*Guest post from Will Carpenter of Ships Have Sailed.
Music conferences can be incredibly valuable to an emerging artist, songwriter, producer, etc. but it’s also easy to overlook certain aspects of conferences and as a result to miss out on some of the value.
I can still remember the very first conference where we were invited to perform – we looked at it as a show without really knowing there was a whole conference with access to multiple days of panels, industry experts and mentorship sessions available to us. Sound naïve? Definitely.
In our case, we scrambled to do our research, figure out a schedule around the panels we wanted to attend and the people we wanted to talk to, and how to work all of that around our showcase schedule while still having time for meals and sleep.
That experience was impactful to me and I learned an important lesson: always do more research than you initially think is necessary and show up over-prepared. Never again have I looked at a showcase as ‘just a show’ and I always make an effort to review a conference and its schedule in advance in order to get the most out of the experience.
I strongly believe that good knowledge and experience is meant to be shared, so here are a few tips from lessons I’ve learned over the past few years of attending music conferences:
Do your research in advance
Get to know the conference organizers and the industry experts as much as you can virtually, and when you see them say hello. If you’re speaking to someone who organized the conference, they may have booked you…say thanks!
Smile and say hello to everyone you see
Whether you’re connecting with other artists, industry professionals or folks from the conference, chances are that everyone loves music, and everyone is open to meeting new people…take advantage of this – the music community is small, so take the opportunity to grow yours!
Plan your schedule carefully
These conferences are a marathon, and you want to optimize what you get out of them. Make sure you attend as many panels as you can, while still being on time for load-ins and soundchecks…go to the afterparties, but make sure you get good sleep. Make sure you eat to keep your energy up and stay hydrated!
Expect the unexpected
In our case, we were asked to play the Indie Week opening night party the day before we got on a plane from Los Angeles to Canada. It was not easy, but a little schedule shifting and collaboration allowed us to play a late set in front of a great audience excited to discover new music. It was a tight squeeze, but we were able to pull it off and it wound up being a great experience!
There’s nothing more important than staying in touch with the artists, conference organizers and industry professionals you meet. Do your best to connect online and/or get contact info from everyone you meet and follow up quickly afterward. If they ask you to send them music, be thoughtful about the number of tracks and which ones to submit. Folks are busy, but they do want to help, so try to allow them to do so while still respecting their time!
Thanks for reading and feel free to share your Music Conference experiences in the comments.
Keep up with more of the Ships Have Sailed musical journey HERE.