Music conferences are an amazing opportunity to network, meet new people, and move your career forward. But, they can be quite expensive as well. Here are some ways you can save money when attending a conference so that it doesn’t totally break the bank:
1. Volunteer for the conference
If you plan far enough ahead, and if you are willing to sacrifice some of your free time while at the conference, offer to volunteer. Conferences are always looking for good volunteers, and they are often artists. You can sometimes get your conference fee waived, or at least waived on the days that you volunteered.
But be prepared to work hard. If you show up late and you’re tired and/or hung-over because of all-night partying, chances are you won’t be asked back again. Remember, you might be dealing with the very people who could be deciding whether you get a showcase or not at a future conference. Arrive early. Be extremely polite. Work hard. Make the conference proud that they chose you as a volunteer.
2. Split hotel room with someone
This one is a no-brainer, of course. If you’re attending a conference alone but want to save money on the hotel room, try and find someone to share the room with. Chances are that there are plenty of other like-minded people in the same boat.
If the conference has a Facebook page, post on their wall that you are looking for a roommate. Same thing for Twitter, follow the conference on Twitter and Tweet that you’re looking for a roommate, and politely ask if they could re-tweet (RT) to their followers. You could also tag your tweet with a hashtag # for the conference, so other people can find your tweet in a search.
Another option is contacting the conference by e-mail and asking if they know of anyone looking for a hotel roommate. Chances are they have received similar messages and can put you in touch with those people.
3. Bring your own food
One way to save money that your Mom has probably already taught you is to pack a lunch! Specifically, bring lots of snacks. While at a conference, you’ll likely do more snacking than sitting down to eat large meals, as you’ll constantly be on the go. Chips and candies are an option, but healthier choices like nuts, dried fruit, power bars, etc., will help you avoid burning out. Being at a music conference can already put a lot of stress on your system, if you add junk food and high doses of salt and sugar, you’re just asking for a crash.
4. Shop for groceries
When you check-in to your hotel, ask where the nearest grocery store is. Room service can certainly be convenient late at night, however if you plan ahead, you can save a bunch of money and find healthier options at a grocery store. Load up on the aforementioned healthy snacks, plus pre-made sandwiches (to save on time) and lots of veggies.
5. Go to showcases that have food
Run out of snacks? Couldn’t make it to the grocery store before it closed? Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to bed hungry. Many showcase venues/rooms provide food & snacks as a way of enticing people to come check out the showcase. Keep a look out, ask around, and check your Twitter feed, word spreads quickly where to find free food.
6. Getting to the conference: Carpool, Bus, Train
Sometimes travelling by plane is unavoidable. However, often artists will carpool together and make a road trip out of it. Similar to finding hotel roommates, ask around and see if anyone in your town is driving to the conference, or passing through on their way. Every year artists from my hometown of Montreal organize carpools heading to Toronto for CMW or NXNE, and sometimes even a long-distance road trip to Austin for SXSW or Memphis for Folk Alliance. If you’re on a tight budget, this could be a great money-saver.
If carpooling isn’t an option, look for deals to travel by train or bus. Often trains and buses will have free WiFi so you can also be productive on your way to the conference.
7. Stay at a cheaper hotel
Another idea to save some money would be to stay at a different hotel than the one hosting the conference. Use a combination of Google Maps and travel deal websites to find the best options. There will no doubt be other hotels close to the host hotel that are cheaper.
Have you done any of these things to save money when attending a music conference? Is there anything you would add to the list?