Music conferences can a be a life changing experience, and the perfect place to educate yourself about the industry, connect with your contemporaries, and make contact with the powers that be. They can also be a huge waste of time however, so we've here provided a short list of must-attend conferences.
Guest post by James Shotwell of Haulix
Not all music conferences are created equal. Some will change your life, but others are a waste of time.
Music conferences are an increasingly popular way to learn about the industry, network with peers, and gain access to business leaders who may otherwise be unavailable. No two events are the same, which can be a good and bad thing for consumers, but they all promise to help dreamers learn how to make their fantasies a reality.
The truth is that no one can make your dreams a reality other than you. The best any conference can do is offer the chance to learn how to best position yourself for success. Maybe the means attending panels featuring discussions between industry figures you admire or perhaps it means submitting to showcase at a place where movers and shakers in the business may be present, but success itself is still your responsibility.
With this in mind, it’s important that aspiring professionals who want to attend music conferences select the right event to meet their needs and help their career. There are many conferences that offer little to no useful information, as well as many more who gladly take money from artists in exchange for showcase opportunities that have little to no likelihood of being attended by people who can actually boost a career. These events happen all over the country every year and will continue do so because the vast majority of aspiring professionals are so desperate for the keys to success that they will go anywhere and do anything to get ahead.
But that’s not you. The fact you’re reading this now says you’re only interested in making wise investments with your time and finances. You understand there are no shortcuts in this business, and that alone places you in rarified air in your peer group.
We’ve had the opportunity to attend music conferences from coast to coast, and though we have not been to them all, we do know several that have the potential to change your life and career. Don’t miss these events:
When: March 11-17
Where: Austin, TX
The largest gathering of dreamers and professionals in the world, SXSW is the go to destination for anyone trying to rise through the ranks of the music industry. There are hundreds of speakers, thousands of performers, and all the parties anyone could hope to attend. The street food is pretty good too.
We believe everyone should attend SXSW at least once in their lives. It’s a chaotic event unlike anything else that isn’t for everyone, but those determined to get their name or music in front of tastemakers can accomplish that on the streets of Austin as long as they have the confidence to step up and say something.
LAUNCH Music Conference
When: April 25-28
Where: Lancaster, PA
LAUNCH is the SXSW of Pennsylvania. In fact, it may be better than SXSW because those in attendance have more access to industry leaders and a better chance of seeing the next big band in music. The event welcomes thousands from around the US for four days of discussions and mentoring, all lead by some of the brightest minds in the music business. At night, the festival takes over the city of Lancaster with hundreds of live performances happening all over the historic downtown area.
Haulix has participated in LAUNCH several times and will return this April to appear on one of the many great panels curated by the event staff. We’d love to meet you, so please come out and say hello!
Music Biz 2019
Music Biz 2019, powered by the Music Business Association, will return to Music City USA to unite leaders in the commerce, content and creative communities across the globe to discuss the future of the music business and to build relationships that will steer the industry for years to come. Here you can find representatives from the biggest names in music, as well as networking opportunities with peers in a city where anything can happen.
We collaborate with the Music Biz organization throughout the year on webinars and other educational opportunities. Their star power and location sure makes Music Biz an event worth attending, but it’s the fact that they care about making sure everyone gets something from their conference that places them on this list.
East Coast Music Conference (ECMC)
When: May 9-12
Where: Norfolk, VA
For its second year, ECMC is adding more nationally recognized speakers, such as Matt Starr; Tune Core founder, Jeff Price; and documentarian, John Rash; along with 30 other speakers and panelists. Additionally, for the live music showcases, ECMC will be adding several national acts to compliment approximately 75 international, national, and 20-30 local performers. ECMC 2019 is hosted and sponsored by a Who’s Who of innovative local companies, including O’Connor Brewing, Percolator, and Homemadesoul Music. So far, ECMC 2019 has artists booked from four nations including the U.K. and Japan. The growth has been spurred by overwhelmingly positive response of first year attendees and the successes of 2018 artists, such as being added to Warped Tour and other major events, widespread national media coverage, and the signing of licensing and other deals from the conference.
Every conference promises opportunities to get ahead, but ECMC backs their claims up with evidence of success that no one can deny. Also, it’s the only conference on this list to feature Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman AND rap icon Ice-T in the lineup. If that’s not enough to make you want to attend, we don’t know what to tell you.
CD Baby’s DIY Musician Conference
When: August 16-18
Where: Austin, TX
Don’t let the name fool you. DIY Musician Conference has something to offer artists and aspiring professionals alike. The event itself is young, but the industry talent it attracts is seasoned. You will be face to face with movers and shakers of the industry who are still actively involved in shaping the business of music on a daily basis. You will also rub shoulders with peers who, like you, are ready to take their career to the next level.