9 Ways to Get the Most Out of Music Business Conferences


In preparation for our second trip to Sweetwater’s annual event, Gearfest, we are looking to advance our music business goals. We were thinking that what we learned last year might be beneficial to you as well. So, here are some tips to get the most out your music business conference experiences.

1. Do your research.

Before you decide on which conferences to attend, be sure that your goals line up with the information (workshops, panels, speakers) that is being disseminated is actually beneficial to your pursuits. (For instance, it’s not helpful to attend a gear-focused conference, if your main focus is figuring out how to get a record deal.)

2. Have a strategy.

Since you have already decided that this conference is going to be beneficial in some way, there is probably going to be some overlapping of sessions. Make sure you plan out which sessions are MUSTS. You are likely to get to the ones you think are most important, but just in case you cannot—because it’s too far away from your last location or started too late and overlapped into another session, where you CAN’—get there. Also, in the unlikely chance that that first session is not as stimulating as you’d thought, you can retreat to your second highest ranked workshop.

3. Be prepared.

If you are serious about your brand, eventually, you will be investing in your core products (your album; whether in vinyl, CD, or download). You should be able to point those who are potentially interested to your product quickly and easily. Or maybe you don’t have a product yet, but you have your music on a damn fine website. Be prepared to share that link on a drop card or through a QR code. (see Guerilla Marketing post)

4. Be friendly.

Strike up conversations with those around you. It goes without saying that you will make every effort to exchange information with anyone who you think can advance your overall agenda. Remember, one of your purposes is to establish meaningful relationships with industry allies, so make sure you take advantage of this opportunity. With that in mind: here are 2 surefire ways to advance this goal:

  1. Have your elevator speech memorized. (That one-minute speech about who you are, what, and why you do what you do will come in handy right about now.)

  2. Keep a pleasant expression on your face. Be approachable.

Tony Webb's Billow Red album t-shirt

5. Be noticed.

Since one of your biggest hurdles is that not enough of the right people know you, find ways to bolster your profile—indeed, your very existence—in the eyes of those who might be of value to your long-term game plan. Even if you don’t go up and shake hands, use your ability to be that Rockstar Billboard to pique people’s interest in what you have to offer. (Link forthcoming; eBook in the works, yo!) Easy ways to do this include:

  1. Ask questions at panels.

  2. Wear your band’s t-shirts.

  3. Remember this is your rockstar interview. (People look at you and decide if you have any new ideas. They also decide if they want to know about you from this critical first impression.)

6. Give gifts.

If you are well beyond just having an album and website, to take full advantage of those valuable connections you are making, you could give out business cards, or stickers, or pens; anything that will help keep you “top of mind,” as the marketers say, once the conference is over. You have a somewhat captive audience and you want to be sure that they think about you when it is time to make any “moves.”

You’ve heard the saying that a picture is worth a thousand words. Well, band photos REALLY are, since they determine if someone is going to say “Hell, yeah!” or “Hell, no!” to listening to your kick-ass music. Don’t forget to take heed to these important tips, in order to “get it right.” Check out this checklist of 15 valuable tips.

http://www.bloomingprejippie.com/betterbandphotos

7. Use social sharing.

Nowadays, the conference will provide a hashtag (or several), but just in case they don’t, take advantage of your ability to hashtag and tag posts as you see fit.

8. Use tech to help.

Again, even if you’re not a blogger, use your cell phone to capture names, email addresses, titles, projects, photos; as well as to post to social media throughout the conference. —I hate to tell you this, but your cell phone will be your best friend/assistant/lifesaver as you are zipping through the event. If you don’t capture details as you go, you will likely forget as the rush of the moment wears off. That has happened to me countless times, so I’ve learned to jot down as many notes as you can, so that you won’t have to rely on your memory once the adrenalin rush has fizzled.

Last year's Gearfest video.

9. Blog it.

Even if you aren’t a blogger, if you have a website, you are likely very capable of at least posting a photo or two of you with some industry leaders, or of an interesting panel along with a few takeaways from your favorite sessions. Take advantage of the opportunity to show that you’re serious about your goal of music business domination. —Oh, and don’t forget to tag your new music biz friends should you repost these photos on social media. (See item 7.)

We will be putting ALL these tips into practice this weekend. We hope to see you there.

If you have a tip that you think might be effective, please share. Drop it in the comments below.

As always, here’s wishing you love, peace, and chicken grease!

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