Rockin' in Rockglen: Showcasing

by SaskMusic

August 6, 2009 in Ask Percy

Yo Percy,
We just landed a showcase, and are wondering what we can do to make the most of the opportunity?
- Rockin' in Rockglen

Hey Rockin’

Jumping into a bigger pond can be scary. My mother always told us small-fry to check out the sand, plants, and other fish before we leapt into a new bowl. You gotta go prepared with everything you'll need to feel good, and be successful in the new environment. So…

1) Decide on your goals and objectives for the showcase/conference. These events can be overwhelming – especially if you haven’t attended this type of thing before. Planning ahead will help to reduce that overwhelming feeling, and gives you a sense of purpose.

2) Research who'll be attending ahead of time - panelists, delegates and other performers. Make notes and decide who/what you want to check out. Chances are pretty good there will be scheduling conflicts in various things you’d like to take in.

3) Make pre-event contact with any panelists, attendees and artists you’d like to meet. Most industry professionals come to these events with a jam-packed schedule of meetings, and it can be tough to nail them down if you wait until you get there. Send out personal showcase invitations in advance.

4) Prepare biz cards, fin bills…err...sorry, hand bills, and posters to take along. You gotta let people know when and where you’re performing. Don't rely on the festival program alone to fill your venue.

5) Book rooms at the conference hotel, or failing that, at the nearest alternative as early as possible. Not living at the conference hotel is kinda like staying at the anemone when everyone else is hanging out at the coral. If you can’t make it work, plan to spend a lot of time hanging at the host hotel. Most of the business gets done in lounges, over meals, and at the parties between showcases and workshops.

6) There is a time to talk business and a time not to talk business. Seems relatively simple, but I have observed countless times where people have interrupted a big-shot industry professional in order to promote their project/band, while the professional is relaxing and having a drink with some colleagues. I could tell by the look on that professional’s face that he/she was never going to forget that artist, and not for good reasons. Ditto goes for the workshops – it's not the place to promote your band. Stick to questions that the rest of the audience will find pertinent. (Unless of course the panelist is getting dead air...then they'll welcome your interaction.)

7) Be friendly and genuinely interested in people and their interests – I am ick-ridden by people who just want to talk business and are only interested in “what you can do for them”. Practice remembering names. Also, I don’t recommend handing CDs out while at the conference, as most industry folks won’t have the room in their luggage to get them all home. Instead, get a business card, follow up, and send out a CD afterward.

8) Make a schedule and stick to it. Arrive early at the showcase venue. Be nice to the sound guy, respectful of the time that you have been allotted, and the other artists who are showcasing. And don’t forget to promote the show. Most are open to the public – what are your plans for reaching local print media, radio, and retail stores?

After the conference is over, send out follow-up emails to contacts, thank the conference hosts, and get your contacts entered into your database.

High Fins!


Originally published Autumn 2006.

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