IHM News

IHM Road Tips Vol. 3 – Music Conferences: A Direct Route to the Industry

Posted By : IHM, Posted On : July 23, 2013

The following blog post assumes you have great music and a solid live show before hitting the road. Not sure? Contact Bram, head of IHM Artist Relations & Support about a show evaluation,, on twitter @bram_rocks or call 877.994.6446 xt. 2.

Music Conference Showcases

So you successfully went on your first tour and documented your music sales from your live shows. As you reflect upon where you are as an artist / imagine where you want to be and start planning your next steps, consider getting on a bill at a music conference showcase like SXSW or CMJ as part of your plan.  After all, with so many fans, bands and industry members converging in one place, showcases present a unique opportunity to grow your network and reach new audiences.

We at IHM broke down the application process into two parts – first, building an electronic press kit (EPK) that stands out amongst thousands of applicants and impress showcase bookers. And secondly, we present a few of the top showcases for artists to apply to.  

Build an Exceptional EPK

Music is the most important factor, followed by a coherent picture of where you are in your career. If we like the music, but it looks like you’ve only played one show, at your cousin Randy’s Phoenix garage, we’ll probably wait until you’ve had a chance to build some better awarenessMatt MacDonald, CMJ Showcase booker

According to the quote above (and we agree), music is the number one factor when booking a showcase, followed by your music resume.  The EPK is your music resume; it includes a brief biography, high resolution pictures, music and video samples, press reviews, tour dates, and contact information. You must tell your music story in as compelling a manner as possible through a combination of images, sounds, and words (you can find plenty of tips online to build a standout EPK). While putting together a resume sounds like a chore, you must be able to distinguish yourself through those components, especially if you are applying to a competitive showcase like SXSW or CMJ. CMJ head booker Matt McDonald estimates that he listens to over 6,000 bands to book 1,400 spots for his fall festival.

McDonald and his team start by listening to songs from the artist EPK (you can embed streaming links and provide download options through Soundcloud or Bandcamp). And while it is important that your music is of a high quality, that is not the only factor in being accepted into a showcase.

Once you pass the music test, McDonald and his team look at your touring history. Your resume must show that you can rock a crowd. After all, a showcase is still about the bottom line and if no one show up to your performance, it doesn’t benefit the showcase or your career (here’s an example of a group with an extensive tour history). Go one step further and document your sales by reporting your music sales for every live show showcase bookers your sales history with your audience. Put Youtube links to live performances videos in your EPK, even if it is taken with a low quality smartphone. Proving you can engage an audience can make or break your application.

Companies like Sonicbids,  Reverbnation and ArtisteCard can help build your EPK, but keep in mind that this EPK is specifically built to get you into specific music showcases. Ask yourself – if you were in charge of a showcase, and had to comb through several thousand submissions, would yours stand out somehow?

Applying for the Right Showcase

It’s better to go to one high end conference than several low end ones – Moses Avalon, author of 100 Answers to 50 Questions on the Music Business

First, a note: larger showcases like SXSW and CMJ use Sonicbids to go through EPK submissions, so a word of advice: get familiar with uploading and applying through Sonicbids.

When applying to a showcase, take into account the genre, attendance numbers, and reputation, as well as practical considerations like how much you are willing to invest in travel and lodging expenses. Here are several showcases with upcoming deadlines:

Boston Calling Music FestivalSeptember 7-8, 2013, Boston. Application fee: $10. Attendance: 10,000-50,000. Deadline: August 1st.

Access Film Music ShowcaseJanuary 15th – 26th, 2014, Park City, Utah. This is an industry showcase for music and film licensing that takes place during Sundance Film Festival. Application fee: $10. Deadline: September 1st.

SXSW – March 11-16th, 2014, Austin, Texas.  Over 100,000 attendees, and 2200 official acts. Application fees are $33 for the early bird, and are taken up until October 11th, 2013.

MIDEM – February 1-4, 2014, Cannes. Billed as the “leading international business event for the music ecosystem”. The 2013 event was attended by 6400 people, 450 artists, Upload your press kit here.

A3C Hip Hop Festival – October 2-5, 2013, Atlanta, GA. Attendance: 10,000-50,000. Application fee: $15. Deadline: September 6th

CollegeFest – October 12-13, 2013. Attendance: 10,000-50,000. Application fee: $10. Deadline: September 6th

Noise Pop Festival – Feb 25-March 2, 2014. Attendance: 10,000-50,000. Application fee: $10. Deadline January 3rd, 2014

International Music Conference – September 18-20, 2013, Atlanta, GA. Submit music here.

Driven Music Conference – September 26-29, 2013, Atlanta, GA. Submit music here.

Cutting Edge – September 26-28, 2013, New Orleans, LA. Submit music here.

Find more conferences here:

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