Another calendar month has rolled over so it means another music festival is hitting Toronto... and my Facebook feed is now flooded with "showcases" and event invites.
As far as giving bands exposure goes, I think these festivals for the most part are pretty overrated. Even if you kick ass this week(end), you're forgotten about soon after... because the focus soon shifts to the next one. If you're lucky, you've made a couple more core fans but it's not often... especially if you weren't playing before a band people already know and really wanted to see.
I could kick quite a bit of dirt on these festivals if you're in a band and thinking it'll help get you some attention... but here's some advice I typically pass on to help people make the most of their weekend.
1. Don't be upset if you applied and didn't get in.
Why? Because you want your evenings free to roam the venues. Plus, if you've been around long enough, you realize how you can apply 6 years, then not apply on your 7th and get in because you know someone who was putting a lineup together. In most cases in this business, that's the pecking order. Sure you can line up and wait your turn, or you can try and get to know the doorman and slip them a $20... or lunch.
2. Don't carry around CD's you plan to give to industry.
Why? How many CD's does someone want to carry around when the average music fan has shown (through sales of discmans) the number of CD's they want to carry around for fun is 0. If someone asks for a CD, you either have your merch setup because you played, or they're drunk. Actually, chances are if industry wants your CD, they just want to see if you have your shit together... see if it looks professional or not. If they really want to hear your band, they'll be Googling you. It sounds dirty and invasive because it is.
3. Make sure your online presence is up to date.
Why? Read above. Anybody who wants to hear more about your band has already searched you... possibly while you're playing or just after your set.
4. Try to avoid playing Thursday, Friday, or Saturday.
Why? Because you probably aren't getting paid to play, and the bands that are getting paid are where everyone is going to be. In my opinion that's where you want to be too.
5. Spend your time watching the best bands... even if they're just hype bands.
Why? Because you need to see what they're doing that you aren't. Not just one stage but their merch, how they get on/off the stage, how their gear looks. Take notes on everything! All of that comes from experience and probably a big part of why they got a great slot and a great crowd.
Will a performance at a music festival help make them a household name? Probably not... but this is an actual showcase. The hype is there, they have to deliver. I'd rather be watching that band and taking notes than playing 9pm Saturday night at Neutral... to 6 people.
6. Go to the conference if you aren't sure what to do.
Why? Because it's a good place to start if you really aren't sure what's going on these days or in the near future. Often the price of admission is a line in the sand. Most bands simply won't spend (invest) the money. If you do, people take notice... mind you lost of bands flush money down the toilet but at least they're trying.
Enjoy your CMW weekend! Hopefully the weather holds up!
P.S. I'm glad I caught Little Dragon @ Lee's Palace a few years ago... I discovered Neon Indian from that show too since they played before. Little Dragon is back this year... $35 @ Kool Haus.
Mike Langford - Official Blog
Being on both sides of the glass, I get the chance to wear many hats in the music industry. This is a place to share my thoughts, views, predictions, rants, stories and news!