I remember the board meeting the first year I was getting my network together. This is over fifteen years ago, so the concept was new to go around and attend different events to build up a strong network to get your music out into the world. Before this, you mainly just built networks yearly at Midem in Cannes, France and that was it. As well, there was a hierarchy that was sometimes very hard to break through.
When Midem started to go downhill and more festivals popped up, I was working hard to get in. First, I was new to the international scene. I was not famous in any way. Yes, I had worked a lot in the industry and had some successes both with placements and artists but not enough to be invited to these conferences. Instead, I invested in myself or the company whatever way you look at it. I offered to be at conferences and fly myself in just to be there and network. After a while more and more people recognized me, and I started to get the network that was needed to in the end be invited to festivals and panels. This took over three years and the cost was very high. This board meeting was kind of where the investors and the board were quite fed up that I spending almost half the company’s income on going to festivals around the world just like they saw it, having a party, and talking to people.
I had to explain what my plan was, that right at that moment I was close to starting getting these travel costs covered for free in exchange to be on panels. The expenses I had put in actually paid off in contacts that in their turn made it possible to be invited and speak at the conferences. I was almost there just giving me six months more.
Luckily, my board believed in my idea and right after that I just got some of the bigger deals inside my network. Those deals propelled me into the big league of getting on panels and visiting conferences. Today I have recouped all the costs I did back then, but since we don’t have any funding systems in Sweden, I had to do it straight out of our company’s pocket and take a huge gamble. And back then it was fewer conferences and fewer chances.
What strikes me today is that many just take all this for granted. I see artists getting funded or even paying for themselves going to these conferences, but they don’t do the work. When I started, I was like crazy going on everything. If there was a party at three in the morning with networking (not just drinking and partying), I was there. I still got up at eight in the morning and kept on going. I was first in the conference part and the last to leave. I introduced myself to people in the lounge area and managed to get meetings with people. At every conference, I came back with at least a hundred business cards that I then woud follow up with once I was back at my desk.
What I currently see is that many artists and people in the business just go to the conferences to drink some drinks, not networking at all. Right now, you can but I bet you that soon we are back in the hierarchy, and you won’t reach these people as easy as now. If you are lucky to get on these conferences and showcases, do your homework, sure party as well but be sure to do your homework with meetings and networking. Research before you get there. It works.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 35 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. In 2021, he 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 futureechoes.se/. Peter is a Managing Partner and Editor of the newly launched Record World International.