Commentary | Are talent showcases and conferences worth the cost, all the time? No buddy.
So, once they get an invitation to a conference or event, you feel like you got a golden ticket from Willy Wonka himself. You now begin posting statuses and telling everyone that you are going to this event and will be seen by “major labels” and “headed to the top.” Lies.
Every time I see or hear of this, I want to tell the artist to look closer at the decision to enter into the competition or go to the event. Can you afford to travel and miss your 9 to 5 job to go to a conference or enter into a competition that shows no return? Does the registration fee include publicity in a conference booklet or web advertising? Will the money spent on traveling introduce you to others in the industry that are not accessible via Facebook?
These are questions that artists should ask before entering into competitions or performing at conferences primarily for “exposure.”
Is it worth it all of the time? My answer is: no.
Can you pay Alabama Power , Exxon or Hilton Americas with “exposure.” No, Sorry.
Many artists can barely afford to pull off their annual concert or big event. They must fundraise to build bank enough to bring in a guest artist or to pay for the basic needs to pull off a professional concert.
Is paying $3500 in traveling expenses worth performing at a conference event that will many times only consist of maybe 300 irrelevant people in music that just paid $10 to see a show before the buffet opens in their hotel?
My suggestion to an artist would be to take the money that would be used for traveling and invest it in a demo project or advertise an old project or booking opportunities on music blogs/radio/print.
Advertising these days is cheaper than most people think. You could split $1,000 amongst some of the top “underground” music blogs and reach 1 million people or spend $1,000-$3,500 to perform in front of 300 and sell 20 CDs.
It’s all about being in the right place at the right time but it’s also about taking time in planning, praying and not rushing into the first thing that sounds good.
There’s an awesome example of this foolishness in action. There is a prominent gospel music label that held an “Artist Showcase” that allowed vocalists, groups and choirs to submit an original recording. If you were selected you received a packet that included a registration contract.
In this semi-finalist packet you had to pay a registration fee, pay a fee for them hosting your music on their site and also pay travel expenses to sing in the semi-finalist showcase. If you won, you had to pay again for your own traveling expenses as a finalist. (cough) Stupid.
This sounded like a good opportunity but to this day no one knows who the winner of that showcase is. (cough) Thieves.
The group I was doing publicity for decided to decline the offer while others sent their money hoping to be heard. I remember sending out press releases, using the semi-finalist title to our advantage and creating online buzz about the group for free.
My question is this; if you have the funds to spend on traveling and registration fees, do you not also have the money to pay a public relations company to handle your marketing/promotions and get the word out about your product or talent? You can also hire a real manager if you can afford these costs. The guidance and contacts that public relations industry professionals have places you in the right place, at the possible right time.
Showcases, competitions and out of town travels are great for exposure, fellowshipping and educating youth but I say conquer your hometown church circuit first, and then expand from there.
This information goes for artists in any genre and of any talent.
In the words of Booker T. Washington, “Cast down your bucket where you are.”
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