„Michael Leahy is a platinum lyricist that first attended Midem in 1997 tying to pimp digital services to labels. He has since done business development for African labels, marketing for Midem itself and pitched projects at the Cannes Film Festival. He has also coached music and movie people in the fine art of networking. He wrote the Cannes Starter Guide last year as a mind-map for getting results at Midem.”
Making contacts at Midem (or any other event for that matter)
We attend trade fairs basically for two reasons: to meet people and get industry news that will give us an edge. That’s it. Everything else is an add-on. If you think you are not doing enough business, then get out and meet more people. Business comes through people (which is also basically why I hang out on Music2Deal – I still have a great Spanish song to offer if you know someone that needs one).
So how do you go about this in the context of a trade fair? At a basic level, there are three ways of doing business at trade fairs: through people you know; people you know about; and people you don’t even know exist.
- Trade fairs offer exceptional opportunities to catch up with people you know or might have known. Be sure to let them know you are attending. Has your contact gone cold? This is an opportunity to warm it up a little. That guy you knew that used to book bands in a youth club might be the brand manager of Shure microphones by now, or Luc Besson’s music supervisor. You’ll find that telling them you are attending Midem will make them curious. You might be able to get a meeting with people that are not even attending!
- Everyone knows the names of a few key players in their field. Trade fairs offer an opportunity to reach out to them. Just make sure you do your homework before contacting the head of Universal Publishing. Run their name through Google News. Check their latest job title on LinkedIn. These things are not difficult to do. Then tailor your message to what they are doing right now. Don’t waste their time. Be courteous and get to the point.
- There are literally thousands of people that you don’t even know exist doing good business in small niches or territories you had not initially thought about. This is particularly true since the arrival of the digital economy where extra services or apps can create exciting new products. Last year, I saw some sensational new tools for generating income on YouTube and improving merchandising sales at concerts.
So much for the principles. How do you go about grabbing appointments?
- Set up your profile in the event database. Very important: specifically mention the key reasons you are attending and who you are looking to contact. Be very clear about this. Some databases now run match-making services that will suggest targeted leads for you. The clearer you are, the better the results. Tip: check and double-check all your e-mail and contact info in the database to ensure it is correct. A guesstimate is that about 5-10% of e-mail addresses or web links don’t actually work. Add all the photos and samples you possible can. Take those extra 10 minutes to present yourself completely. Unless you work for Universal, do not expect people in another country to know what you do. Also, resist the temptation to tick all the boxes in the database. A one-man company without an ID photo that claims to be a DJ/label/music supervisor/distributor/manager/artist is not credible and will be ignored. Sorry.
- Set up meetings with key people you want to meet at the show. Mine the event database to set up meetings, over and over again. Prioritise. Start by trying to reach key people in key territories, and then work your way down. Keep at it. Tailor each message to each individual. But also leave room for people that might contact you. Are there any media people, show organizers, current or prospective suppliers or perspective employees you want to hook up with? When it comes to actually meeting, would a meeting or a coffee be more appropriate? If you are lucky, you might find yourself booked from 8.30am to 10.30pm. If so, try and group the meetings in the same areas so you don’t have to run from one end of the building to another. Boring tips? Sure: drink lots of water and take lots of notes. You’ll have a hard time remembering what you said ten days from now.
Hopefully, this will bring you your first appointments. As the pre-event e-mails start rolling in from Midem, check them to see if anyone they mention could be useful to you. Then dip into the database to try and set up an appointment.
In the next article, I’ll go over how to pitch and handle yourself in one-on-one meetings. So drop by the Music2Deal blog next week.
As a reminder:
Cannes Starter Guide: http://amzn.to/1C4H07H
Midem 2015 Cheat Sheet: http://amzn.to/1DUCGp8
Cannes or Bust: First time in Cannes http://cannes-or-bust.com/first-time-in-cannes/