10 Tips For Organizing a Conference

Music bloggers, Upstart publicists, Budding Photographers, and DIY artists NEED a place to go where they can learn the tools it takes to stand out in this current state of noise for the sake of noise. They deserve to be taken seriously.

As a web entrepreneur and music journalist I’ve had the pleasure of attending, speaking at, and even helping to organize many conferences and summits, but one thing has always troubled me; Bloggers and “one-stop-shops” in the music industry are rarely addressed at these events, much less treated as serious players in the music industry, even though we are at the ground level, identifying the taste-makers and initiating the online buzz for thousands of artists each year. We are the tolerated guests given the leftover seats at the big kids table, even at established music conferences. It was no surprise to find that my opinion is a common one. In a recent post, Haulix team member James Shotwell posed the question to the industry that we’ve all been waiting for: Would You Attend a Conference For Music Bloggers? The answer was a resounding YES!

When is there going to be a #MusicIndustry conference for the #DIY-er? (Inspired By @utgjames ) Share on X

But following closely behind that thundering and unanimous answer was another whispered question: But who will do the work? This is me, officially throwing my experience and available time into the hat to say that I would, and I’ll start by listing just a few things I learned in my conference experience.


  1. Hold the conference in an educational facility for lower facility costs and access to presentation tools, multiple classrooms, and possibly a lecture hall, as well as ample parking. Community colleges and University remote campuses are ideal. The surrounding area should also already be a natural hub for your target speakers and facilitators since you will have a hard time bringing in experts if they have to travel long distances.
  2. WhiskeyChick OfficialHold it in a city that is inexpensive to fly to from most airlines! Seriously… check flight prices and availability before you lock in a location. Cities with strong hubs are preferable. You can find more tips on planning an inexpensive flight from this handy post at CheapAir.com .
  3. Focus on panel discussions throughout the day with a keynote speaker at the end of each day. Panelists are easier to bring in on a volunteer basis leaving only keynote speakers to make financial considerations for. You may make financial considerations for panel moderators who are leaders in the local industry, but you’ll forego the cost of travel, room & board.
  4. Consider a two-track schedule to address novices and the more experienced, or to address two sides of the same industry (Publishers and Publicists/artists).
  5. Run it for 2 days max… You have a lot of attrition from one day to the next, so by the third day it’s mostly organizers and very few attendees.If you run only a single-day conference you risk not offering enough value to the attendee to warrant ticket and travel.
  6. Have a central gathering space for those that arrive at odd times or choose to sit out one session or another. This is where your vendors and sponsors will thrive.
  7. Be sure that you encourage vendors and sponsors that are conversation-starters.
  8. We all know the real reason for attending these events (besides self-education) is networking, so create as many opportunities as reasonably possible for attendees to showcase their work. My personal favorite was a simple video loop displayed on a large screen in the gathering space that showcased a picture of attendees along with a high-res image of their flagship project, and a short list of their FB.com URL and Twitter Handle to facilitate quick connections live on-site.
  9. Plan it at LEAST one year out, but preferably 2. This gives you plenty of time to lock in a facility, pre-promote registration, book speakers, secure vendors, and involve the right media.
  10. Have a strong volunteer team experienced in the conference’s target industry, outside sales, graphic design, web development, and event planning. I cannot stress enough how important a large, strong volunteer team is!

I could go on all day and list until I’m blue in the face, but the point is really this: Music bloggers, Upstart publicists, Budding Photographers, and DIY artists NEED a place to go where they can learn the tools it takes to stand out in this current state of noise for the sake of noise. They deserve to be taken seriously. And they would strongly benefit from networking together to reach our very compatible but individual goals in each of our fields. The only question we should really be asking is why haven’t we started this already?

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