Making the Most of a Tough Showcase

by SaskMusic

August 7, 2009 in Marketing & Promotion

To follow up Ask Percy’s response on making the most out of a showcase, let’s examine a successfully executed showcase plan.

Scenario: Jane’s band has gotten a showcase spot. But it’s in a tough time slot in a venue that’s out of the way. This is the band’s first time showcasing at this conference. What should Jane do?

She asks herself: Who do I most want to have at the showcase and how do I get them into the room?

• Jane spends some time researching the delegates who are coming to the conference. She reads about their companies, interests, looks for pictures, talks to colleagues, and gathers as much information as she can. Jane then "classifies" those people into six groups: supporters (colleagues and friends), other artists, current business partners, potential business partners, no value-adds, and unsures. The no-value adds are those contacts who are not a good fit with the band (stylistically or otherwise), and the unsures are those for whom Jane could not find enough information.
• She researches the festival lineup to determine where showcase conflicts exist (acts or events that may draw the crowd away).
• Jane contacts her music industry association (MIA) for organizational support. She emails or phones the band's supporters and other artists (those who aren't showcasing at the same time), inviting them to the showcase to provide support, feedback, and advice. Jane emails current and potential business partners with a sales pitch, links to the band’s bio and music, and an invite to the showcase. She personalizes emails wherever possible.
• She then works with the band and festival director to finalize logistics and prepare promotional material. They map out a plan for attending conference workshops, and book business meetings ahead of time.

At the Event:
• Jane attends as many social events as possible to connect with people prior to meetings and to the showcase.
• She stays visible throughout the festival and conference, especially attending panels where the speaker(s) are people she wants to make contact with. She is careful to keep promotional material on hand, while recognizing that it’s about the relationship first and business later. She asks people about their interests and line of work - showing she has done her research - and always leaves the door open by asking for advice or perspective (as opposed to making a business proposition, which is a door-closer). She learns peoples’ names and makes notes about conversations she has with them. At the showcase itself, Jane and the band connect with as many people as possible. All band members look for additional opportunities to showcase or network during the event - jam sessions, hotel rooms.

• Jane follows up with all business leads and new contacts, sending out promo packages where requested. She sends emails thanking everyone who attended (as she kept notes of everyone she spoke to at the showcase). Then, Jane and the band review what went well and what could be improved upon next time.

And the results?
• The band played to a packed house – even though it was considered a "tough showcase", through supporters, the local MIA, and targeting people who would see a mutual benefit to attending the showcase. Jane and the band have established several new relationships, some of which may lead to business deals.

Of course, it doesn’t always work out this well. Sometimes the showcase is just a tough showcase. That being said, putting in the work prior to, during, and after your spot will result in much greater rewards. Capitalize on the investment you're making by putting the work in to justify it.

By Julie Desjarlais for SaskMusic. Originally published Winter 2006.

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