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FAI Tip - The value is in the community & meeting other songwriters
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1/22/2016 at 12:45:32 AM GMT
Posts: 16
FAI Tip - The value is in the community & meeting other songwriters

I asked my favorite songwriters, ones who have been previous Folk Alliance showcase performers, for tips when attending a music conference. Every one of them emphasized the role of community:

Brad Cole: "It’s probably more important to find chemistry with other artists than it is to stalk bookers."

Josh Rose: "I have befriended some wonderful people through the Folk Conference circles: you, Chad Elliot, Heather Styka, Ben Bedford, and others. The mutual respect comes easily at these conferences and all I have been privy to is collaboration with these folks, not competition."

Graydon James and Laura Spink from The Young Novelists: "You sit down and have a chat with someone about common interests. Get to know them a little bit. If you're looking to have a career in music, you have to build relationships because it makes sense, not because someone is trying to take advantage of a situation. Maybe someday you will work together, maybe not, but that's not even really important at this stage. Just meeting and getting to know each other a bit is the best thing."

Andrew McKnight: "Small investments in making people feel appreciated in some way, and making it easy for others to join them... Leaving a trail of positive interactions wherever you go will surely build a more sustainable foundation for the decades of your career yet to come." (From his essay in the book: Killing It in the Streaming Age.)

And here are some habits that might help from Camela Widad:
"I learned early on that business – for me – was about meeting people[...]I’m not so good with names, but I’m good with stories. After I meet someone, get their card, I immediately write down what stuck out for me about them. Some people I may work with, some I may not; but when I go back home to 100 or more business cards, flyers, and personal notes in my journal, those little bits I wrote down jog my memory. I contact everyone I’ve met with a personal note to thank them, remind them of who I am and how we met.I still have cards from 5 years ago and remember who someone is from my notes."

Al Kniola, radio DJ at 88.1 FM WVPE, sums it up well: "networking with your fellow artists is invaluable." 

Attending music conferences is expensive, but there is an opportunity to find value in the songwriters standing in the corners of the rooms. Peyton Tochterman and I shared a fun week tour together, all because we had met as strangers over lunch at SERFA, and left the conference as friends.

Your next show share in a new region might be made at Folk Alliance! An immediate bond is formed quickly between traveling musicians. We've been bitten by the same bug; and one with the sickness understands you.

* * * * * 
Author Bio:
Mike Vial is a songwriter from Ann Arbor. He has performed close to 1000+ gigs, including shows at the Ark in Ann Arbor, The Flint Institute of Arts, Six String Concerts in Columbus, Rockwood Music Hall, and State Theater in South Bend. He has been an official showcase artist at SERFA and FARMette, and he is attending his first FAI conference this February. You can hear his newest single, "Burning Bright" and read the feature by American Songwriter Magazine here

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Last edited Thursday, January 21, 2016

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