By Jeri Goldstein
Booking conferences seem to be cropping up in every state during all times of the year. Here are some tips on how to prepare for and present a successful showcase at a booking conference.

4 Key Elements to Promoting Your Showcase:

1. It is important to make yourself stand out in some unique way: Ask yourself, "What is unique about my act?" Emphasize that aspect in all of your promotional material, during the show and after the show with every follow-up contact.

2. Create and implement an advance promotion campaign:

a. Use any advance attendee lists available to you to send e-mail or printed invitations to your showcase to those you want to know about the act—to promoters, agents, managers, labels, media. Make pre-conference phone calls to personally invite specific people.

b. Contact local media in the conference town and pitch them a story—you'll need a hook to attract local media, can you find one?

Pre-conference contact is so important if you are trying to create interest prior to everyone's arrival at the conference site. Once people arrive, there will be an inundation of flyers and promotional materials for every act's event. Concentrate your efforts on setting up meetings and issuing personal invitation prior to the conference.

3. Promotion campaign at the event:

a. Check over the official conference attendee list. Identify people who you have previously contacted and those who are new in the official list.

b. Create attractive flyers to post in designated areas around the conference. There will be thousands of similar flyers so make sure yours is graphically attractive and readable from a distance.

c. If there is a major event that most conference goers will attend, check for permission to place table tents on tables or seats promoting your showcase. So many acts will be attempting similar promotion campaigns so that the information about showcasing events begins to become diluted.

d. It is important to make personal contact, hand each person a clever, uniquely designed, invitation/reminder of your showcase. Find a promotional item that is different from the general flyer or paper sign. At one conference, an artist had a remote control blimp with his name on the sides. He floated the balloon over the heads of the attendees as they gathered in lounges, bars, dining areas, and other general meeting places. Be creative—competition is fierce!

Your Showcase:

8 Key Factors for a Successful Showcase:

1. Know exactly how long your set can be. Some conferences allot very short times, like 15 or 20 minutes—some give you 45 or 60 minutes.

2. Plan to perform material that is the most familiar to you. This is not the time to try new material or take chances. Be impressive!

3. Time your set, music, and talk.

4. Rehearse your set until it is second nature.

5. If you are offered a sound check, take it and use every minute to make sound and lights work for you. When you are using a sound company provided by the conference, find out contact names prior to the event and forward all sound and light plots ahead of time. Contact the engineer and review your specific sound requirements. Know what will be provided and what you must bring to avoid surprises when you arrive. In situations when you are able to provide your own sound, arrive in plenty of time to set up and sound check.

6. With so many acts rotating on and off stage, sometimes things don't go as planned. Be solid in your performance, stay cool, and do the best show, even if the sound and lights go bad. The audience appreciates that and sympathizes and such situations can often work in your favor when you remain in control.

7. You never know who might be in the audience, no matter how many people show up to your showcase. Do your best performance.

8. Finally, if there is a chance to meet people after the showcase, get out there and shake some hands, have plenty of cards ready or offer promotional packets or CDs if you have them.

Having a successful showcase can be a major career boost. Showcases and conference events require consistent follow-up with contacts you made during the conference. The impact made may not be realized right away. If you don't come away with the deal you were hoping for or get the number of dates you were planning, don't be discouraged. Keep in touch with those you met after the conference is over. Some connections may take a number of years to see the results you are after.

For those of you who are ready to take a serious step toward the next level in your career, attending and showcasing at appropriate conferences could be the boost you were seeking. Good luck.



Jeri Goldstein is the author of, How To Be Your Own Booking Agent The Musician's & Performing Artist's Guide To Successful Touring 2nd Edition UPDATED. She had been an agent and artist's manager for 20 years. Currently she consults with artists, agents, and managers through her consultation program Manager-In-A-Box and presents The Performing Biz, seminars and workshops at conferences, universities, for arts councils and to organizations. Information about her other programs are available at www.performingbiz.com or phone (434) 591-1335 or e-mail Jeri at jg@performingbiz.com.

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