Traversing the motorways, performing to a converted fanbase is one thing; but the big money is at festivals. Whether it's in a muddy field or at a hipster-curated city event, the opportunity to connect with a far larger audience now attracts an all-inclusive medley of popular household names, veterans on the comeback trail and up-and-coming artists trying to make their mark.
With a so-called "festival season" in place, every possible taste and peer-group is catered for. Whereas once there was the choice of three festivals – Glastonbury, Reading or Womad – offering up a fairly limited range of artists to fans who didn't mind getting dirty, now there is a spectrum of choices, from vast corporate events to smaller "boutique" weekends.
A throwback to the late 1960s, the fervour of the communal festival spirit and its cultural impact is something not even the back-to-basics "punk rock wars" and cynicism of the late 1970s could bring to a halt. Both promoters and ticket-buyers see the significance of grouping together more established acts and undiscovered gems under one tarpaulin. It can be a one-stop shop for less active gig-goers who want to see a spread of what is happening at large on the current music scene, without the inconvenience of having to attend a sweaty club on a random Tuesday night.
There are negatives, of course. In my eyes, a festival experience rarely replicates the feeling of being up close and personal in a specially built space, with a state-of-the-art sound system. Some artists need the intimacy of a club or concert hall to connect with an audience. Simply put, not all musicians are comfortable or skilled at communicating with a field of thousands waving lighters and mobile phones.
Scotland, however, has embraced the trend with open arms. At one time, pre T in the Park, there was nothing to compete with what was on offer south of the Border. Now there seems to be very little point in venturing elsewhere. Up here there's a full summer calendar for the sonically adventurous audiophile to tuck into. What especially pleases me is the range of opportunities and platforms for younger, grassroots artists. T in the Park (July 6-8) has to be thanked for that initial kick-start. While almost all festivals now incorporate a "new band" tent on their bills, the T Break initiative was the first and blazed a trail.
As RockNess comes to a close this weekend on the banks of Loch Ness, it's encouraging to have seen breakthrough acts like Admiral Fallow, Errors and the Lucky Me Collective added to various stages in among more weighty and world-weary names. Scotland's second largest outdoor summer event arrives hot on the heels of the industry showcase goNorth, where a large contingent of unsigned acts from Scotland and elsewhere play their hearts out across the bars, clubs and pubs of Inverness for free. A different kind of platform for music perhaps, goNorth, as well as Glasgow's Stag & Dagger, allows listeners to hop from venue to venue using a wristband for quick entry.
If the sheer magnitude or hormonal exuberance of T in the Park and RockNess fill you with dread, fear not. Mid-sized festivals are suited perfectly to families and even those with epicurean foodie tastes. They can open you up to a world of new music into the bargain. At the annual Belladrum Tartan Heart Festival in Beauly this year (August 3 & 4), you can watch sets by Frightened Rabbit, Rachel Sermanni and Fatherson alongside rock favourites and traditional music while slurping down an oyster or chomping on some organic venison.
The longstanding Wickerman weekender in Dumfries (July 20 & 21) also has the excellent Solus tent, exclusively booking the cream of Scotland's emerging music scene. Expect stand-out performances from Human Don't Be Angry, United Fruit, Beerjacket and The Machine Room amongst others. Even their main Summerisle stage plays host to Bwani Junction and Finding Albert next to various chart-toppers. If all these names baffle you, let me reassure you that they may provide some of your very finest live moments of the summer.
Maybe it's age or agoraphobia, but as time goes on I tend to prefer the more bijou and cosier celebrations. Fence Records got in there early this year with the frankly astonishing Eye O' The Dug spectacular in St Andrews, and look to up the ante even further with their second Away Game on the Isle of Eigg (July 20-22). The bearded (and ever-so-slightly contrary) East Neuk collective are slowly but surely carving out a niche in off-kilter, bespoke weekends with an eclectic booking policy and a carnival atmosphere.
And there's more ... Next weekend, Aviemore hosts the innovative Insider festival (June 15-17), once again promoting three days of fun and frolics with an Olympiad fancy dress theme and an astonishing cross-section of firebrands including The Phantom Band, Optimo Espacio and Meursault under its big top. This has grown in stature and reputation with crowds and bands alike, while also remaining independent.
Likewise with Doune The Rabbit Hole in the Carron Valley (August 24-26), Solas in Biggar (June 22-24), and Hebridian Celtic Festival in Stornoway (July 11-14) – now you can happily travel the length and breadth of Scotland while involving yourself in some genuinely outstanding music. Investigate online and cast your eye across their diverse line-ups. You'll have the good fortune to witness acts such as King Creosote, Bill Wells & Aidan Moffat, Washington Irving, Roddy Woomble and The Waterboys entertain discerning but passionate crowds who shy away from the mainstream.
As the craft beer and cider revolution gathers apace, last month's Brew At The Bog outside Inverness and the upcoming Thistly Fest in East Lothian (July 28) have managed to tastefully blend groundbreaking music with contemporary and progressive, locally-sourced beverages. And if you actually make it to the end of the summer in one piece, then there's always one last gasp in Ullapool to contend with. Now legendary for its location, character and ambience, Loopallu (September 22 & 22) is a knees-up beyond comparison that brings people from across the UK and further afield to relish satisfying seafood, wild winds and wicked whisky, making for a party like no other.
Muddy boots, portable toilets and rattled eardrums aside, all these festivals further establish Scotland on the cultural map at home and abroad. They act both as a veritable helping hand to Scotland's rising stars, and allow the audience to journey to some of the country's most beautiful locations in the process. That sounds like fun to me.
Vic Galloway presents on BBC Radio Scotland at 8.05-10pm on Mondays (repeated Fridays 10pm–midnight). He hosts a monthly night at Electric Circus, Edinburgh; the next is Wednesday, June 21 with live music from Discopolis, Deadboy Robotics, Die Hard and Shark Week. Check www.vicgalloway.com for more info