I have been working with festivals throughout Canada for nearly 5 years now and set them all up with WordPress websites. I find it’s best to power the site with WordPress as much as possible. This includes the use of the WordPress user base to process submissions/applications from performers seeking to play the festival. To do this I have a few methods but the most simplified approach is done with the following three plugins;
1) Members List
Now if you’re running a festival with less than 25 artists to showcase then I would say use posts and don’t bother with a plugin or customizing profile fields. Kinda like how the Hamilton International Comedy Festival showcases it’s comedians. You can create a category tree for artists for each year or even genre and have an archive for all past festivals which is nice to have. Remember, artists often link to their profiles when they’ve been booked and it’s to your advantage to make sure none of those inbound links break ;)
If on the other hand you are running a festival that has hundreds of bands, I would recommend doing something like Canadian Music Fest where they have a Grid view with search and navigation to browse the artists. This means creating a WordPress user account for each band profile. You don’t have to give bands access, you would manage the account on their behalf. It also means that each band profile will be using the template author.php from your theme directory. If you don’t have one you will need to create one, you can reference the the WP codex for more details; http://codex.wordpress.org/Author_Templates
To do this I would use the Members List plugin to tile all the artists (users) the way that Canadian Music Fest does. The Members List plugin is integrated with a shortcode to a WordPress page. By default it will list all your “Members” (users/artists) in a list form similar to Google search results (seen here in the attached screenshot). You can tile them like a Grid view using CSS and the plugin has a user interface that allows me to define the fields that will be displayed on the List page (styled as a grid with css).
2) Edit Author Slug
This one is an easy one, it changes the author slug to whatever you want. This works perfectly with the Members List plugin. By default the url structure for each profile will be yoursite.com/author/username but with this plugin you can change the word “author” to something like “artists” or “comedians” or anything else you’d like. Just install the Edit Author Slug plugin and go to its settings and input whatever you like :)
3) User Photo
Now unfortunately WordPress doesn’t allow you to upload a custom user pic, it only detects your Avatar from another 3rd party service and if you haven’t assigned a user pic to your email address then it shows up as the blank mystery man. That said, the simplest plugin to use to enable such a feature is the User Photo plugin. It works very well with the Members List plugin, letting you define dimensions for a thumbnail (to be displayed in the Members List) and a full-size user pic (to be displayed on the user’s profile). There are other plugins out there like the Profile Builder which will let you add custom fields and profile photos etc. But I find the learning curve for that plugin and others like it to be rather challenging for the average user.
The idea here is to make use of the WordPress user-base (database) to showcase all of your performers. With that in mind, you could go one step further and integrate a registration plugin to process applications and payments. If done as a subscription you can effectively get all of last year’s applicants to apply again automatically by resubmitting the same profile. Although, in the context of a festival you will likely need a few additional fields to attach music or videos in addition to a bio. More on member registration plugins next week, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to post a comment!