So, you got booked to a Showcase Festival or are planning to attend one. Congratulations if you got booked and great if you plan to visit one, good choice. In this part of Showcase Festivals for Dummies, I will go guide you through the dos and dont’s of how to make the most out of a Showcase Festival.
Firstly, don’t overdo it. Many artists get really excited that they will get a show at a Showcase Festival and suddenly they are planning a show of a lifetime. Yes, its can be an opportunity of a lifetime but the people that are going to see you want to see what they get. So, if you book a small choir of singers for the background vocals and an extra person on the saxophone, yes, it will sound great and be amazing on stage, but for the professionals, we will think “okay, the promo picture showed four people in the band do we really need the other extra eight? That will be a massive cost in transportation. Try to make a great show that you can re-create every time. So even if it’s tempting for this time using some fireworks, if it’s not in the show every time just skip the extravaganza, be excellent at everything else.
To be excellent there is another thing artists tend to miss. At a Showcase Festival, you change the line-up pretty fast. Many forget to practice and get a handle on a 10 minute changeover. Instead, they are running around and doing this, tuning instruments. On a Showcase Festival, the industry people actually watch this. There might be a soundcheck but mostly likely there will not be one. The industry people know that it will be a line check. They know that you are tuning stuff for the first song or two. It’s actually worse to screw up the changeover and be late than tuning in stuff during the first song. The really good ones actually practice this and can do a changeover in 5 min. Everything is patched, and they mainly just need to hook in two or three cables.
Play the show like it was your last. Many times, there might be not too many in the audience. This can be that they are on another show and are planning to get to yours later. Some bands then just play uninterested, but not knowing that the most important person might be standing there from the beginning.
The biggest mistake artists do is consider it as a gig. Usually, the payment on Showcase Festival is that you get badges and access to the industry people that are there. For that, it’s good if you are at the festival for whole time. Many artists just take this like another gig and arrive the same day as the gig, do the gig, and head on to the next thing. With that, you won’t take the advantage that you need from a Showcase Festival. Think of the festival as a job, you need to be there the whole time and work on all the contacts and opportunities the festival is actually providing. Don’t waste time going on sightseeing trips or always dine in that cozy, little restaurant in the corner or just hanging out backstage. Be at the conference, all the parties, and network that is what you are there for. Not doing that, your Showcase Festival will be a disaster leading nowhere.
Also, be professional. Many artists bring their CDs, Vinyl’s and Cassettes. That is ok, but they forget to bring their contact details. Much of the merch that you get from Showcase Festival you more or less just drop in the hotel room because they will make your suitcase overweight. If you hand this out, have choices. You can have just a card whit your contacts and a link to a secret page where you find your music. Then if I really want your vinyl then I can take it, but probably I’m good enough just with the card and the download site. In the end, many will make the decision based on the live performance. And from there start to check out Spotify, YouTube, and social media.
Another thing is also to be ready to network. As an industry professional you really hate when you have an appointment with someone and they start by asking “so what are you doing, and how could that benefit my project”? I even look into the artist that I will have a meeting with. Even with newcomers in the business, I will check out and see what they are up to and ask relevant questions. When people have done their homework you become impressed. Then it’s another thing if you bump into someone and you have no clue what they are doing. On second thought you should know even then who they are since they probably are on the Delegate list. But if it happens, don’t ask people what favors they can do, instead talk about your projects and your needs.
Lastly, don’t be lazy. You have to go all-in if you are doing a Showcase Festival. It will never be as good as you make it. If you just skip meetings, don’t hang on the panels and see what people have to say, and just hang with your buddies drinking beer. That just makes the Showcase Festival will an expensive vacation. So take the chance and work 24 hours straight for the whole festival to make sure you get the most out of it. Many a career has broken by being on that Showcase Festival.
If you missed the other editions of Showcase Festivals for Dummies check out these previous articles:
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. As well he recently worked as the European Consultant for Heal the Earth – An Earth Day Celebration. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes scheduled for September 16-18, 2021.