So I obviously spent all of last week writing about Psycho Las Vegas and all of the fun I had there but I wanted to talk about something only tangentially tied in – the lessons I took away from it. At any event of Psycho’s scale with industry figures from all around the genre there and excited to be a part of something grander, it’s hard to come away without learning key lessons. So I took the time to sit down and reflect on what I had learned and realized that it’s the events like Psycho Las Vegas that tie our year together and make this entire community so closely knit and capable of greatness. In many ways attending major music festivals should be an indispensable part of the music industry experience and give you something to base your entire career around. If you’re not going to these festivals not only are you denying yourself a good time but you are limiting your potential for growth – something I found incredibly true at Psycho.
People trust people who they can drink with. Part of why people enjoy networking is because most of it, especially in music, involves heavy drinking and drug use. Just by buying my t shirt printer, who happened to be at the festival, a beer at 3 AM and smoking a joint with him I was able to weasel my way into a long term discount. By going to an afterparty with a major industry figure not only was I able to get one of his bands a cool new opportunity but also got extended a tentative job offer for a festival in 2017. It’s stuff like this that makes me tick, that makes me excited about the future of this entire industry – because we see in a very tangible way how we can work together to create something greater. It allows us to put a face to a name and then use that physical interaction in order to refine our relationships and construct for tomorrow what we never could have done today.
Beyond that – festivals are important because it shows you who is friends with who. In turn this allows you to get a scoop on some of your industry contacts who you might not have been as sure of. It also allows bonds to form, spending a weekend drinking with a friend of a friend you were desperately trying to network with is a much better way to get at them than merely sending out a tentative introductory email and praying to the networking gods. Even if you don’t get to spend time drinking with that person at least you got to shake their hand – and people whose hands you shake are far more likely to be interested in answering an email you send them a few days later about a potential project that you want to work on. I know that might sound silly – but it’s one of those deepset psychological things that you have to be aware of if you want any measure of success doing something as silly as rock and roll for a living.
Part of the beauty of high profile festivals in close quarters is that they also allow for some rather serendipitous meetings. I met a new booking agent and French language partner just by chance while ranting about an old enemy while drunk off my ass in the middle of the Vegas strip. That’s just how these things go. The beauty of Psycho is that because of how things re set up having a VIP pass doesn’t mean that much and most folks aren’t precluded by the sort of classist system that keeps music industry folks away from the general masses at a festival like Hellfest. For the record – I’m a fan of the Hellfest system, but understand why it could be frustrating for your average Joe trying to meet some cool metal industry people at a major festival. Long story short – don’t go to festivals just to network – but realize that if you are doing it right then you are inevitably going to be doing some networking that can help you long term.
Of course – I did a lot more than just network at Psycho. It opened a window into sides of the industry I might never have otherwise seen. Getting to be around so many bands for that long – well by default you are going to learn something. You learn silly stuff – like about the best methods to shotgun large amounts of beer, but also more important things – like the crushing reality of touring all the time and how to embrace the simple suburban darkness of the United States. Hanging out with touring bands is important for anyone in the industry, band member, promoter, booker, whatever, because it gives you a glimpse into the souls of the very people who make this whole thing go. I’m not saying that you need to satisfy their needs and I’m not saying that you need to bend to their whims (As a matter of fact that might be a very bad thing!) but what I am saying is that we are all in this together and need to sympathize with the artists.
I swear I’m not just a shill for music festivals even though I work for several. I swear I’m just trying to help create a better tomorrow for everyone and not just auto fellate myself for having gotten to go to a cool festival and wanting to share that experience. Rather I’m just some dude out there with something to say, much like you and many of your friends. I’m just some dude who is trying to help you see that if you embrace these things they will embrace you. All of these festivals, in any genre, are linked up and if you take advantage of that linking up and try to grow with your love for festivals then you will only find success.