We all love a good conference, convention, seminar, workshop, showcase, class or get together. We’re social animals after all and love learning new stuff -- Especially if it has anything to do with our passion in life.
So what have you planned to learn this year? If music, recording, artistry, songwriting, playing… if creativity is your passion, it’s good to get out there and dive in with the best of them. There are plenty of good conferences, seminars and classes for musicians all over the world. Several of these opportunities will help us hone our craft while allowing us to network with the finest movers and shakers in the industry. Aim for the sky, right?
When you plan to attend anything which helps meet your goals in life, its great to be prepared. There are some basic tools you should have ready to bring with you, especially if trying to get in front of industry professionals:
- Business Cards: From swanky to basic, the business card is the fastest way to hand off your information without being pushy or amateurish. The card has your name, number, email and website info. (If you have one). You don’t need to add your home address or home phone. It’s better/safer to use a cell phone or business phone. When your business card is done right, the person you hand it to will be able to find out who you are, read all about you, and lead them to your music all in the half second it takes you to hand it to them. So arm yourself with one and don’t leave home without it. You can get business cards pretty much for free at www.vistaprint.com, but never have the printing companies’ logo printed on the back of your card.
- CD, Flash Drive or iPod: If you’re a music-making song broker, get heard. Have your music or song ready to hand off or play at moments notice. Music supervisors, music libraries, record executives and producers are looking for the next big thing, so get in front of them and prove who you are. If you don’t have media (CD, or jump drive) to hand out, please see item #1. Hand them a business card with website they can go to hear your music. You can sign up on MySpace for free and download a few of your tunes there. As a note: having your music to hand out on a custom printed flash drive with your name, logo, band name, website or phone number printed on it is just plain cool…
- Note Pad and Pen: Basic, right? But you’d never guess how many people asked me to borrow a pen at the last convention I attended. Ridiculous. Don’t come off as a non-pro. Be serious about yourself and that self-respect will carry you a long way. Besides, you’ll be taking so many notes in the conference classes, you’ll probably run out of ink, so bring two pens just in case. Also, industry pros have been known to give out their personal email addresses in their classes. It’s another way to get heard by sending them a quick email you attended their class, along with an MP3 of one or two of your best songs. If they want to hear more, they will let you know, believe that.
- Micro Recorder: Not a must, but great to have. Mini-cassette or digital will work. Listen, I used my iPhone (free app) and downloaded all my recordings from the last TAXI convention I attended to my computer. I still refer to them and am so glad I caught some of that great information on media.
- Bring a Snack: You get up early, grab your business cards, your note pad, your pen, your micro-recorder, your CD’s and flash drives but you forgot to eat breakfast? Classes often start as early as 6:00 or 7:00 AM, so just in case, bring a snack and a bottle of water. I know, I sound like your mom, but just do it. You’ll be glad you did.
- Bring Cash: At every convention, there are opportunities to purchase stuff. Books, equipment, CD’s, Books on tape, etc. Some vendors don’t take checks and some may not take credit cards. You may need to pay to park. Never know… It’s great to have cash on hand. Also may come in handy if you forgot your snack.
While At The Convention:
P Get Organized: Check-in and grab your bag and badge. Read the program and highlight the classes, seminars, panels or performances you want to attend. Check the timing of each one. Get there early so you can take a seat in the front. All of these details will help to make your experience less stressful. You’ll have plenty of time during breaks and lunch to socialize and network. Networking will add more of an impact to your career.
P Be Calm: Cool and collected, right? You may see celebs, paparazzi, major players your favorite drummer -- You are a just as important. No need to be needy, loud, drunk, obnoxious or star struck in front of them. Keep your cool and if you want to ask a question, do it, but have something important to say or ask, and take notes. Remember, you are increasing your knowledge, power and path to becoming a better you.
P Dress Comfortably: Don’t need to say much more here, but I wouldn’t wear my Elton John high tower platforms or my slinkiest, six inch stiletto heels and mini skirt to a convention. There is a lot of running, catching elevators, taking escalators, cramped classrooms, sitting on floors, etc. So comfort is key. On a personal note, a travel size deodorant in your backpack will go a long way…
P Network: Probably the most important thing you can do at a convention. But do it will grace, class and poise. Know who you are, but work the angles to find out who others are. How can contacting this person help you get further in your career? Networking has brought together many important collaborations of our time. If you want to co-write, co-produce, form a band or start a business, whatever your goal -- the key is to network. And you’ve prepared yourself to do it right. So get going and come back home ready to apply the connections from the business cards you’ve collected, the phone numbers and email addresses you’ve written down, the CD’s, websites, flash drives, mixed tapes, DVD’s, books and more. Then plan on making your career happen… your way. I’ll be seeing you at the next music convention!