Today I am sitting in the Los Angeles International Airport waiting for a flight to Austin to attend the Southwest Folk Alliance Conference. This will be my first time at SWRFA, but about my 10th conference.
I have scheduled two informal solo showcases and am also performing on the main stage at a formal showcase on Saturday night.
I have only scheduled three showcases so that I may meet, greet and network with all these new people that I am about to meet.
Frequently, new comers to these conferences will schedule a dozen informal showcases (that’s where you do about twenty minutes for strangers comprised of other acts, venue owners, series bookers, house concert people and fans). When one does that, one ends up racing from one showcase to another and not doing the networking so necessary to survival in this microcosm of the music world.
When you attend these conferences what you want to do is to meet as many people as possible, as many musicians as possible, as many venue owners as possible. These people can tell you about places and people you might not know or know about. You can’t do that if you are running around like crazy doing dozens of showcases.
There is also one other thought, if you are doing dozens of showcases then none of them is an event. If you are doing one per night, then folks know that they better make that showcase if they intend to see me. The psychology of the thing is, if you have dozens, well they’ll make one of them, but if you only have one per night, then they know that they must schedule you in. Trust me it works.
It’s now Tuesday evening and I’m back from a very successful conference. I did only a few showcases, for which I was very prepared and I did a lot of networking and schmoozing and ended up with everyone I contacted offering me a date.
Partially because I did good showcases and partially because I spent time with people and didn’t just race from one showcase to another hoping that someone would see me.
Find people that you like and connect with them. You don’t have to connect with people that you don’t like or who seemingly don’t like you. You come off phony or needy or wanting something and it never works.
Be real. Be honest. Be sincere. Be prepared and do the best you can when you play. Focus on being the best you can. Make it the number one priority, followed by networking and connecting. You’ll enjoy these things and come away with new work and new friends.