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

Call To Mobilize

Allen_20JohnstonArticle by Allen L.  Johnston – The Music Specialist

This year I came to a drastic realization that American Urban based artists, publishers, producers; writers, film makers, label owners, magazine owners and entertainment industry entrepreneurs are wholly under rated and under represented on the world market place. During one of my daily walks around the MIDEM convention exhibition area, I ventured in to the Electronic / Urban Village at Midem.  The name suggested that here would be a place where various types of Electronic and Urban based musical products and opportunities would be found. A place where companies from around the world could come and find music, DVD’s, film, magazines and digital deals from the best Urban and Electronic makers in the world. Feeling that the Urban marketplace should be over flowing with product by and about people of color I went looking for the best in the world

What I saw was several different spaces occupied by every nationality BUT people of color.  Blatantly missing were American Hip Hop, R&B, Southern Soul, Blues, Jazz and Gospel companies.  In fact I saw NO REPRESENTATION at all from any Black or Hispanic owned company from the United States in this area.  At least 50% of all the music I saw, and heard during MIDEM came from people of color world wide, but there was less than 5% participation from African Americans conference wide and less than 1% booth participation.  The only Hip Hop artist of any notoriety that I saw making meetings and doing deals was Chuck D, and he brought a group of business people with him as a support factor. American Hip Hop has made major influence around the world I saw Death Row Records from Germany and even though South Africa has licensed Little John’s music thru TVT there was not another Atlanta based rapper or representative at the conference.

Countries from around the world were looking for music and DVD products from American based “Urban” companies yet there were virtually none to be found. The Japanese, South Africans, French, Belgium, Swedes and every English speaking country are all looking for American Hip Hop, Jazz, Gospel, Southern Soul and Reggae, but once again there were NO representatives of any of the major artists nor any revenue generating INDEPENDENT  COMPANIES available that I saw or heard of.

This has to stop now especially while there is a window open for such great financial and cultural reward.

So I am making the first call to mobilize the American Urban based artists, publishers, producers, writers, film makers, label owners, magazine owners and entertainment industry entrepreneurs.  I have started talking with different companies and organizations to acquire a cadre of African American owned entertainment businesses that will be able to represent their products and make deals on an International basis for MIDEM 2014.

Please take a moment and look at your long range goals, if they include a digital market or an International market lets find some time to talk.  Plan your work THEN work your plan.