Submitted by Peter Astedt
Showcases are popping up like mushrooms in the world. I think I wrote about the subject a year ago and said that each country now has its own showcase festival. I correct that most countries now have three or four showcase festivals. In the end, they are too many, like I said on a panel on one of them recently and people gasp.
There are definitely too many of them and with this many, you can as an artist start to pick the ones that are needed for your career.
The biggest ones are kind of useless. Right now, there are big debates along most export offices and people that know a lot about showcasing that the big ones never get you the band for the buck. We already see that many of the bigger networks, and bigger people in the industry are not coming around to the big events since they are mainly a waste of time. What is a bigger showcase you ask me? There is an easy way though to evaluate. If the showcase has more than a hundred artists, it’s too big. When you have that many artists you will have at least ten gig places that go against each other. You as an artist will compete with at least ten artists playing at the same time. Here you go with the more artist the bigger problem to get the right people to take time to get down to see your show.
Don’t think the smallest ones are better. Here you get a problem getting in. If the festival has less than twenty acts main part of the acts will be put on for political reasons like they are from the same city, same record label, or export organization. They might have an open process for you to apply but that is mainly to be able to get funding. This makes the festival live quality sink, and many professionals will not attend. You probably look for a festival that has between 30 to 70 artists not more or less.
Curation is also a good way to find out what kind of festival it is. If the festival has a system where you can suggest panels and then vote them in, just avoid those festivals. That is a certain sign that the panels are not curated and will just be a bunch of friends telling their thing on the panels. Panels have to be curated by someone to make them dynamic. Look then at the topics of the festival. Is it topics that are very political or very futuristic? Then you should also drop your applications. Political usually means they get too many people from political organizations that usually can’t do anything for an artist and usually don’t really have any global info just local. If it’s too futuristic then you just will have panels talking about future stuff that are in their imaginations, no one really knows what they future will look like. Also, in curation look if there are good topics, not just the usual stuff or the same topics that go around everywhere.
Then look at who is speaking. If the main part of the speakers comes from the country where the festival takes place, it’s not good. This will make the festival just a local thing. Not even if you want to meet local industry people it’s good. Today’s global industry is more or less taking out the local people. You want to meet the global players, not the local ones.
Then look if there are just dinosaurs. It’s ok to have a keynote or panel around the music industry’s glory days. But when you need to borrow a dinosaur book from the library to see the Stegosaurushasbeen or the Lambeosaurusoutofwork and the famous Tyrannosaurusyesterdaysnews on every panel. Together with lame subjects then you have an excellent reason not to go. These are usually also run by a dinosaur, so they mainly keep their friends on the panels. Here you also see that they have a lot of CEO speakers. You will never have any use of a CEO of a big digital company, they can never do anything for a single artist, they just work to put artists into lars quantity boxes.
It’s not easy to choose this festival I will assure you. You will get a lot of people that haven’t been around lately telling you still the big ones are the best. You will also get some stupid people telling you that showcases are not good at all.
The truth is in the middle. You need a middle-sized festival that still picks in fresh artists outside their network. A festival that has good spears that do something for you as an artist and your career.