For years, I've painfully watched artist pour their money, heart, and soul into showcases, only to be tricked, conned, or scammed. The painful truth is that many of these showcases are events thrown together by janky promoters, who are predators. They prey on artists looking for fame and fortune but will settle for short-lived validation.
The right showcase can be the best career-building opportunity. In the beginning stages of an artist's career, showcases can be an excellent tool for improving performance skills and overcoming stage fright or insecurities. You can also learn from watching others if you're unsure how to network or develop relationships with other artists and your audience. Artists should use this opportunity to seize the day.
Typically, when an artist sees an opportunity to enter a Showcase, they'll pay an entry fee and provide the music they want to perform to the promoter. A promoter only looking to make money will accept as many entries as possible. That could mean a 25-artist lineup without any artists knowing what time they'll perform or if they'll even have the chance to perform. The promoter may even go as far as to hire a local celebrity to host the event to make their event more appealing. Often, artists are forced to sell tickets to promote and bring traffic to the event. Trust me, it's a racket.
On the flip side, a promoter looking to provide the artist with an opportunity to promote their artistry, network, build, and develop a following will take the necessary steps to plan and organize the showcase accordingly. They may go as far as to invite reputable music executives to host or judge the event and provide feedback to the artist. Their sole purpose of the showcase isn't to make money or get over on the artists. Some promoters are genuinely passionate about helping artists.
As Media, when I attend showcases, I look for four things: music selection, artist performance, audience reaction, and judges' reaction. An artist could have great music, but their on-stage performance could be better, or their performance could be excellent, but their music isn't the best quality. If the artist has great music and performance, I look towards the audience and judges to see if it resonates. That lets me know if this artist has what it takes to be either editorial or worthy of an interview.
As an artist, before entering a showcase, ask yourself, "What's in it for me?" Why enter the showcase if you don't find it will benefit you? "Who's the promoter?" Ask around to see if the promoter is legit and organized. "How many artists are on the lineup?" Too many artists could mean you won't have a chance to be seen. "Will there be a winner, prize, or offering?" Find the advantages of the opportunity. "Who are the hosts or judges, and what can they do for me?" Better yet, "Have these hosts or judges done anything for anyone's career?" Don't set yourself up for disappointment by having unrealistic expectations; being discovered is not guaranteed. Check out the elements that make up the purpose of Music Showcases and comment about your experience.
THE PURPOSE OF MUSIC SHOWCASES:
Exposure: Showcases give emerging artists a wider audience, which can lead to an increased fan base, media coverage, and industry recognition.
Networking: Showcases allow musicians, producers, record labels, talent scouts, and other industry professionals to network and build relationships. They help artists connect with key figures who can help them advance their careers.
Promotion and Marketing: Showcases are a form of live marketing for artists. Performing live allows artists to connect with their audience more personally and effectively promote new music or upcoming releases.
Experience: Performing provides artists with valuable live performance experience. An artist's performance can be crucial when honing their stage presence, interacting with audiences, and improving their performance.
Testing New Music: Artists often use showcases to try new material or experiment with their sound. Audience feedback can help artists gauge the reception of their work and adjust accordingly.
Building a Fan Base: Showcases allow artists to connect directly with potential fans. A compelling live performance can leave a lasting impression, helping create a loyal fan base supporting the artist's career.
For Industry Professionals: Showcases provide an opportunity to assess current trends, identify emerging genres, and understand audience preferences. This information can inform business decisions and strategies within the music industry.
Discovery: Record labels, talent scouts, and other industry professionals often attend music showcases to discover new and promising talent. Showcasing allows artists to get noticed and secure record deals or other opportunities.