Edinburgh

The Fringe and a slew of summer festivals light up the area with music, comedy, theatre and a creative vibe unparalleled in the world

9 Tips to Fringe First-Timers from Acoustic Music Centre

Founded by John Barrow, the Acoustic Music Centre operates during the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and showcases roots/acoustic/Celtic music at St Bride’s near Haymarket.

Barrow produced his first Fringe show in 1968. After running a first version of the Acoustic Music Centre from 1982 until 1995, he started collaborating with St Bride’s in 2005. Now in its 12th year, the Acoustic Music Centre features primarily music, but branched into dance, drama and political comedy.

Over the years, St Bride’s has proven to be the perfect home, thanks to its attractive setup and two theaters—a 50 seater and a 250 seater, accompanied by a hospitality space with a restaurant and bar.

Year after year, the Acoustic Music Centre garners Fringe Sell-Out Laurels. To receive the Sell-Out Laurel, a performance must be at least 95% sold out.

Every August, 60 to 70 companies from across the globe come to perform, putting on an average of 120-130 performances. Many return year after year. The large stage, which is a rarity for most Fringe venues has allowed Barrow to program rather large groups such as the Beijing Dongcheng Children’s Art Troupe that brings a group of 30 children onstage.

Check out what’s going on at the Acoustic Music Center 2016.

John Barrow, program director at the Acoustic Music Centre and Nigel Duncan, freelance journalist in charge of the PR at the Acoustic Music Centre, have worked the Fringe for many years.

Nine tips to first-time Fringe performers and event organizers:


1. If you have never been to the Fringe before, come and have a look around the first year, get a feel of what goes on before making the big jump.

2. Know what you are getting into and budget accordingly. Knowledge is everything.

3. Set the right ticket price. Ticket price is not going to cover all of your expenses. You will need independent finance to help sustain your project.

4. Include in your budget: production costs (logistics, show), but make sure to also include a marketing budget. Competition is fierce. How will you market your show: print leaflets? How will they be distributed? Who will run your social media? PR exercise is multi-faceted.

5. You have to be smooth, sophisticated and structured to make your PR and marketing strategy stand out. After all 3,200 companies performed last year. There are no restrictions on who can perform.

6. Expect lots of enthusiasm and friendships, but also an overwhelming experience in terms of scale and crowds.

7. Sell yourself, even if you are well-known in your region.


8. Newspapers don’t cover the shows as they used to. Critics are few and far-between. It is tough to get them to cover your show.

9. In the end remember, “you do it because you want to do it, to bear witness to your art form.”

Get ready for the experience of a lifetime.