By Cilette Swann
My name is Cilette Swann and I’m the singer and lyricist from the soulful roots pop duo, Gypsy Soul. My partner and husband, Roman Morykit and I are celebrating our 20th anniversary as independent artists, and even with all our touring history, nothing really prepares you for your first booking conference experience. Attending conferences is a kind of right of passage for musicians and performers of all kinds. Despite showcasing at MIDEM, Arts NW, Folk Alliance and others, it was still daunting to prepare to represent ourselves at WAA 2016 in Los Angeles.
"Creating meaningful connections was our top priority. We wanted to expand our touring horizons and ultimately find an agent who truly gets who we are and what we do.”
It was evident that it really doesn’t matter how many years you’ve been performing, how dazzling your press profile or how many TV and Film placements you’ve had, everyone is a newcomer when they enter the world of booking conferences. It’s a baptism by fire, both humbling and intimidating yet it’s also an exciting opportunity to really examine what is and what isn’t working in your career. The conference is an unforgiving mirror. It has many lessons for those whose hearts and minds are open.
Once we had made the decision to attend, we jumped in with both feet from the high dive! We became exhibitors, produced a showcase room, participated in a Perfect Pitch session and attended many One-on-One meetings. We also went to the meet and greet and sponsored luncheon. These casual, yet elegant breaks from the hubbub of the exhibit hall were a welcome respite. We were able to strike up many a conversation on a variety of subjects from arts grants to the kindness of strangers (especially those charming Canadians) and discuss the merits (and challenges) of growing one’s fundamental team. It was during the luncheon where we first connected with agent, Margot Holmes of Caline Artists International who was inspired by our story.
"The music industry is all about relationships as we know. We were aware we had high hopes but were also careful to manage our expectations of the conference. Attracting the right agent would be like discovering a beautiful and rare bird."
By taking significant risks and investing the time and money to make our first WAA conference a success, we were rewarded with the most welcome of outcomes. Though results may not be typical for every first timer, we are thrilled that not only did we bond and sign with our new agent, Margot Holmes…. a beautiful and rare bird herself, but we also pushed well beyond our own comfort zone. We’re much better prepared for future conferences and new touring demands.
It’s clear that conferences certainly favor the repeat attender. Presenters want to see that commitment and consistency if they’re going to invest in those acts. By the end of the conference we had cast aside many an old idea and preconceived notion. We left Los Angeles with a renewed faith in our touring future and a rekindled joy for our music…our hearts buoyant and heads buzzing with the myriad of ways we can reach new audiences.
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