How to take part in the Fête de la Musique: Misconceptions and Truths

The Fête de la Musique has been going on in Berlin for a number of years now, and if you’re close to it, it’s easy to get into the habit of assuming that everyone – meaning musicians and artistically active people who might want to take part in it – are equally clued in about the ins and outs of how (and why, and when) you can (and should) take part in what has become Berlin’s biggest open-air music event of the year. 

Which is why we decided to present here, as simply and straightforwardly as possible…

  • just what the point of the Fête de la Musique is, 
  • what you need to do if you’d like to perform on the day, and 
  • how to find a stage / venue to perform at.

And of course, WHY you should do that.

But first: one short paragraph to go over just what the Fête de la Musique – in some places around the world called Make Music Day, Music Day or World Music Day – is, how it started, and what it’s all about.

Photo by Charles Delos Reyes via

It was a sunny day (one assumes) in Paris when Jack Lang, the then-cultural secretary of that city looked out of his window and suddenly thought, “Mon Dieu!” (or something along those lines) when he heard the startling (as he thought at the time) fact that one in two young French people played an instrument of some kind or sang. But where were these people? 

The music everywhere and the concert nowhere

He turned for help to his recently appointed Director of Music and Dance at the French Ministry of Culture (quite a mouthful), one Maurice Fleuret. Monsieur Fleuret hit upon the concept of “the music everywhere and the concert nowhere”. Armed with this admirable sentence, M. Lang decided that every year on the 21st June – the summer equinox and with it the official beginning of summer – there should be music everywhere. That everyone who wished to and who had an instrument should come out onto the streets and play.

And so it came to pass. Since that year, the Fête de la Musique has taken place each summer, with the idea that there would be music to enjoy for free, on the streets and on the stages, this one day in the year, every year. The idea quickly grew beyond Paris and indeed beyond France. To the point that as of 2021 the day of music was being celebrated on every continent and in hundreds of countries. 

GEMA fees are paid by the Music Board

But back to how (and why) to take part in Berlin’s version of the event. Let us start with clearing up some common misconceptions.

Misconception No.1: The team commissioned by the Berlin Music Board to organise the Fête organises the venues / stages where you can play.

The Truth: The stages / venues are independently set up and run (some are street stages, many are bars/restaurants/etc) by whoever wants to run or set up a stage. To be part of the Fête’s official program they are required to register by 31 of March for outdoor stages and 30th of April for indoor stages. The Fête team helps with questions and to coordinate things (as well as to promote them), but it’s the venues that decide on who will play on their stage and how it will be organised. And two of the biggest advantages for a venue / stage being included in the official program are:

  •  that there is a special dispensation for being noisy (within reason) for all official stages (up until 10pm, which is also when the Fête itself ends). 
  • And also: The GEMA fees are paid by the Music Board, so that the venues don’t have that cost, while the musicians can still fill in a GEMA sheet for each gig.
Fete de la Musique for street musicians by jan-van-der-wolf
Poto by Jan Van Der Wolf via

It pays off (hugely) to be proactive

Misconception No. 2: It’s difficult to find a stage / venue to play at.

The Truth: Actually it’s surprisingly easy. The FêteBERLIN website ( hosts a “Matchmaking Tool” – where stages on the one hand and musicians/bands on the other, can register and find each other. NB: If you’re a musician wishing to perform, please don’t just sign up on the Matchmaking Tool and wait. It pays off (hugely) to be proactive: Check out the various venues you’ll find there, choose the ones you’d like to play at (you can play at as many as you can fit into the day), and write to them, telling them you’d like to play on their stage.*

*NB Venues have until the end of March to register, which means that as a musician you’ll only be able to find venues in the Matchmaking Tool AFTER the end of March!

Misconception No. 3: The Fête takes place on a different day each year.

The Truth: As mentioned above, in fact the Fête de la Musique takes place every year on the 21st June, which is the summer equinox and the official start of summer.

Photo by Gaho Chen via

This one’s a biggie

Misconception No. 4: (and this one’s a biggie) You are not allowed to make any money playing on this day.

The Truth: While it’s become customary that on this day no one is charged for attending a concert and for this reason the musicians also contribute their time and energy without a cash reward, each musician and stage can make up their own rules. 

And two more things to note:

  1.  If you’re a street musician in Berlin, then you’re no doubt used to being moved on by the boys (and girls) in blue on a regular basis. But on the 21st of June, things will be different. On this day, from 3pm to 10pm, you’re officially allowed to play anywhere in public – and put your hat out too. No boys in blue, no cat and mouse, just pure busking bliss…
  2. As we get closer to the date, there will be official posters available to download on the website, with blank spaces where you can fill in the name of the venue you’re playing and your artist name.

No boys in blue, no cat and mouse, just pure busking bliss…

Now we’ve got the Main Misconceptions and Things To Note out of the way, here’s how to find a venue to play at:

  1. Go to the website.
  2. Find the button that says “Matchmaking Tool”.
  3. Hit that mother.
  4. Fill in your details on the form that appears.
  5. Write in as much information as you can, on what genre you play, what your technical requirements are (to give the venue an idea of whether they can successfully host you or not) and so on.
  6. Confirm your email address in your email program.
  7. Now – this is where the important bit starts: go into the Matchmaking Tool that you now have access to on a regular basis, go through the venues and see which one(s) you’d like to play at, at contact them, send them a friendly reminder, etc.

Aaaand….that’s it.

Yup, it’s that easy.

And once you’re on the official program you can also tag all your music-related Insta reels with FETEBerlin and we’ll share you on our channel (and look out for the next blog article on how to get EVEN MORE social visibility boost with the FETEBerlin.

See you there!