Every year there is a new hot button issue in the music industry and there are professionals speaking about it. With everything more digital-focused in 2019 and beyond it is important to balance that with in-person networking and community-driven music business education. The best way to achieve this is to pick a conference or two and show face. Build relationships with attendees and speakers alike and continue to build your network in the music industry. The problem is there are so many conferences popping up without much deference to actual quality, focus and expertise. Regardless, there are great conferences across the world that are great for networking and you can combine a couple of them to get an all-round immersive experience.
These are my go-to music business conferences for a mix of education, conversation, entertainment, networking, and development.
CD BABY’S DIY Musician Conference
Location: New Location
CD Baby is an important tool for artists who do it on there own. Their conference is no different. The conference is really focused on education. Not only because of stories from panelists but also sessions that show you how to improve your situation in the Music Business.
The conference takes a deep dive into methods that will help you:
Book more and better gigs
Target new fans online
Establish a career without playing live
Build an email list that makes you money
Get the most from your videos
Dial in your artist “brand”
Unlike the other conferences, this conference is focused on helping independent artists monetize and grow their fan bases across a multitude of disciplines.
Date: Late Fall — October 28–29, 2019
Location: Los Angeles
If you follow me on any platform you know I am a big proponent of any person looking to get into the entertainment industry learning how technology drives the business. At this conference, there is always a reputable panel of industry leaders and forward thinkers in the music and tech space while still keeping the content focused. This year’s conference focused a lot on Blockchain and AI which are must follows as the industry evolves. Music + Tech = The Future. This conference is one to put on the calendar for next year.
Date: 2–5 June 2020
Location: Palais des Festivals, Cannes, France
In my humble opinion, this is the best music business conference in the world. Amazing Location (Check). Power-packed Discussions (Check). Top-Notch Experience (Check). Midem is dedicated to helping the music industry and its partners develop business and creativity by bringing together the key players of the music ecosystem over four days in Cannes.
The festival is for literally everyone in the space:
Artists • Labels • Managers • Publishers • Distributors • Streaming services • Rights collecting societies • High-tech companies • Startups
• Brands • Communication agencies • Booking agencies • Promoters
Not only that, they just have the right eye for who the people want to hear from in regards to Keynote Speakers and Panel Discussions. Last year Troy Carter had a phenomenal Keynote conversation with Cherie Hu on distribution.
If that isn’t good enough for you, the idea of going to Cannes, France should seal the deal.
Music Biz 2020
Date: May 11–14th, 2020
Location: Nashville, Tenn
Music Biz 2020, is powered by the Music Business Association which is a membership organization that unites players from the content, commerce, and creative segments of the industry into a collective voice to promote overall growth throughout the music business.
The conference unites leaders from the global commerce, content and creative communities in Nashville to discuss the future of the music business and build relationships that will steer the industry for years to come.
Music Biz is a conference that is serious and educational. A lot of conferences focus on entertainment, Music Biz focuses on the content and bringing in the right music business leaders who have something to say. In regards to providing an across the board educational and networking experience, this conference is for you if you have a serious want to learn in the music business. The Music Business Association truly has the membership and capacity to provide the experience year after year.
Date: October 2020
Location: Atlanta, Ga
Atlanta has undoubtedly proven to be one of the most important places in the music business because of its dominance in Hip-Hop and R&B which in 2019 qualifies as popular music. A3C is more than a business conference as it obviously has the entertainment and performance element but its uniqueness is in the keynote speakers and panel discussion that seemingly make headlines every year.
Nothing brings the music community together in Atlanta like A3C. Additionally, the speakers are cross-generational and have a creative element as well as a business function. The festival prides itself on connecting, educating and inspiring the next generation of innovators and entrepreneurs shaping the future. It does a great job of such.
For culture, entertainment and education inside the music business and entertainment industry as a whole, this festival is at the top.
Date: March 13–22, 2019
Location: Austin, Tx
If you don’t know about SXSW and you work in entertainment or want to work in the industry, you should be ashamed. This festival is truly unmatched and has proven to be a stepping stone for many artists and music entrepreneurs alike. Quite frankly, going to SXSW is a music business right of passage.
The music business education side features a bunch of timely panels and the networking is always palpable. Tickets may be steep but if you buy-in the experience could be game-changing. SXSW nails the combination of entertainment, education and networking combination.
Date: March 13–22, 2019
Location: New York, NY
“Mondo.NYC is a pioneering music festival and global business conference focusing on the intersection of emerging music discovery and how blockchain and other emerging technologies and economies will significantly impact the business of music.” At least in their words but the experience honestly comes close.
Mondo brings a more intimate experience even though the names are just as big and the panelists are just as informed.
The knock-on most music business conferences, especially the bigger ones, is that networking can be impersonal and not realistic. At Mondo.NYC having real discussions with industry leaders is possible.
Mondo 2019 key business content:
A&R • NYC Bookers Meetup • Streaming Media • CLE • Blockchain & Cryptocurrency • The Songwriter & Music Publishing • Marketing • Music Supervision • Live Music Opportunities & Challenges • Emerging Technology • Gender & Diversity in Artistry & Business
The reality is Mondo.NYC does a great job of matching music and tech talkers with a community that is interested in the business. Because of this, I think it is the most underrated Music Conference in the states at the moment.
Winter Music Conference
Date: March 16–19th, 2020
Location: Miami, Fl
Located in Miami, Winter Music Conference is an escape from the treacherous cold weather in the Northeast and Midwest. This conference has a mix of all the things you want at a music business conference. You get the great panels and fireside chats, networking, vendor booths, seminars and a taste of Miami’s nightlife.
WMC does a great job of mixing in business education and some music culture education to create a pretty interesting dynamic. They even offer Yoga.
“WMC will now offer three different badges to allow attendees to dial in their experience with precisely the programming they are looking for. Whether you are a fan looking to catch up with your favorite artists or an industry newcomer looking to take your next step in the business or a seasoned professional looking to grow your network, we have the programming you are looking for.”
Revolt Hip Hop Summit
Location: NYC, Atlanta, LA
The Revolt Hip Hop Summit definitely focuses on the business behind the culture more so than any other conference. If your goal is to go to two of these conferences on this list next year, the Revolt Summit offers conversation, unlike the others. While there is always the serious educational element you are getting with panel discussions, the Revolt Hip Hop summit focuses on the history, present, and future of the business of Hip Hop.
You get to hear from legends like Diddy, Quality Control’s Coach K, and other important figures as well as the lawyers, rappers, producers and others who affect the business of Hip Hop. It’s truly a dynamic event.
They also don’t shy away from the entertainment aspect of the conversation. T.I., Killer Mike, Candace Owens, & More talking the Black Agenda, Voting, & Donald Trump is always a must attend.