DIY Coachella: How to get your favourite bands to play in your hometown

Can't afford Coachella? The Duhks' Leonard Podolak lays out a five-step guide for enticing musicians to play in your town.

Leonard Podlak provides a step-by-step guide to help convince your favourite big-name act to visit your city

Elton John once performed in Peterborough, Ont. Could your hometown be next? (Paul A. Hebert/Invision/Associated Press)
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This weekend, Coachella is kickstarting the festival season with performances by everyone from Beyoncé to David Byrne and Portugal the Man.

But if you can't afford the plane ticket — or the $500 weekend pass — Leonard Podolak has another idea: Why not get your favourite acts to bring their show to you?

Podolak is a founding member of the band The Duhks and the executive producer of Home Routes, a non-profit organization that helps Canadians in smaller cities and towns organize gigs for touring musicians.

If you put it out there and you can show that you know what to do, there's a chance that it may just happen.- Leonard Podolak, executive producer, Home Routes

"There's a perception that if you're living in a rural community, and you're not on the stadium circuit or in the major markets, that a band just wont come to town," says Podolak.

"But the fact is that bands travel by the highway, and a lot of artists would be very happy to go to communities that they've just not been invited to before."

Here's his step-by-step guide to convincing your favourite big-name act to visit your hometown.


1. Rally the community

"First, start with the folks that are in your local circle that are like-minded, that like music, that like to dance, that like to bring people together.

If you want to do it as a private venture, those are folks that can help you raise money, because part of this is going to be having to send your favourite band a deposit.

So the first step is to gather a local team."

Making connections in the community is key if you want to attract talent to your town. (Home Routes)

2. Get organized

"In order to convince bands to come to town, you really have to show them that it's going to be a good experience.

And one great way to establish credibility is to establish a non-profit with a group of local stakeholders.

Once you've gotten the community base of volunteers and you've done a few shows, you can start to reach a little higher."

3. Find your venue

"In a lot of rural communities, it isn't like there's just a 10,000-[seat] or a 500-seat performing arts centre.

It could be the school gymnasium, the local legion, libraries — there's a lot of community halls and places that, if they were asked, would probably be very excited about it."

Podolak's organization, Home Routes, helps people in smaller Canadian communities organize house concerts for touring musicians. (Home Routes)

4. Sell your town

"From the artist's point of view, they want to work and make a living — and they also want their tours and their experiences on the road to be meaningful.

And when you go doing the same markets over and over again, staying in the same hotels, it's really nice to break it up and go into different communities, and to have different experiences and play in different kinds of venues.

And when you paint a picture to the booking agent that's positive and actually shows, 'Hey you know what? When this artist comes to town, they're going to have a meaningful experience,' chances are if they have the time, they will come and play."

5. Stay positive

"Number five is true grit and determination. If you don't ask, you don't get. If you put it out there and you can show that you know what to do, there's a chance that it may just happen."

The Barenaked Ladies.

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