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The importance of music showcases – Get the best of them !

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Why you should not neglect music showcases/conferences?

If you are a band and looking to extend your opportunities to grow successfully, then attending music showcases could definitely be a good starting point.

Beside, if you have been interacting per email with labels, bookers, media, it’s always good to attend music showcases & conferences and meet them face to face. It helps to grow the relationship.

So my definite answer is: Yes music showcases help artists to grow and shine in front of professionals. For instance, it's not uncommon for some artists, after a performance at music showcases, to be offered a deal with a big label or were offered to participate to some well established festivals.

There are a lot of success stories but don’t take them necessarily for granted. Some tremendous work need to be done in order to be effective and be noticed.

Being noticed among all the flock of artists/bands applying and performing is certainly a massive but exciting challenge.

 

Check how Estonian act "I Wear* Experiment" work their way during  showcases

Electro Pop band from Estonia

Doing music showcases are always a gamble. Meaning: no matter if you travel 500km or 5000km for the gig with no pay- its a cost and you add the hotels and food and your crew- its all a cost. The point in doing showcases is to earn that cost or investment back at one point. So its in your own interest to do as much as possible to make that costly gig a beneficial one. Invite delegates to the gig, network, make new friends, do as many interviews as possible, prepare the gig really well. In our experience- some music showcases have sucked. Really bad. And then there are some showcases that we thought will suck but they have helped us travel the world many many times and resulted in epic gigs. To prevent yourself from losing your mind- think like that- even if its a shitty showcase- put on your best performance and struggle through- this experience will help you grow and be more grateful when you step on a stage infront of 10 000 people.

Definition of a music showcase

A showcase festival is an event combining public performances (like a festival) and industry conferences/trade events.

Note:the existence of such event help also a region to develop their economy and get a certain visibility.

 

Who are the delegates:

Bands, Labels, publishers, booking agencies, venue bookers, festival organisations, pr companies,  software providers, government representation such as Music Export and any other associations interacting with the music industry.

As you can see, there are a large number of actors, and all with a specific goals therefore it’s crucial that you identify who you should meet during those music & conference events.

 

Popular music showcases across the world

Note: this is not a complete list

TGE (UK)

TMW (Estonia)

Midem (France)

Bime (Spain)

Monkey Week (Spain)

Eurosonic (Netherlands)

Reeperbahn (Germany)

SXSW (US)

By larm (Norway)

Luc Fest (Taiwan)

Sonik Philippines (Philippines)

MU:CON (Korea)

MaMA Festival (France)

TIMM (Japan)

PIN (Macedonia)

Westway Lab (Portugal)

Sharpe Festival (Slovakia)

Enea Spring Break (Poland)

Linecheck (Italy)

MuseExpo (US)

Spot (Denmark)

Westside Music (Sweden)

Bangkok Music City (Thailand)


Zandari Festa (Korea)

Canadian Music Week (Canada)

Australian Music Week (Australia)

Music Matters (Singapore)

Moscow Music week (Russia)

Waves Vienna (Austria)

Bush (Hungary)

Ment (Slovenia)

Nouvelle Prague (Czech Republic)

Focus Wales (Uk)

Asean Music Showcase (SE Asia)

What's Next In Music (Lithuania)

Mastering Music Business (MMB) (Romania)

Live At Heart (Sweden)

Sonic Vision (Luxembourg)

M4Music (Switzerland)

Music Showcase (Greece)

Kontakt (Serbia)

C/O Pop Festival (Germany)

Ears (multi location)

Break out West (Canada)

M for Montreal (Canada)

Why, as a band/artist you should take part in those events ?

 There are multiple and various reasons such as:

  • You are searching for labels or distribution opportunities, 
  • You need the help of a booker to find you gigs in a specific territory,
  • You need the help of a booker to find you gigs in a specific territory
  • You want to participate to some festivals
  • You want the help of a pr agency for your next release and boost your media visibility in a specific territory
  • You are looking for a collaboration with a producer, an artist
  • You might be interested to educate yourself by attending panels and understand how you can navigate throughout the music industry with your band ?
As you can see, there is multiple reason to attend music showcases, depending on your goals and strategy.

 An example of strategy could be: Your band is based in France and has tour a lot in the French territory and is looking to extend their touring activities in the Benelux. As a band, by joining a music showcase (for instance like Eurosonic) your goal will be to contact and set up meetings with bookers (from venues and festivals) from the Benelux but also eventually PR agencies or artists based in that region.

 

 Is it for your band or not ?

There is no straight answer.

Based on my experience, I would recommend artists and bands who wish to apply to music showcases, to have some foundation in place such as  a fan base in their home country and have at least a record released.

 Also if you have a good national but also international touring history, it will help as well to bring more weight in your profile. The stronger your profile is, the more chance you have to be selected.

I always tell to bands to grow their geographical zone organically. If it works well in your home country, think about the neighbouring countries before thinking a country at the other side of the planet. You will save money and time.

Finally, if you have a new single about to be released or released few weeks/month ago, and you were/are currently touring, you should definitely look at a participation to a music showcase (potentially in the region you are touring or target to tour).


 

Apply the right way and increase your chance to be selected.

Nowadays, music showcases are receiving tons of submissions from bands wishing to participate.  Therefore, competition is very high and organisers need to make tough decision about which bands to select.

Did you know that some showcases receive several thousand requests for 150/300 slots. IF you are not selected on the first attempt, you can always try the following year (maybe at that time your profile might be stronger and organisers may get some interest..).

Before applying for a showcase, you need to have a credible online profile and a proper strategy in place (as described above). 

You will make sure to have :

  • An updated website 
  • Social media enabled (with activity in terms of content and engagement with audience),
  • and your music available on platform (soundcloud, spotify, deezer)
  • Youtube channel with official video clips and proper live footage.
  • An updated EPK
  • Some quotes from key people of the music industry (it’s always good to have but not compulsory)
  • Business cards

I know, it can be very time consuming to have those elements above updated on regular basis, and I can totally understand that you prefer to focus on your music instead. Therefore, you may think of building a mini team (people from your surrounding or eventually outsource to professional if you can) that could help you and handle those tasks for you.

 

TIPS: when applying online for a showcase, always mention your activities for your past and next 3 to 6 months such as touring plan, release plan, promotion campaign.

 

Exploring the delegates database:

Let’s suppose your band is selected. You will have access to the delegates database.

It’s very important to have a good overview of who will be present at the events and for that, you should dig in the delegates list and build a schedule of meetings. In order to do this, I would advise the following:

  • Make a selection of persons/companies you wish to meet and/or want to invite for your performance.
  • Contact them per email, introduce yourself,
  • Give them some background about your band,
  • What did you achieve over the last 12 months,
  • What is your plan for the next 12 month,
  • Feed them with details about your performance at the showcase,
  • Provide them links and finally explain why you want to meet them.

Some will answers, some will not. For the one who don’t answers, you may send them a reminder about your show, you never know, they might show up unexpectedly.

 

Dance/electronic duo

Read  below how beneficial was music showcases and conference to Indonesia band Bottlesmoker

First time my music project, Bottlesmoker participated in regional music festival was in Manila for A*Fest in 2010. We get so many people there who involved in music industry, then finally we played in Baybeats, Singapore which made us get exposures from some festival directors from around the world. So we think, to be participated in an international or regional music festival or conference was beneficial for our career special for building a networking and we learned so many things from people that we met there.

How to maximise your chance to be noticed during music showcases

You will have a good number of opportunities to network.

 

During your show:

It’s crucial that you come prepared and organised.

  • Start your show on time (bookers, a&R don’t like to wait), often they check the first 3 songs before to run to another show.
  • Have a compact show and display the best of your abilities.
  • Promote yourself during the show.
  • Finally, after the show, mingle with the audience and collect their feedback (positive or negative) and business cards.

Note: There is always a possibility that just few people come to see your show, therefore it’s extremely important you give the best as you never know who is in the audience !

During the music showcase event:

I know, as a band you might be busy working on the prep of your show, which I do understand, however don’t forget the importance to network. Don’t play your show and then just go back home, it will be a pointless and disappointing experience because nobody will call you.

  • Instead  work on your full schedule of meetings,
  • Make sure, you give a proper pitch based on who is in front of you. Think of the elevator pitch: you have a minute and need to explain to the person in front of you: who you are, give some background and why you want to meet that person.
  • Remember meeting are often short, so keep it clear and straight to the point.
  • Give goodies to the person you talk to in order for them to remember you (usb key, or anything that is relevant, avoid cd…..)
  • Collect business cards, contact details.

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During panels of discussion:

It’s always good to go to discussion panels, mostly because it’s surely a good way to meet panelists or a delegate you have been chasing for weeks and get their attention for a minute. Some of them may give you their business card. You can always follow up per email later on.

During conferences after-parties:

It may seem very awkward, but after-parties are usually a good place to mingle and meet the person you want to approach.


Post music showcase:

Once the showcase is over, and you are back home, I recommend you do

  • an inventory of the contacts you made
  • segment them based per interest
  • re-contact them and continue eventually the discussion you started and push further your projects
  • Re-evaluate your current project based on the new contacts you made
  • Re-evaluate your performance based on the feedback you received during the music showcase

Finally, I wanted to share a very interesting input about the world of showcases provided by one of the coolest act of the South East Asian Region: Lightcraft.

They definined themselves as an anthemic indie-rock band, based in Jakarta. The band had opportunities to perform in several international music showcase event such as: The Great Escape, SXSW, Zandari, Music Matters Singapore. Through the years they build a solid live reputation across various regions but also gained a very solid experience in terms of touring.

Lightcraft give their opinion about showcases

Lightcraft  is providing their thoughts about showcases

Initially, we were quite apprehensive with the concept of having to cover almost all of the expenses ourselves for the sake of playing a show. It took us a fair bit to readjust our collective mindset and see them more as long-term investments rather than a burden, especially once we had discovered other ways to finance the costs involved.


We have taken part in quite a few showcase festivals so far, such as, among others, SXSW, Zandari Festa, Canadian Music Week, and Music Matters Live, and we have gained a lot from them, including new contacts and friendships, constructive experience, and opportunities to further our career. Each showcase festival is unique and has its own perks for acts to take advantage of.


We would certainly recommend bands and musicians to try their luck at playing showcase festivals be they at home or abroad as they can pick up so much from doing so. But it is essential to do their homework before they go and pull out all the stops when they are there so as to maximise results.

This is in a nutshell what you need to remember when you decide to take part to a music conference and showcase. 

Overall, I do recommend artists or bands to apply for showcases (if the time is right), or at least to join as a delegate and attend panels and start networking with your peers but also with key actors from the music industry.

 I hope this post was helpful enough.



Enjoyed the article? 

You can find more great content here:

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Artist Manager Roles; Do You Really Need one ?

About the author 

John Willame

17 years experience in the Music Industry, I worked as a promoter in Bangkok for 8 years where I set up shows for Backstreet Boys, Death Cab For Cutie, Mogwai, Diana Krall, Herbie Hancock.. In 2016, I created my own artist management agency which focus on the development of emerging artists.

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