WORDS BY : JOSH ABRAHAM

“It is the most life-affirming experience, to see your favorite performer on stage, in the flesh” is how Dave Grohl describes the live music experience and most of us can agree with this ideology.  However, it’s even more of an experience finding new music alongside new bands to follow and watch them grow, which is where The Great Escape Festival comes in.

Back in 2006 this festival became a lightning rod for discovering new talent, from Adele playing to eighty people in a cafe to Brighton-based Black Honey gaining all the right first impressions that they needed to become the band they are today.  What makes the discovery of new talent so infectious at this festival is that people want to see new music from the moment they wake up, to the moment they go to sleep.     

IMAGE CREDIT : NOTION ONLINE

Great Escape shows just how passionate people can be about music but also how they support the local economy.  

A case and point of that is when Sigrid has played the festival, where she mentions “It’s one of the most important festivals for new artists.” and how the festival is known for the new discovery of artists “The Great Escape is something we’ve talked about in Norway for years; this is a big deal over there in Norway as well.” 

The first lesson in how the festival has changed the course of new music is simple – it’s self-aware. The co-founder, Martin Elbourne, has always talked about being aware of making it too big and won’t get lost in the mix.  The self-awareness is also down to knowing their audience and what they want, people who come to Great Escape know there is going to be some good music.

The Brighton-based festival is also silently a networking event, where the music industry will take time out of their busy schedules to spend three days watching the newest entries into our industry, explore the city as well as have fun in the process.  There aren’t too many showcase festivals on this level other than SXSW, but Great Escape shows just how passionate people can be about music but also how they support the local economy.  

THe festival isn’t just a U.K festival anymore, the reputation has become so large that artists will travel specifically to be on the lineup

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Festivals are usually a couple of days of green fields with private and public areas, what Great Escape does perfectly is show off the best of Brighton.  The performances are in local venues, where you can watch an awesome band play and then go for the best fish and chips in the area to then chilling on the beach as the waves go by, there is nothing better than that.  

The second lesson is that the festival isn’t just a U.K festival anymore, the reputation has become so large that artists will travel specifically to be on the lineup or even just to find new artists to follow.  

Swedish singer-songwriter, Skott, who played the festival in 2017, explained that “People come here for the new aspiring artists” and “That’s the main purpose, and it’s not a festival (where you only) watch your favourite bands, it’s to find new ones”.  Which is why this festival is a game changer for the music industry.

IMAGE CREDIT : NOTION ONLINE

The festival proves again and again how important it is to the music culture by giving artists and bands the opportunity that others may not

One thing to note is that because the industry is attending the festival, artists will travel to even find management, agents or publishers to extend their stay in the music world, which just goes to show the value of the festival.  Ghanaian-born, but Glasgow based rapper Kobi Onyame, applied to play at the festival last year and explained that “My goal is to secure a publisher and agent. TGE is great as it puts me in front of those people in what I feel is my strongest form of expression – my live show!”.

The festival proves again and again how important it is to the music culture by giving artists and bands the opportunity that others may not.  It pushes aside the normal traditions of a music festival and becomes its own thing.  Companies jump in as soon as they can to have a partnership deal or a stage so they can be a part of the ever-changing music industry.

In conclusion, the festival has brought back the reason why we love going to gigs and festivals in the first place.  It’s great seeing your favourite bands at other festivals, but yet Great Escape brings back the romance to the music industry.  The feeling of entering a venue, not knowing anyone or the band playing and then leaving with new friends and new music to listen to is something to admire about this experience.  Whether you’re an unsigned artist looking for a team or a music lover, this festival will never disappoint.  

The Great Escape will be back next year between 12th – 15th May 2021.

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