Demystifying Music Business Conferences and Showcases
Updated: Oct 2
Evan Murray's Blog
I'd like to unknot and simplify the important factors of Music Business Conferences and Showcases so that we can all share a uniformed idea of what's going on at these events.
I'm going to break this information down as accurately and honestly as possible, and give advice on how to have a successful Showcase experience. Take what you can from it, and make it work for your business.
A Showcase and Music Business Conference Music Festival should not be confused with a Music Festival. The latter - a Festival - is a series of artists playing to an audience of fans or potential fans for an entertainment experience. Whereas, a Showcase and Conference is a series of events. Industry professionals speaking in panel discussions to aspiring musicians for an educative and proactive experience. Live shows, and Networking opportunities.
Don't feel bad if you were confused about this, this still confuses Government funding agencies all over the world.
1. This is what comprises the typical Showcase Conference
A. Opening Party/Closing Party (Mixer)
This is where everyone gets the chance to be in one place and mingle. Sometimes there will be introductions or a welcoming ceremony by the hosts. There may be a few of these gatherings scheduled throughout the event.
Selected industry professionals - delegates - are assigned to discuss specific topics organized by the hosting conference coordinator. Typically, there are four or five from a spectrum of positions credibly poised to speak on the topic from their point of view and experience. A moderator will ask questions of his own and then field those from the audience. These sessions strive to cover a specific matter of interest, for example: How to Brand and Market Your Band or What is an Export Office, Women in the Business. etc.
The host city will dedicate venues generally near the conference site for previously selected, vetted and auditioned, artists to perform. There are usually many shows running simultaneously.
Personal note: It is important to mention that delegates are rarely required to attend any live performances though it is always the reasonable hope of the organizers and artists that music discovery motivates the industry professionals. This is why having great digital packaging and/or a manager can really give the aritst an upper edge for enticing Music Professionals to their shows.
D. Speed Meeting/Pitching/B2B
Music professionals - ranging from A&R to radio to management to music supervisors - are paired for a short select period of time to get to know each other, and than paired again with another Music professional after the time limit is up. It is the hope of organizer that many guests can get familiarized with each other for future business opportunities.
Conference goers - ranging from artists to management to publishers - get a predetermined amount of time to put their best foot forward in the hopes of getting advice, access or even a deal.
Some conference organizers have Music professionals join an online community where they can read about each other and arrange business meetings at the conference.
2. Plan for success.
The focus of every Artist/Artist Manager that attends Showcase and Conference events should be to obtain business contacts and opportunities. Here is a list of items to help you get the best experience possible.
- Make sure you are prepared to perform on stage, and sell in meetings.
- You are attempting to sell your Music Business in multiple ways to regional and international Music professionals.
Make sure your digital marketing is organized and up to snuff. Focus your energy on where you want to be and who you want to impress. Understand your own unique angle and make this very easy for people to interpret. Save the mystery for your artistic expression.
Your Live Music Perfomance is who you are. You must do your absolute best job possible on your live performance. Make it a entertainment experience.
Check out the venue the day before, meet the sound and light tech (make these guys your friends).
B. Keep your digital presence organized
This is your digital representation. YouTube, Fackbook artist page, Bandcamp, Soundcloud, Spotify etc. The only real content you want on your streaming pages is your music, music videos, live performances, contact information, small bio, and link to your website. On Youtube, create playlists to organize your materials and minimize all other content.
Keep the Music Professionals focused on what you want them to see.
EPK - Electronic Press Kit
Make it worthy. This is your story, this is your branding, this is the accumulation of what you are. Styliize and customize it. This is where we see who you are, what you look like, what you've done, and what you sound like. This is your identity. This is a condensed version of a Website. You can have this in print, on a Website for Download, in a PDF, and/or as a video presentation. This is the second most important thing you have besides your stage show. Spare no expense.
This is a condensed EPK into one Page. Condense everything that matters on the EPK to fit on one page. This is primarily digital as it should have active links.
All the special things you will need to perform. The more popular and more money you earn for each show, the more specific you can be about your equipment. When starting out, I would really advise being as modest as you can, and only mention things you actually really need to pull off a show.
This is a picture of a stage from the perspective as if you were looking down upon it. Draw in or label where everyone will be situated on stage, and where the equipment is. Drums, bass amp/DI (Direct In), guitar amp, pedals, vocal mics, monitors, and anything else that will be on stage. This is essential information for the techs to help you produce the best show possible.
This is your domain. Organize it well. Link your contact information, pictures, social media, streaming sites, interviews, videos, store, blogs, etc. Be creative, BUT... please, be organized.
3. Do Your Research
You have to know what Music Professionals are attending. Please do your homework on them.
Music Professional - Delegates have certain professional qualities you may or may not need. This will take some detective work. Some people's web presence isn't as prolific as others. Some Delegates bios are a bit confusing. Do your research. If you get the chance, ask others. Stay unbiased. Some people are the direct source you need, and some people are the best way to get to the direct source, and some people are both. Be cool. Be excellent. Be smart.
4. Consider Having Representation
If you are going to spend time, energy, and money you should logically want the best results humanly possible.
Honestly ask yourself these questions:
Are you kind of eccentric/socially awkward and disorganized? Are you shy or way to extroverted? Do you have a serious alcohol or drug addiction problem? Do you have social anxiety? Do you think you're the absolute best and deserve to be famous? Do you think you're not worthy of good feedback and admiration? Do you have strong social, political or religious views that you love to share?
If you answered yes to any of these questions please do yourself the favor and have someone represent you. Your relationships are everything to you when you are starting out. It takes time to understand, but you'll catch on. There are 2 types of people in the music business; Some people you really need to avoid, and some people you really need to connect with. This an entirely different art form; The Art of Communication. Don't be an ass kisser, but if you are, at least be genuine about it.
5. Who should attend a Music Business Conference and Showcase?
If you have read this far, probably you. If you skipped down to this part, probably you too.
Showcase Conferences are for anyone who has an interest in the Music Business.
Maybe you want to meet agents? Managers? Festival bookers? Tech gurus? Maybe you want to meet other musicians and trade ideas and contacts? Maybe you want to meet Journalists or Music Publishers? Producers or Engineers? Maybe you want to learn or pick up some tips to Produce and/or Engineer? Maybe you want to be an Artist Manager? Maybe you want to learn to make a pizza... whoops, wrong conference.
This is why you do your research on the guests attending, and all the information listed above.
Plan ahead. Focus your energy. Learn and share knowledge. Make friends. Have Fun.
6. How do I skip all this and get famous?
Money. Lots and lots of money. If you already have that, shoot me an email and we'll talk.
About Evan Murray
Evan is deeply passionate about Music Business education, and sharing insight and knowledge with government agencies and private companies around the world, from his own successful independent 20 year career. He’s been an international touring musician, booking agent, artist manager, and now federally funded music business conference, and showcase festival coordinator.
Here are some links to learn about Evan Murray's career.