This May, I attended The Great Escape in Brighton for the first time and it was an unforgettable experience. As Publishing and Sync Assistant at Anara Publishing and as an independent singer/songwriter myself, I saw the conference from two unique perspectives. If you’re thinking about attending The Great Escape next year, in this blog I will go through how it can be a beneficial event for an independent artist to attend.
How can it be beneficial for artists that aren’t performing?
Of course, performing at a festival provides many benefits to an artist. However, I want to focus on an artist that isn’t performing.
During my time working at Anara Publishing, I’ve been constantly reminded of the age old expression “it’s not what you know, it’s who you know”. Whether you like it or not, this couldn’t be more true for the music industry. Perhaps, more so than any other industry.
The Great Escape is well known for being the UK event in which the “who is who of the music industry” gathers to seek out new talent and discuss business. If you take yourself seriously as a performer, composer etc. then, you should be there promoting yourself. This industry is built so heavily on personal relationships, so start making them.
“How do I get my music heard by record labels/music publishers?”
Meet them in person and build a relationship. By no means will this guarantee success. But, they are far more likely to respond to your email when you’ve met them in person and discussed mutual interests. Make their memory of you a fond one. But don’t be too pushy. First introduce yourself and ask how they are, don’t go straight in with the business pitch and ambush them. Build a rapport and maybe exchange cards casually at the end of the conversation.
Don’t consider the exchange unsuccessful if you didn’t talk about music at all. As long as you made a connection and got their contact details, it was a great success. Now, you have what you need to follow up and perhaps arrange a meeting or call to discuss how you could work together.
More benefits of attending The Great Escape:
Networking in practise – You are thrown into the deep end really, but that is nothing to be afraid of. Everybody is in the same boat and they’re there to be social and meet new people. So, this is the perfect environment to put your networking skills to practise.
Expand your network – festivals and music conferences are one of the best opportunities available to make new connections and expand your network.
Potential Collaborators – Don’t be afraid to speak to artists after their performances. I was very surprised at how few people would go up and congratulate performers after their set! Everytime I did, the artists were incredibly approachable and happy to receive any sort of feedback. I even got a big hug from one band member as a thanks for my kind words! If you get on well with them and think that your music styles are compatible, ask if they would consider collaborating on some new music. It’s always good to connect with other artists to share experiences and advice. Plus, it can open up a number of opportunities such as tour shares, collaboration, etc.
My top tips for a successful conference…
Get The Great Escape app.
The Great Escape official app is an invaluable resource during the conference. You can discover the organised events and panels taking place, discover the lineup and receive reminders before an artists performance, get directions to each venue and more.
Go through the artist and delegate database beforehand, search for the people you’d like to meet, using key words such as their job role or company name, and contact them via email or TGE’s messaging system. Try to arrange meetings with the delegates you’ve identified beforehand. It’s not a good idea to just show up to the conference unprepared and hope to make useful contacts as you go along. Although this can happen, by planning ahead you greatly increase your chances of meeting the right people.
Research organised events such as panels and networking drinks and ask yourself what kind of people will be there? Would it be worth you attending? Also, ask people that you meet what they’re attending later and what they recommend.
I would certainly advise getting up early and making your presence known. But there is no denying that activity peaks at night, around 6pm onwards. At this time, the streets were full of yellow lanyards and The Great Escape wristbands and the live venues and bars were packed from wall to wall. Only stay up as late as you feel comfortable doing and try to ensure that you get enough sleep, so that you’re fresh and well rested for the next day.
This is applicable to many aspects of the conference. I would recommend picking up your wristband/delegate pass on the Wednesday night before most people arrive, on Thursday. More importantly, if there is an artist that you really hope to see, get there at least 15 minutes early. Especially on the Friday and Saturday, I was running from gig to gig having to queue in the streets because the venues had reached full capacity. You can avoid this by planning ahead and getting to the venues early. If you have a packed calendar before you arrive, be ready to compromise and miss a few performances. Sometimes it’s just not possible for one person to cover all of that ground.
On the whole, independent artists need to attend conferences and festivals such as The Great Escape to get their name and music out there to the people with the power to take your career to the next level. Who better to represent yourself than you?