The State of the Music Conference

*reposted from August 11, 2012. Thought it was still VERY relevant.

As an independent artist going through a journey just like so many others, I find it not only necessary , but gratifying to learn more about the music industry and the people in it.  We all seek to know more about the elusive world that we meditate on daily.  Many of us looking for help in the obvious of places read Tweets, have the Facebook game on lock, and most effective, attend conferences and festivals.

Most music conferences (especially here in Atlanta) are an effective way to network with music industry executives that might be hard to catch a coffee with on a random Saturday afternoon.  There are a good amount of conferences that will allow the artist to get their song heard by a panel of executives and receive critique  that will help them cultivate their musical and image direction .  Musical conferences and festivals will allow you to meet other like-minded creatives that are probably looking for the same results as yourself.

But as I go to more and more music industry conferences, I tend to realize that i’m not learning anymore.  Actually, I do put faces with names.  I do meet a few extraordinary souls that do drop jewels on the musical youth, but sadly not enough.  I feel like we’re in the same class with a new teacher and different walls.  I feel like I stayed back in Music University 3 times.  As someone who is taking steps to truly invest in my career, I start to wonder, am I doing too much, or am I not getting enough?

Like i’m sure most of you know or assume, I (Renee Gardner) currently get to straddle both sides of the fence (artist/behind the scenes), so I look at everything from many viewpoints.  And as much as we learn what we need to be doing to better ourselves, I believe that blame cannot solely be on us(The artist) .

I (Ms. behind the curtain), look at my colleagues and I sometimes shake my head.  I sit in the chairs and listen to people give half truths, holding back the most important piece to the puzzle.  I hear people drop names of brands, platforms, artists, and never tell the artist how to use them.  People yell “NETWORK!!” and tell you all the ways not to network, and never what is acceptable.  “Buying your dj a drink or two” “Find out what else he likes to do, outside of music”. Is that really the best we’ve got?  Is that really the key to the bigger picture?

(Finding out that this guy likes char-grilled steaks with homemade mashed potatoes?  So not only do you have to get your cds straight, your views/fans/followers up, pay for studio time, mix, master, build a team, perform, push my product, copyright, trademark, promote, network, pay for life, pay for performances, pay for conferences, pay for organizations, pay for marketing, get a publicist, now go out to the clubs and buy drinks or buy dinners, shoes, call and talk about fishing or golf ,when you grew up on the side of town that has none of that and you rap about it on the daily? )

I Digress…

I just feel like we’re holding back.  We can’t talk about the state of a genre when we don’t really teach people  how to better.  From the preacher to the pulpit, we need to do better.  Our event planners and conference holders need to think more about the student and less about the money.   Our teams need to do more to learn that there are other important people at the conference, and not just those on the panel.  Our panels need to be more effective.  Whether the moderator needs better questions, or the panelists need better answers, somebody, if not everybody needs to come harder.  If we really wanna make a change, if we truly want to make a difference, we have to give the masses better.

It’s very rare that it’s someone’s first time in the music conference rodeo.  People come from out of town because their tired of their same ol’ same.  Unfortunately, most of the time they’re just coming to another same ol’ same just in another state (or country).

We as a music community have to share our knowledge.  No one’s going to beat you at being you just because you guided them in the right direction.  Every event is not just a photo op or a place to exchange emails or contacts.  We can get that information before we even have to pay.  “Do your research”- remember? that’s always a good one…