'Tis the season for applying to music conferences, which, as a rising artist or band, you already know is one of the best opportunities you have to network and learn – because everyone is there to network and learn. For many musicians and industry folks, the Folk Alliance International Conference is one of the most important, beneficial, and inspiring events of the year. But if you're one of the lucky ones chosen to attend Folk Alliance (or any other conference, for that matter), are you familiar with the right – and wrong – ways to market yourself? We asked a few people associated with Folk Alliance who really know their stuff to give us their biggest conference dos and don'ts:
Do have a plan
Surprise, surprise – this topped everyone’s list as the biggest conference “do”! Properly marketing yourself starts before you even leave for the conference.
“Who do you want to meet and why? How will you do that? Have you contacted them in advance to confirm when you’ll meet? Schedule out your time accordingly to make the most of the conference.” - Aengus Finnan, director of Folk Alliance International
“Go through the attendee list and find those people who you want to target to meet and have hear your music. Send them an email with your schedule, a description of your music/band, and a sample of your music – a direct link to your music or videos is best. Have your schedule, with contact information printed on it, ready to hand to them when you meet them.” - Mary Granata, founder of The Granata Agency and director of development and special projects at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance
“Send a brief, personalized email to anyone you would like to connect with. Be sensitive to the fact that some folks may be getting tons of emails, so don't take up too much of their time. And be honest with yourself about where you are in your career – what venues, festivals, or agents might you be a good fit for? That means do your research. Go to their websites. Care about what they do, too.” - The Sea The Sea, previous Folk Alliance Conference performer
Don’t think it’s only about playing
“Don’t desperately focus on getting gigs. Instead, network, attend panels and professional development sessions, and build relationships.” - Aengus Finnan, director of Folk Alliance International
Do follow up
“If you meet someone who you feel will be of help to you, follow up with an email. If you are asked to send a CD or download, do!” - Mary Granata, founder of The Granata Agency and director of development and special projects at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance
Don’t send impersonal emails
“Sending mass emails is not only the worst way to connect with folks, but it turns them off to what you're doing. There are probably a lot of arguments for why that's the case, but if nothing else, just know how you feel when you get spammed.” - The Sea The Sea, previous Folk Alliance Conference performer
Do you have any tips for marketing yourself at conferences? Leave them in the comments below!