Since 1987, The South by Southwest Music and Media Conference (SXSW for short) has grown from being a regional music showcase to one of the biggest events on the music calendar. For an up-and-coming band, an appearance at SXSW can be a game changer. In years past, SXSW had a heavy focus on indie music, but those small bands been nudged out a bit in favor of more established acts in recent years.
SXSW also hosts a Film Festival and Interactive Festival, aimed at web designers and bloggers.
For people trying to build a name for themselves on the business side of the music industry, there are great chances to connect with record labels, distributors, manufacturers, press, and agents.
SXSW emphasizes bringing bands to showcase when they are "ready," meaning artists who already have a little bit of interest and buzz around them. Don't expect to get on stage if you and your band show up at SXSW without a gig. It's not likely.
Midem, which stands for Marché International du Disque et de l'Edition Musicale is one of the oldest and largest music industry trade shows. Held annually in Cannes, France since 1967, Midem is set up like a trade fair by day and performance showcase by night. Representatives from labels, publishers, startups, developers brands and agencies all visit Midem.
The cost of a ticket to Midem is steep, and this is not a conference for beginners to hand out sample CDs. Bands should be established before attending this massive industry event.
03North by Northeast (NXNE)
The northern answer to SXSW, North by Northeast (NXNE) is not quite as large as its Texan counterpart but very indie friendly. Held every June in Toronto, NXNE's primary focus is music but includes a film festival, comedy, arts, and gaming components as well. For East Coast and northern-based bands not interested in making the trek to Austin, NXNE might offer an alternative.
NAMM, the National Association of Music Merchants, hosts this show every year in Anaheim, California. It's limited to people involved in music product manufacturing and is a members-only event. If you're on the business side of things, this show should be on your must-attend list of music industry events.
This Cologne, Germany-based convention runs parallel to a music festival of the same name. C/O Pop attracts representatives from record labels, managers, media, and other music industry executives from Europe, South America and the U.S. If you can swing the plane ticket to Cologne, this convention offers a multitude of networking opportunities.
06Winter Music Conference
This dance music focused event held annually in Miami attracts a global audience. WMC is also home to the International Dance Music Awards, the largest award show dedicated to dance music. The conference brings together professionals such as artists, DJs, record label representatives, producers, promoters, radio and the media for seminars and panel discussions.
The Top 6 Music Industry Trade Shows to Attend
Music industry trade shows can be expensive, and not every event is right for everyone. These music industry trade show profiles will help you figure out which events to mark on your calendar and which to sit out.