English · Tips

Conference Do’s & Don’ts


Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

Music Conferences today have become big business for the individuals and companies that put them on.  Almost every conference created has an educational component, a seminar, panel discussion or technical workshop. Here lays the problem, why pay good money to come to a conference with positive seminars and not attend?  Every conference I have attended in the United States this year has had more night time attendees for parties and performances than daytime seminar attendees.

In Europe it is the complete opposite.  Conference attendees come for business during the day in droves.  Panels are packed and private meetings are scheduled.   Let me give you a few ideas on how to become more productive at your next conference.

Rules To Work Conferences

  1. Research Your Conference – Know who is going to be at the event you will be attending.  Read the Schedule in advance and determine who you want to meet and WHY you want to meet them.
  1. Schedule Meetings – Try and reach companies, executives, publicists and other artists prior to the event and schedule private meeting times to discuss your MUTUAL interests.  Email works when used properly for communication, so Please spell correctly.
  1. Speak Correctly – Leave the urban street based conversations at home.  This is a business and professionals will be attending and speaking on the seminars.  Lose the phrase “You know what I mean?” and the phrase “You feel me?”  Say what you mean upfront and be prepared to explain yourself.  The way you speak in the “trap” is not going to get you anywhere in the entertainment BUSINESS environment.
  1. Take a Shower – Partying the night before is NOT an excuse to have bad breath or body odor.  Make the effort to bathe BEFORE you come to the seminar.  You never know who you will be standing next to.  By the way dousing yourself in perfume or cologne is NOT bathing.
  1. Be on Time, awake, attentive and prepared – Walking into seminar fashionably late shows disrespect for the other attendees and to the seminar speakers.  It also says that maybe a professional does not want to work with you because you didn’t think enough of their time to hear them from the very beginning.
  1. Take notes – Just like you were back in school.  This is how you remember some of the information that will be disseminated.  Plus this is how you can keep names and numbers straight, while you write down any questions you may have.
  1. Have Business Cards Available – name, email, website, phone number, mailing address and a representation of what you do. (logo, business name, etc)
  1. Receive Business Cards – When you give a card, receive a card.  Take the card in both of your hands if possible; read it before you put it away.  This business card is the beginning of your entertainment industry database, treat it with esteem.
  1. Carry a Camera – Take photos of the panelists to help you remember who was who.  And take as many photos with other people as you can.  Email them back to the person and use this as a starting point for a great business relationship.
  1. Be Polite and Courteous – You want and need to advance your career, the worst thing you can do is to disrespect and upset a professional.  This means NOT telling a DJ off for not playing your music.  DJ’s TALK TO EACH OTHER and so do distributors, store buyers, publicists, record exec’s, club owners and almost everyone else that is a professional.
  1. Follow Up – email, telephone, regular mail and do ALL of these things consistently.  It is true that the squeaky wheel gets the oil.
  1. Have An Online Presentation – FaceBook is good for starters however you do need your own website that allows viewers to find out more about you and your talent.  You should also create MP3’s of your material for sending and for downloading.  If you have a visual talent, create video for web usage.

English · This & That

Cellphones, Education And You

Allen_20Johnston    Allen Johnston – The Music Specialist

Traveling internationally has opened my eyes and mind to the opportunities available for people of color worldwide.  In particular are the opportunities available for African-American musicians and multi-media creators worldwide. What I have found is that EVEYONE aspires to have the American notoriety and success that is witnessed in the magazines, movies, and videos worldwide.  People want to “BE LIKE MIKE” worldwide and Mike is the African-American celebrity.

As you know I am a proponent of education and I truly believe that African-Americans have a commitment to help educate and protect Africans worldwide. Let’s talk about the state of the Black music business within the United Sates today. Discretionary income controlled by African-Americans rose to more than $20 billon last year.  Even though this seems like a humongous amount of money it pales in comparison to the fact that Shell Oil posted profits in the UK alone of 13.6 Billion Pounds or $30 Billion dollars this year.  This is only one company in one country that significantly affects people of color worldwide.

Believe that this 30 Billion dollar profit will not be used to educate or protect people worldwide.  So the question to me becomes how we can effectively affect the education of people of color worldwide.  One way is the creation of music and multi-media projects that contain “Old-School” Values and Morals, never using filthy language, sexually based & tasteless innuendoes, sharp, ruthless or condemnatory statements or nonsense verbiage.  But having a message or under current that causes renewed thought, interest, incite or unrest within the hearts & souls of its listeners!

Accessibility and affordability are the key factors in being able to reach large masses of people worldwide.  The Internet is the medium of choice and opportunity to accomplish these goals.  For the developing world the Internet is going to be a wireless experience and delivery will be over cell phones.  Sixty one percent (61%) of the world’s 2.7 billion mobile phone users are in developing countries compared with ten percent (10%) of the world’s 1 billion Internet users.  This information is based on the International Telecommunication Union’s Regulatory and Market Environment Division head Susan Schorr’s report.  Africa accounts for more than half of the world’s poorest countries with people using low-cost cell phones rather than PC’s for connectivity.

India has a cell phone subscriber ship of over 226 million about nineteen percent (19%) of its total population with about 7 million new subscribers a month.  This is creating a decline in the cost of cell phone manufacturing making them more affordable and also creating unbundled services lowering the costs of phone service.   Approximately eighty five percent (85%) of all Indian cell phone contracts are prepaid, while in Africa shared cell phone services are taking off.

The Grameen Foundation has brought the Village Phone model to Africa.  People wanting to become stand alone mobile phone operators can take out micro loans, letting them buy Village Phone kits that include a cell phone, a rooftop antenna that picks up signals 25 kilometers away and a car battery or solar panel for recharging.  They setup shop in their homes, selling phone calls and mobile data transfer to other villagers.  Ultimately allowing the world to invade the “outback” and the opportunity to place information directly with the people that need it the most.

Cellphone based Internet delivery bypasses the governmental media controls and is a viable alternative information source.  Just recently there was great unrest in Kenya and the Kenyan government imposed a blackout of ALL news sources.  Resourceful Kenyans started text messaging information to the Mashada website and got the world to see the problems while being able to maintain contact with different villages and families.

As a producer, writer, musician, film maker, artist or educator this now opens up an entirely new avenue to get your projects, products and ideas to an interested world market.   Cellphones and other wireless devices will continue to get more people connected to the Internet or at least give them access to a wealth of information, knowledge and communications capabilities that previously were out of reach.

The only thing missing is you and what you have to share with the world.