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What I Learned From Attending My First Music Conference



A guest post by Angela Mastrogiacomo of Muddy Paw Public Relations



What I Learned From Attending My First Music Conference

With 6 years of blood, sweat, and tears poured into this industry, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that I’ve only just attended my first music conference this past weekend. When I heard Launch Music Conference would be once again invading Lancaster, PA, I jumped at the chance to go. While I had an incredible time, and can’t wait to go again, there were definitely a lot of learning moments that only being there could teach me. So if you’re attending your first conference, big or small, check out these 6 tips.


Small Conferences > Large Conferences

Don’t get me wrong, each has their perks. But one of the things I heard panelists say a lot is that small conferences are a much better way to meet new people, and interact with panelists/industry heavyweights, than a larger conference. Not surprisingly, the larger conferences (such as SXSW) can be chock full of hectic schedules, and while you may find more industry influencers at a larger conference, your chances of actually getting one on one time with them seems to decrease the larger the conference.


They’ll Open Your Mind

One thing I was really hoping for when I attended Launch was to find inspiration and new ideas within the panels I attended and the people I met—and I wasn’t disappointed. With every panel, I found inspiration in the speaker’s experience and advice. Even if I attended a topic I thought I knew a lot about, just hearing different perspectives and outlooks challenged my own. Go in with an open mind, and a notebook, and you’re bound to walk away with a book full of new ideas and inspiration.


Be assertive

One thing I’ve always struggled with is being assertive. In my mind, I can map out exactly what I want and how to get it. I can even think up exactly what I want to say when I approach someone.  Actually approaching that person out of the blue? It can be pretty overwhelming. But hiding in the corner and just admiring the people you need to connect with isn’t going to do you any favors. As scary as it might be to approach someone that could change your life, your career, and your outlook, if you’re serious about growth and building your network, it’s crucial. So take a deep breath, and take control of your life.


Ask Questions

At all of the panels I attended, audience members had the opportunity to ask questions at the end. During the first few panels people just asked questions from their seats, didn’t stand up or introduce themselves, and, as one tends to be when speaking in a room full of people, were pretty timid. Half the time, I honestly had no idea who was even asking the question. But as soon as Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman took the stage and began taking questions, he put an end to that. He insisted those with a question stand up, introduce themselves and what they did, and then ask their question. As he (rightfully) pointed out, this is an excellent opportunity to meet people and introduce yourself to not only the industry professionals in front of you, but a room full of likeminded individuals. If you think about it, that entire room is there for the same reasons: to network, and to learn. You never know who may be able to help you out. So when you’re given the chance to stand in front of everyone and ask a question, don’t be shy about who you are or what you do. Own it, and be proud of it.

One example is a young woman of just 18 who when called on, proudly introduced herself as the manager of a band that was also at the conference. After the panel ended, that woman was swarmed with other bands and professionals (including myself) wanting to work with her and her band. Moments before she’d asked her question, they’d had no idea who she was. But because she stood up, introduced herself, and the band she managed, she opened herself up to not only the panelists she had a question for—but the entire audience. Just think of how many new opportunities and connections she made from that one simple act. All it takes is one action to change the course of your career.


Get creative with networking

Another piece of advice that panelists tended to push, was that while networking is crucial, it can become tiring to constantly be asked only about what you do, and to feel like your only purpose to someone is to help them. You need to connect on a personal level to really leave a lasting first impression.


In the age of the internet, finding out about someone is easier than ever, and as Kevin Lyman himself noted, you can (and should) internet stalk the person you want to connect with to find out what they like, and use that as a way to connect. Want to have a conversation with Kevin Lyman? Don’t just bombard him with questions about Warped Tour, chat him up about fishing or BBQ. Read old interviews, check out their website, and get a sense of what the people that inspire you get excited about. Don’t get creepy about it, but don’t be afraid to broach topics that you know you’ll both connect on.


One fantastic story that stuck with me, told by Jen Kellogg, (tour accountant for Warped Tour, former talent buyer at Jam Productions) was watching Bob Dylan, who was notoriously private, spend an hour talking to one of the venue workers after a show, because he just happened to ask him about motorcycles, which was one of Dylan’s passions. People love to talk about their work, but at the end of the day, it’s nice to connect about their other passions as well.


Pack Snacks

Last but certainly not least, pack snacks! This one may seem silly, but it’s probably one of the more overlooked parts of a conference. Even at the smallest conferences, your schedule is likely to be packed. At Launch, I found myself glued to the panels that ran from 10:30am-4pm. If you’re anything like me, you’re bound to get pretty hungry during that time frame, and with the largest break being only 10 minutes, running out to get food can be tough. To help alleviate a growling stomach, be sure to pack healthy, filling, snacks like granola bars, cereal, apple, etc. And don’t forget to stay hydrated!


Angela Mastrogiacomo is the owner of Muddy Paw Public Relations. Muddy Paw specializes in working with up and coming artists on personalized campaigns designed to bring their careers to the next level. To date, we’ve secured placements on sites such as AbsolutePunk, Substream, Property Of Zack, PureVolume, Anti-Music, and many more. You can find us at www.MuddyPawPR.com

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