Over the years, I've stuck my neck out and spoken publicly about the things that I strongly disagree with regarding the typical music conference. When I started to create the first IMC, I implemented a lot of procedures that were designed to eliminate the problems I'd seen all too often. Many of my ideas were looked upon as radical, different... even ridiculous by some.
One of my viewpoints which drew the most fire was that all the hype about "major label A&R Reps" and "showcase for us and you might get signed" is total BS. I was sick and tired of reading all the hoopla about this artist and that artist that "got signed after showcasing for [Fillintheblank] Music Conference." The truth is, no artist ever "got signed" simply because they performed at a conference. If a deal got done, you can bet that performer was already being pursued by A&R Reps well in advance of that music conference.
I decided what independent artists needed was a conference of their own. An annual gathering that totally eliminated all the useless BS and misleading hype. They needed workshops and panels that applied specifically to THEM and their needs as indies. At this conference I imagined, NO ONE would "get signed," and we'd be glad about it. We'd focus on education and networking, not on "showcases." I knew that many artists and industry people who were still stuck on that major label path and strongly believed that they absolutely had to "get a deal" would not appreciate an event like this.
I wasn't worried about it, because I wasn't designing the IMC for them
I've weathered a lot of criticism for my policies and procedures that I created for the IMC, but if my ideas about music conferences were so wrong, why are others suddenly starting to sound like me as they promote their events? Just take a look at the other conferences' promo stuff and watch for phrases like:
"THIS CONFERENCE IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY!"
How weird... that sounds like me talking! I lifted those lines right off of their web sites. They may have ridiculed my ideas but now that they've started incorporating many of them into their own events, it tells me I must have been onto something all along.
It's no big surprise to me that music conferences are quietly shifting away from the "showcase for us and you might get signed" hype and moving toward a platform that caters to independent musicians who want to sidestep the mainstream music industry. Let me once again stick my neck out by predicting that in the next few years, most music conferences will begin to downplay the "showcase for us/A&R Reps/get signed" angle, and instead will begin to focus on education and networking for indie musicians.
I'm not really foretelling anything shocking though, since many of them are obviously already doing exactly that.
Maybe the IMC wasn't such a crazy idea after all, eh?
Here's another radical idea I want to implement... most music conferences get more expensive as they grow. They capitalize on their increasing attendee numbers and their popularity to make more money. With the IMC, I want to do the opposite, we'll get more affordable as we grow... our prices for registrations will go down.
Why? Well, why not? If we grow and more people come to the event, we'll naturally attract more sponsors, and we'll make more on registrations so why not spread that around a bit? It just seems right to me that if possible, we should work towards making the IMC more and more affordable, especially for the musicians who are attending in order to learn and network.
We're also going to put a limit on how many performance applications we accept, and the number of performers we feature. Many conferences just keep taking those $25 -$35 application fees even though they know it's impossible to actually listen to 1500 music submissions.
1300+ bands each spent $35 on absolutely nothing.
I won't have that at the IMC. We'll limit it to 200 applications. That way we'll always be able to feature about 100 - 150 performances at the IMC. More than that just wouldn't be effective for the bands. There are only so many music fans in any given area, and trying to attract too few of them to too many shows only defeats the purpose of the performances. Limiting the number of performance applicants and performances will also help to keep the focus on education, where it belongs.