Sound Advice (First Timer or not)

If this is your first conference of any kind, we’d like to share some wise advice from conference veteran,  Zoe Mulford (who also happens to be one of our 2011 Showcase Artists). This is taken from a post on the NERFA listserv and is reprinted here with her permission. Incidentally, if this is your first FARM, but not your first Folk Alliance regional conference, you probably already have a good idea of what to expect in general but we think Zoe’s comments are worth revisiting – over and over again.

Zoe sez:

Other artists are not the competition. They are potential allies.

Convince yourself of that and you will have a happier and more productive weekend. Most of the benefits I’ve gotten from {Conference} have been from connecting with other artists.

It’s a mistake to think about {Conference} as being divided into “talent buyers” and “talent sellers”.  A lot of the people who are there as presenters or dj’s are also musicians and you may well connect with them in a jam circle. A lot of the people who are there to promote their own music also set up concerts, write reviews, screen song contest entries, volunteer at festivals, etc. They’re also recording engineers, graphic artists, photographers, publicists, luthiers, and teachers. Everyone is worth talking to.

If you are there as an artist, YOU are also a talent buyer. You’ll be in a hotel packed to the rafters with excellent musicians. Who would you like to be on stage with? Who would you like to open for? Who would you like to open for you? Who would you record with, write with, form a band with? Who would you recommend to your local presenters?

Look for the people you would camp with at a festival, swap gigs with, carpool with, room with at next year’s conference, invite to sleep on your sofa.

So prepare your materials, plan your schedule, practice your elevator speech, print your business card … and then stop worrying. Come and be a musician.”

Other general thoughts.

Without a doubt, a first ever conference experience can be extremely overwhelming and intimidating. The perceived pressure to maximize your investment, make something happen, get results, book a gig, self promote, etc… is palpable.

Our volunteer staff is always front-loaded with FARM veterans who are on hand to answer questions, point you in the right direction and offer a hug (whether you want it or not).

We’ve heard from a number of first-timers who find FARM to be easy and comfortable while still having much to offer music professionals who wish to connect with fellow artists, DJs, venues and promoters in the Midwest.

We’ve worked hard to create a productive environment for networking, career building and going about the business of making and buying music. In that way, each of the regional conferences, are a great introduction to the larger International Folk Alliance conference.

But let’s not forget the shear bliss of being surrounded by like-minded folks, participating in impromptu song swaps and jams, being inspired by performances from your peers and ultimately making lots of new friends.