music conferences

Making the most of music conferences

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The music business is constantly changing and evolving. Music conferences offer an insider’s view on important trends, emerging technology, and who’s who in the music business.

There are numerous music conferences and seminars held across the United States each year. These events offer the opportunity to learn more about the music industry while marketing your project to industry executives and fans, all under the same roof. You must remember that the music business is all about people and personal relationships. Attending a music conference allows you to meet top music industry representatives and personally give them your music. Some of the relationships you build at these events will last for many years.

Most conferences are non-stop action, so well before the event starts, create a plan of which events you want to attend and which speakers you would like to meet and network with. Here are some key pointers to help you get the most out of attending music conferences and educational seminars.

1. Formulate a game plan

Review the conference’s agenda online and choose which panels and lectures you plan on attending each day. Read the bios of each panelist on the conference’s website. That may help you determine the lectures to attend based on your areas of interest. You may even consider sending an email to select speakers to introduce yourself. Let them know you admire their work and look forward to hearing their presentation. Be sure to personally introduce yourself after their panel or presentation ends.

With so many sessions, how do you choose which ones to attend? My method is a simple two-question test. Will I learn something new about a topic that is important to me? Will I meet someone who could help my career? If the answers are both yes, then that’s a lecture I want to attend.

2. Pack plenty of business cards and CDs

You never know how many executives you’re going to meet. While most people focus 100% on meeting new people who could help their career, don’t neglect your preexisting contacts. Be sure to make time to say hello to the booking agent or local radio personality you’ve known for years.

3. Split up.

If you attend a music conference with a few of your bandmates, split up and attend several different sessions, as that will be more helpful to your group. Take good notes and once you return home, each member can share what they’ve learned and whom they’ve met during their solo mission.

4. Don’t be afraid to raise your hand and ask a question

Odds are, many other attendees have the same question you do, but they’re too shy to ask. Speakers appreciate an engaged audience, so ask away! Speaking of being engaged… don’t spend every free moment with your face buried in your phone. Look around the room, make eye contact, talk to other attendees or to a speaker who’s hanging around the lecture hall. Make the most out of this valuable opportunity.

5. Don’t miss your opportunity

The most common mistake I see musicians making at music conferences is not taking the daytime educational events seriously. Some artists don’t even bother attending the seminars, workshops and mentoring sessions. For those artists, the whole focus is on their showcase performance. While it’s wonderful to have that gig opportunity – and you should embrace it – make sure you remember to get the most you can out of the conference and don’t ignore the morning and afternoon educational events. Partying all night after the show and sleeping in your hotel room all day is not doing your career much good.

6. Follow Up

Once you get home, wait a day or two and start following up with everyone you met at the conference. Determine if there are any ways you can do business with some of your newly minted contacts.

I encourage you to attend music conferences and educational seminars whenever possible. The music business is constantly changing and evolving. It’s important for you to keep up on important trends, new marketing techniques, emerging technology, and to find out who the top executives are.

When you get to the event, do your best to make the most out of this wonderful opportunity for your career. It’s one of the rare times that artists, industry executives, media reps, corporate sponsors, and fans are all under the same roof and everyone is eager to network and learn.

Good luck in your quest for new contacts and knowledge!

Eugene Foley is the president of Foley Entertainment, a music biz consulting firm and licensed entertainment agency. Foley represents songwriters, artists, labels, managers, producers, and other industry participants. His clients have earned nearly 40 Gold and Platinum records and three GRAMMY® Awards. He’s a frequent guest on television and radio and lectures extensively on artist development, marketing, music publishing, and intellectual property. Foley offers a free music and career evaluation to all unsigned artists.

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