Tips for Attending Music Conferences

Music conferences are always a great way to not only meet new people, stay up to the latest, but it also helps in solidifying existing relationships as well.

When you attend music conferences like ADE, SXSW, LAMC, and EDMBiz etc., you should always try to develop relationships and network as much as possible. You may not be able to develop a working relationship immediately while you are there, but meeting and putting your face out there is a sure-fire way to getting people to remember you, potentially laying the framework for a future business opportunity.

We at Symphonic have been fortunate enough to be able to attend several music conferences, including ADE, SXSW, LAMC, and EDMBiz. During these experiences, we’ve seen a lot of rookie mistakes made by people attempting to network.

Here are a few tips you should follow at conferences when trying to build relationships with people in the music industry.

Plan in advance
You need to do your research before you set foot on a train or plane to get to an event. Most conferences have great websites that list the events, panels, recommendations for traveling to the city where conference is held and even attendee directories. Use these to your advantage. Don’t be afraid to reach out to other attendees and coordinate meetings. While you’re there make sure to enhance and update your profile. Profiles that are completed tend to get more meeting requests and activity than ones that are incomplete.

Go to panels
As a musician and also entrepreneur, it’s important to stay up to date with the latest in the industry and learn more about it. Panels are filled with music industry experts that have a lot of valuable information to share. Try to dedicate a few hours of your day to these. Not only will you be getting some great knowledge, but also you will be able to network. You could potentially be sitting next to a solid artist or executive that can help guide you and your brand! So don’t skip the panels and remember to take notes.

Also, try your absolute best to arrive 15 to 30 minutes early. Panels can sometimes get packed and lines are inevitable, so arriving a few minutes early can guarantee that you will get a spot. If you do happen to get stuck in a line, chat with people around you. It’s a great way to kill time, get to know folks, and potentially strike some sort of impromptu relationship. This is networking at it’s finest.

Support the Music
This one should be a no-brainer for anyone attending a music-based conference. Check out the bands and dj sets at local venues to support your peers. Even if you are trying to strike a serious business deal with someone, it’s ok to sit back and have a casual drink with him or her in these settings. Get to know them on a personal level rather than going on about business. Doing so will build confidence and also expose you to more sides of that person, potentially helping you make the right decision in working with them or not.

Don’t sell too much
Keep meetings informative, but avoid talking up yourself too much. Ask people questions about themselves and give them a chance to speak. Don’t be arrogant and act like you’re doing groundbreaking things nobody else is doing. If you try to tout yourself as the best, chances are you’re actually the complete opposite.

Bring business cards
If you’ve paid for the tickets, the airfare, hotel, and other travel expenses, then please, bring some professional-looking business cards. Plan ahead for the future and figure out ways to make your business cards stand out. Giving people a solid business card will definitely make a lasting impression on them. At the very least, it will get you kudos for your hard work and investment!

Don’t cancel meetings
If you’ve set time aside for a meeting, try not to cancel. Going to conferences can really throw people’s schedules off, but canceling on someone you’ve made plans to meet with will pretty much kill any possibility of working with that individual in the future. If you can’t even be responsible enough to show up, do you really think you’ll be seen as someone who can accomplish anything else you’re proposing?

Bring at EPK
If you are an artist and you want to get things done, show up with a USB that has a professional electronic press kit, your best songs, and any other relevant information about you. A USB is something quick and easy that you can hand out to a record label, another fellow artist, booking manager or anyone else you may meet along the way. CDs are a bit old fashioned nowadays, so handing out a USB is a great way to make an impression and also give people more information about you. Think about it, if I were to pop in a USB drive and see free songs, an EPK and perhaps a music video, I would at least contact the artist to give them props on their marketing method.

Follow up
So you’ve spent a lot of money, gotten information overload and jammed out with your new friends, met new and interesting companies, and are jet-lagged from the events you’ve participated in. Now what? FOLLOW UP. You have a stack of business cards, so do something about it and hit people up while the event is still fresh in their memory. Keep in mind that they may not remember you, so be sure to give people a brief introduction on yourself when you toss them a quick email or phone call. Show some gratitude, too. People are taking time out of their busy schedule to possibly talk to you, so it’s beneficial to show your appreciation by sending them a note that says, “Thank you for your time.”

Anyone can apply these basic methods while networking, no matter how successful they may be. The most important thing to take away from this, however, is being courteous and showing respect to your fellow peers in the music industry.