I’ve been to a lot of conferences in the decade that I’ve been working in the music industry. Typically we get dozens of requests to cover these things, but there’s one conference I’ve been banned from TWICE.
I’m talking about PACnet, Paciolan/Spectra’s annual conference in Newport Beach. I’ve been invited to attend twice, and have subsequently been banned twice. Why? Without getting into too many details, let’s just say the first time I spoke truth to power, and the second time….they thought I was just too dangerous.
What can I say, right? Instead of sitting around and waiting for the embargo to be lifted, I’ve expanded my horizons and have attended a number of industry events around North America. My staff and I are working the circuit pretty hard during the first half of the year. Below are five conferences we recommend you consider attending in the first half of 2017, listed in chronological order by date.
Jan 16-18, New Orleans
This one falls into the category of ticket user conference, but the crowd that attends this Ticketfly-event includes some of the top independent promoters and major agents in North America — guys like Tom Windish, Dan Weiner, Ralph James and Dave Rowan.
It’s kind of like a mini-Pollstar, but there’s one rub in all of this — you have to be invited to attend. If you’re not on the Ticketfly platform, it might be difficult to get the A-OK. But if you do manage to score a spot on the list, you’ll get a chance to hang with some very cool people in one of America’s best party towns.
Jan 24-26, New Orleans
Another event happening in New Orleans this year. INTIX is a ticketing conference attended by box office professionals — you know, those guys and gals who sit at the ticket window all day and have to deal with (mostly insane) members of the public? Every once in a while, someone lets them out of the ticket cave so they can stretch and acclimate to sunlight.
INTIX has been around for years and its got its core constituency of regulars. There’s a trade show and plenty of panels that focus on everything from professional development to new technology and social media. They have a new president in Maureen Anderson and a new focus on humanizing data and analytics in the box office.
Not bad, right? If anything, it’s a good place to share ticketing jokes and wisecracks about the box office window. Like the one about a young guy walking into a bar and shouting “All scalpers are assholes.” A gentleman sitting at the bar takes exception to this statement and tells the young man to watch his offensive language.
“Why? Are you a scalper?” the young man asks.
“No,” the gentleman replies. “I’m an asshole.”
Jan 31-Feb 2, Los Angeles
You know I’ve got to include this bad boy on the list. Pollstar Live is back in Los Angeles and is gonna be bigger and better than ever.
Perhaps I’m biased because Amplify is Powered by Pollstar and I’m moderating a pretty big panel — Ticketing for a Better Tomorrow featuring Jared Smith from Ticketmaster, Bryan Perez from AXS, Andrew Dreskin from Ticketfly and Julia Hartz from Eventbrite. More importantly, I think Pollstar is the conference where you get the most bang for your buck and get in front of the most agents and promoters. If you book a venue or help promote concerts, Pollstar is a must-attend event.
Pollstar will be taking over the LA Live campus this year with the Pollstar Awards hosted by Justin Willman being held at the Novo Theatre. Shep Gordon and Alice Cooper will slide into the keynote slot with an interview by Danny Zelisko while Dan Steinberg and Luke Pierce will bring their promoter 101 podcast to Pollstar for a special live show with Wayne Forte from Entourage Talent and Charlie Levy from Stateside Presents.
Canadian Music Week
April 19-21, Toronto
One of my favorite events to cover, CMW is a chance to see practically everyone in the Canadian music scene in a relatively short span of time and to do it in an incredible city. My favorite part of CMW are the musical showcases taking place all over Toronto, as well as the day parties and hang sessions. CMW is like a much smaller, friendly version of South by Southwest, but instead of barbeque and hipster attitudes, it’s just a bunch of folks drinking Molson and constantly saying “sorry.”
Unlike other music conferences, CMW is attended by actual musicians. It’s nice to be around aspiring artists who still have their hopes and dreams in front of them. Last year, I was asked to sit in for the speed mentoring session. I was the only music business reporter in the panel and my bio simply said “Reporter and Editor based in Los Angeles.” I thought no one would come to my table, but when I sat down I discovered my signup sheet was completely full. Why would anyone want to talk to me? When the first person sat down and asked me “do you think it would be good for my career if I relocated to Los Angeles?” I had my answer — everyone wanted to talk about California.
Event and Arena Marketing
June 14-17, Tulsa
I love this event. The energy is young and exciting, the panels are vibrant and the hang is definitely solid. Being a publisher and media rep, it makes a lot of sense for me to attend this conference of venue marketers and PR pros, but beyond professional networking, EAMC is a really fun crowd and I’ve made friendships with this group that will last a lifetime.
This year the conference is in Tulsa and is being hosted by the BOK Center team. Tulsa is a very fun town with some great music venues like Cain’s Ballroom and EAMC is an affordable way to visit the flyover stop. Also, Amplify is sponsoring the team-building exercise again, so you know this is gonna be a good chance to grab some #ampswag.