Most of my collaborations have been a direct or indirect result of going to music conferences. I’m at the Taxi rally again in LA this year.
Just a few quick pieces of advice for anyone going to their first conference… or thinking about it:
Try all sizes of conferences. Go to tiny ones such as the FilmMusikTage for film music in Halle, Germany (about 40 people), small ones such as the Durango Songwriters’ Expo in Colorado (about 200 people), and large ones such as the Taxi rally in LA (several thousand people).
Bigger is not necessarily better; you get different things out of different sizes of conference. Small conferences targeted toward specific interests tend to help you create much stronger bonds with the other participants. And small conferences can often afford you much greater access to the speakers and panelists. Large conferences offer much wider networking opportunities and often many more sessions and educational opportunities, but the connections made there can be fleeting if not nurtured, just because there are so many of them.
Try different locations of conferences. Through a music conference in Germany in 2010, I met a German-based composer, who then was my key to meeting several other collaborators around the world. Get outside your geographic circle.
Go with the intention to make friendly connections, not to get things from people. It’s just the first rule of networking! It may be tempting to try to land some huge opportunity – a manager, a job, a connection, a song placement – but it’s not going to happen before the relationship is established. Just focus on relationships, good conversation, and listening to other people. Save the relentless self-promotion. Still… you do want to be able to promote when appropriate, so…
Bring light promo. Definitely bring business cards. And have your elevator pitch ready: what are you about, in ten seconds or less?
To CD or not to CD? In my opinion, you don’t really need to do a dedicated run of professional demo CDs these days, but if you recently released an album, bring it to pass out. If not, you might consider at least burning some CDs to give to those connections that look really promising. Download cards are even better: professional, but much less to carry.
Prep your website before you go. Have current samples of your music up on your website before you go.SoundCloud just released an HTML5 music player which DOES play on iPads and iPhones, so you might want to try that. Their previous Flash-based player was not accessible on i-Devices.
Here are some music conferences you might want to check out:
January: Cannes, France – MIDEM – I’ve heard this one is great, and huge. Haven’t been to it. Sounds very educational and focused on figuring out the new music model.
February: Durango Songwriters’ Expo winter conference, which in winter is not in Durango but near Santa Barbara, CA. Have heard great things about it from Taxi rally participants.
March: Austin, TX – SXSW – I learned recently there are also a few days dedicated to film music before all the craziness of live bands starts.
March: Miami, FL – Winter Music Festival – Haven’t been, but I’d sure like to go to Florida in winter, and this is a good excuse…
June: New Music Seminar, NYC
July: Kauai, Hawaii music festival / songwriter conference – Have heard great things about this one, too. Good people attending, and a small conference so that you can make good personal connections.
November: Los Angeles, CA – Taxi Rally – Very large but very fun. Tons of great seminars – hard to choose among the 10 different seminars always going on at the same time!
October: Nashville, TN – Tom Jackson singer/songwriter bootcamp – For live performers, not for those who are strictly recording artists or composers. Great stuff though.
(c) 2011 Adrienne Osborn