No matter if this is your first time attending or your 10th – there will be lots of offerings to fill your cup, and with a little preparation you can expect to learn something new, hear/play some amazing music and make connections that can last a lifetime.
It’s taken me a few times attending several conferences to figure out what my purpose for being there was.  At first I thought it was simply to get that gig. Then I’d go home, scratch my head and wonder why I didn’t get booked at The Ark or get signed by Red House Records.  I love having fun and staying up late with friends, and that is a great part of our folk scene, but this is a business conference too.
There’s a lot to do at FARM this year, so you’ll want to have a plan to help balance it out before you arrive at the conference.  It will make it easier to navigate through the day and night activities.
The first place to start preparing is www.farmfolk.org.
  • The FARM schedule — An awesome lineup of showcases, speakers and workshops.
  • Registrants List  This is the best way to see who will be there and who you might want to network with at the conference. Identify people that you would like to meet and that you think would be a good fit for what you do and then introduce yourself.
  • New This Year —Go to farmfolk.org and choose “Private showcasing at FARM” to see every private showcase. You can chose to view by each individual private showcase room, each artist, or by date and time. You can also download schedules to your smart phone.
  • Venue and Folk DJ Reception — A mix and mingle where you can network with DJ’s and Venues. Bring CD’s, business cards and showcase schedules to share.
  • And so much more…
Here’s some information that I have found helpful.
  • Artists/Showcase Hosts —  Print a showcase schedule to share. Ideally, something small that can be put in a pocket (think postcard size.) Flyers are good to put in selected/approved areas, too. Personally, I have steered away from printing a lot of paper that ends up in the trash bin.
  • Presenters/DJ/Venues/Artists — Business cards are a good way to share contact info, especially if a CD or other media is exchanged.
  • Meals —Try sitting next to someone you don’t know. It’s one of the most valuable and easiest ways to network.
  • Take notes —Having a note pad and pen ready for post showcase conversations and networking is a must.
  • Rest — Be sure to take care of yourself. A little quiet time or a nap can go a long way in maintaining your stamina throughout the conference.
One of the best aspects about FARM is the laid back atmosphere that a regional conference can offer. Folk Alliance International (with over 2000 registrants) can be overwhelming and difficult to make connections. I’ve found FARM to be an intimate, comfortable experience. You’ll be able to connect and catch up with old friends and make new ones all while doing business! I always feel rejuvenated after attending and feel that FARM embodies what the folk community is all about.
Have fun and play your hearts out!
Rj Cowdery
singing songwriter