Festival/ Conferences Do’s & Don’ts

Music festivals and conferences – the best possible time of the year for music fans and industry people. So you’re lucky enough to cover one of these events? Congratulations! Now here’s a list of do’s and don’ts that will get you through (and hopefully you avoid the mistakes I made at ECMA 2017.)

DO – Book your travel plans in advance if you have to travel to the event. Trust me. Having it done in advance will save you a lot of headaches down the road. Plus, hotels and flights tend to be cheaper if booked farther in advance.

DON’T – Forget your sunglasses when your travel is three hours on a bus. Just don’t do it. It’s not a good time.

DO – Look up where your hotel is ahead of time. It will give you ease of mind if you know where it is and how you’re getting there whether you’re taking a bus, flying, or driving.

DON’T – Spend $8.00 on a cab when you didn’t have to. Okay, to be fair I didn’t realize the short cut beforehand and that I could literally walk to the hotel, but that’s beside the point. Do your research. That $8.00 can be spend on the food you promised yourself you weren’t going to buy because you can’t live on fast food for the entire weekend (but you can, you shouldn’t, but you can.)

DO – Make sure you always have your hotel key with you. If it’s a music conference you’ll be all over the place and who knows if the person you’re staying with will be in the room when you’re getting back.

DON’T – Put your hotel key card in the same pocket as your phone. It gets demagnetized. A band member will have to use their key to get you to your room before you realize it won’t work in the door either and you have to go all the way back to the lobby to get it sorted out. (Thanks Taylor.)

DON’T (part two) – Leave your license in the hotel room. Sure you aren’t driving anywhere if you’re lucky so why carry it? Because it comes in handy if you get locked out of your room. If you’re lucky they’ll let you get away with using your media pass as your ID. (Thanks Robert.)

DO – Bring your phone to take notes on the shows you cover so you can write about it later and Instagram the shows.

DON’T – Only bring your phone. Seriously. Article writing on a phone is nearly impossible. Sure, your laptop is broken and you can’t use it without having a monitor and having it constantly plugged in, but even that hassle would be easier than writing it on an iPhone screen.

DO – Have a plan. Venues across the city, artists and bands galore – it’s a lot to deal with. You need to see as many artists as possible. Your favourite is here, the one you’re curious about is there. It’s a jumbled, fast paced time and you need to be organized to get everything done.

DON’T – Just stick to the plan. Showcases run over. Shows sell out. As much as you need an idea of what you’re going to see, you need to just go with it too. Maybe an artist you saw at an earlier showcase is playing again over the weekend and you just realized you need to see them again. Yes, you’re technically working, but it’s a music conference! You’re also there to enjoy your time and experience all that the industry has to offer.

DO – Meet new people. Shake hands, network, make new friends!

DON’T – Forget to bring some sort of cough drop with you. Lots of people in little spaces. Someone is going to be sick, don’t let it be you.

DO – Have fun! Enjoy yourself!

DON’T – Stay up the entire night drinking and partying. You have to cover events during the day the next day. You’ll regret it. This is more of a common sense ‘don’t’ than an experience, but it’s a common occurrence at these events. Don’t be the reason the drug store is sold out of Tylenol.

And possibly the most important do’s and don’ts of this list:

DO – Explore the city you’re in. Maybe you’ve never been there before, maybe you have. But if it’s a conference or festival chances are the bands and artists are wandering around as well. You never know who you’ll run into.

DON’T – Forget the experience.  It may be once in a lifetime, it may not. Either way it’s not something you can experience all of the time. Most of these events are once a year and you’re lucky if you’re the one that gets to cover it. Make sure you take lots of pictures – be it of performers, shows or scenery. Pictures are memories. The more you take, the more you have.

Here are some photos from my time in Saint John, NB for ECMA 2017:

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