists to take part in our new Showcase programme. As the global music industry reboots in 2021 we want to make sure the best in English folk, roots and acoustic music is supported and showcased.

We are looking for 15 artists (including bands) based in England with a strong existing domestic audience.

Selected bands / artists will perform a headline concert in one of 5 music venues across England during Spring / Summer 2021.

Depending on social distancing restrictions, these gigs will be in front of a live, in person audience. In addition, they will be streamed to an online ticket buying audience.

Following the gig, the recording will be made into a 15 minute ‘virtual showcase’ featuring two or three of the live tracks and a short interview with the band. These virtual showcases will become part of a May to September programme of Virtual Showcases to an audience of music industry delegates. We are delighted to be working with Northern Cowboys Films on this project. Northern Cowboys have been working in the live music industry for more than 5 years with expertise in capturing live performance for both industry and public audience.

We hope to replicate the success of our live Showcase activity (which takes place annually, each October in Manchester) in terms of generating work for the showcasing artists and their teams through bookings, collaborations, signings and other work.

In addition, the full recording of the live concert will be given to the performers for their own unrestricted future use.

The detail

Before making an application to this open call, we strongly advise reading this section carefully. If you have any further questions, please get in touch directly with us.

What is a virtual showcase?

The pandemic has created a need to develop lots of new ways of working in all areas, and showcasing is no different. We think that a good way to replace live showcasing is to create short sets (c15mins) involving live performances and interviews with musicians. We piloted this as part of our Artist Mentoring Programme and are in the process of creating 5 ‘virtual showcase’ videos as part of this programme. One of these, from the fantastic Katy Rose Bennett, is linked below with her permission. We will create 15 similar videos from this project, the main difference being that these videos will be taken as part of a larger live set, hopefully in front of a live audience.

See Katy Rose Bennett’s virtual showcase video here:

Who will see the virtual showcases and how?

Showcases are essentially marketplaces to present fantastic artists to people who can work with them. The English Folk Expo Showcase runs alongside Manchester Folk Festival each October with up to 180 invited music industry delegates watching approximately 50 artists perform over three days. This normally takes the form of delegates moving between live concerts, watching around 15mins of a set to get a feel for the band and whether there is an opportunity for future engagement. Economic impact studies from this event suggests approximately £2million of work is generated each year as a result of this one event.

As a result of this work, we (EFEx) have built a strong contact list of promoters, festivals, labels, agents, managers, publishers, music supervisors and more across the UK and all over the world. Many of these music industry representatives are now in a position to look to the future of their sectors as we (hopefully) move beyond the pandemic.

To this end, we want to present a range of incredible music to them with a potential for those performers to gain new opportunities either through gig bookings, signings or other work.

These videos will be collated and shared with music industry contacts via direct mailers and online networks. We also intend to run a series of Virtual Showcase screenings to invited audiences of online delegates, introducing them to the artists and their teams and providing a space for conversation, networking and collaboration. This means that these videos can be viewed by music industry both at dedicated online networking events and also in their own time.

We will build a dedicated platform to host these virtual showcases.

Working with our regular evaluation partners, the hub, we will also follow up with delegates as to the success of these showcases so that we can continually learn about the best way to present music to decision makers.

When and where are the live gigs?

The live gigs at which the virtual showcases will be filmed will be as follows:

Cecil Sharp House, London
Thurs 8th April 2021
Fri 9th April 2021
Sat 10th April 2021

The Corn Hall, Diss (part of the Norfolk and Norwich Festival)
Thurs 20th May 2021
Fri 21st May 2021
Sat 22nd May 2021

St Marys, Rochdale (part of the Rochdale Folk Festival)
Fri 4th June 2021
Sat 5th June 2021 (matinee)
Sat 5th June 2021 (evening)

Phoenix, Exeter
Wed 21st July 2021
Thurs 22nd July 2021
Fri 23rd July 2021

Queens Hall, Hexham
Wed 11th August 2021
Thurs 12th August 2021
Fri 13th August 2021

As part of the open call, applicants should select their nearest venue geographically to reduce travel requirements. In making an application you confirm that you are holding the relevant dates in your diary and are available on those dates if selected. We will contact all applicants by 1st March 2021.

Is there a fee for this work?

There is a fee for the gigs of £500 vs 80% after VAT, PRS and costs of £500

This percentage is inclusive of all live and online sales combined.

Online ticket prices will be £12. Live ticket prices will be in the region of £14-£18

Below is an example of the deal based on 100 live and 200 online ticket sales. Of course, each concert will have different sales figures and so this should be treated as an example only.

Artist deal terms & conditions:

  • Fee – £500 vs 80% after VAT, PRS and fixed costs of £500
  • Artist to perform a single headline concert performance for a live and online audience
  • Artist to provide own accommodation and travel costs
  • EFEx to provide venue, PA, film crew, limited catering, promotion, show rep
  • Event will have a live audience where permitted and will also be live streamed with online shows available to be watched for up to one week after original broadcast
  • There will be no maximum capacity on streamed shows and no geo-fencing
  • Artist will record a short interview pre-show with the film crew
  • This will be edited into a 15minute ‘virtual showcase’ which will be shared with music industry networks
  • Artist owns all footage and audio and can use in whatever way they deem appropriate
  • Where possible, when footage and/or audio is used in the public domain Artist will credit English Folk Expo.
  • English Folk Expo retain the right to use footage and/or audio but will not directly monetise it beyond the initial livestreamed show
  • Exclusivity: artists commit to no public live streamed shows 3 weeks either side of the event date

How will the gigs be promoted?

We want the gigs themselves to reach the largest audience possible both in person subject to covid secure requirements, and online via live stream.

The individual shows will be promoted by both EFEx and the host venue or festival. We will work with local venue marketing teams to reach their existing audiences. In addition, we will commission Greenwoodside to deliver a comprehensive online marketing strategy for all shows, with generous associated show marketing budgets. These will be featured on all EFEx social media platforms, to EFEx Digital subscribers (including their associated discount opportunities) and in other EFEx correspondence including existing Manchester Folk Festival audiences. We would also ask performers to promote these events to their own fans via mailing list, websites and social media to maximise reach.

What is the timeline for the open call?

Call opens – Monday 1st February

Call closes – Sunday 21st February

Applicants informed of outcome – Monday 1st March

What information is required in the open call?

  • Performer Name
  • 3x links to music (including at least one live video)
  • List of venues performed on most recent live tour
  • Information about existing UK audience reach
  • Booking contact details
  • Online links
  • 100 word bio
  • Link to high res image
  • Tech spec
  • Indication as to date / venue preferences
  • Confirmation of lineup
  • Confirmation that requested dates will be held by performers until 1st March 2021
  • Confirmation of terms & conditions being acceptable if selected
  • Equal opportunities monitoring information

How will artists be selected?

Artists will be selected by the English Folk Expo team with final decision resting with the Artistic Director, in line with the EFEx Artistic Selection Policy

For this open call we are seeking artists who already have an established UK audience. Please note, this is not a programme for new or emerging artists. Sign up to our mailing list to keep up to date with all of our programmes and opportunities which are suitable for artists at a range of career stages.


This programme is supported by an Arts Council England National Activities Project Grant.


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