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Lesson 13 - Trade Fairs / Your Success Windows

The next stage in getting connected to your peers in a polite and non-pushy way would be to naturally meet them during a music conference / trade fair.

Truth be told, the music industry is a very small community of misfits. We were all considered nerds in highschool and felt like we needed to create our own little haven to escape to when things get rough. 

The evidence is the excessive network events we visit! Last year I attended 9 music Trade Fairs. 

Luckily one of them was in the Canary Islands so I got to soak a bit of sun on my last day 🙂 not that I would call it a day off though, cause I had meetings that day too!

 

Investment

A Trade fair visit can cost you anything between €750-€2500.

Depending on the destination, I’d factor in the following costs: 

 

€100-€1200 for your registration fee

 

€15-€100 per showcase application

 

€200-€600 for flights

 

€150-€600 for accommodation

 

€100-€250 for promotional materials

 

And some €150-€200 for local food/drink & travel

 

I know it seems like a huge investment but it does translate back into results: on each WOMEX visit I secure about 20 future engagements. Even securing only 1 concert is enough to cover your costs.

 

Before going to a trade fair, look at the delegates list and see WHO are any people you’d like to meet. Try to make APPOINTMENTS with them in advance, by sending a short & polite email. If they don’t respond, you can always try to FIND them in their country’s umbrella stand. The staff is usually very helpful and will direct you to the right person.

 

When you finally meet with your pivot-people, make sure you’re friendly and attentive. Don’t bombard your companion with information about yourself. LISTEN to them and show how you can be a part of their programme. Do your research in advance and summarise it to yourself in 2-3 sentences. Re-read your notes before your meeting, to refresh your memory. It can be very embarrassing to find out later on, that you THOUGHT you were talking to the artistic director of SXSW, but in fact you just asked the editor of Pitchfork magazine to book you a gig.

 

When your meeting is over, always ask permission to have that person’s business card & give yours in return. Take a few minutes to write down some notes from your conversation: focus on what made that appointment unique, and mention personal details: what are they like, or what are passionate about. It’ll help you remember the emotional aspects of that person, and not only their title. This will make your future encounters more natural and friendly.

 

Never cut the meeting short to go to another one. This will make both meetings awkward. I personally have a 1-meeting per hour rule. This is because these events are slightly unpredictable, as they are hosted in huge venues, with multiple floors, themes and 4000 people walking around. I bet you’ll feel like you’re in one of Escher’s paintings when you visit your 1st conference. It WILL take some time to orient yourself in the space. So don’t worry if someone stops your conversation to talk to a colleague who just passed by. It’s the nature of these events, and people might even join into your meetings.

 

What materials to take/prepare

When visiting trade fairs, make sure to take the following materials with you:

 

Posters

Take 50 posters in A3 or A2 format and plaster them on the walls of the trade fair – this will reinforce facial recognition.

Although this sounds obvious, many bands forget to mention their band’s name and website on the posters! So make sure you do 🙂

Another Tip, is to always bring duct-tape with you! The trade fair halls are usually located outside of the city center, far away from shops and supermarkets.

 

Business cards

Business cards are another great way to communicate your message. Get a great logo/set of colours and include your email address + website. 

 

CD’s

You can take a few CD’s with you, but only give them to people who request for them specifically. Most programmers nowadays prefer a submission on their website or an email with a link to the music.

 

Avoid bulky materials

No matter what format you choose, never make your materials too bulky. 

The truth is, that delegates who visit trade fairs have to pay their own way and it’s already quite expensive to fly, stay in hotels, eat out every day and buy a ticket to attend the conference.

This probably means they will fly low-cost and try to SQUEEZE all their belongings for a WEEK away in a CABIN size luggage. It’s therefore unrealistic to expect them to pay for an extra piece of luggage, to carry back CD’s of bands they don’t know. Not to mention, the environment doesn’t need another discarded laminated press kit.

Sadly, all BULKY materials end up as hotel rooms DECORATIONS & in trash cans. 


  • Important to consider:

  • It’s important to consider, that visiting a trade fair once isn’t enough to say “I’ve tried”. This is something you’d have to do on a regular basis – and return to the same conference several times – to UP-KEEP & strengthen your relationships – and continue to meet new people.

TASK:

Research trade fairs online and decide which one is the best for your music. Plan to visit it within a year, defining the projected costs, who would you meet, the materials you would take and how you’d follow up.