Attending a music industry trade show like Midem requires you to have very clear objectives if you are to have any kind of success. Getting the most out of it requires serious advance planning and research. It is the same whether you are seeking international label licensing, artist deals, distribution or finance and territorial partnership or synch deals. Advance planning, including assembling your presentation tools and having an intimate knowledge of the music and catalogues you are representing, is critical. You need your narrative prepared both as an “elevator pitch” and as a longer story in the event you get that long-form pitch meeting you were hoping for.
Your story should be based on the quality of the songs and the skill and track record of the songwriters you are representing. You cannot effectively tell the story of your own company brand or that of your writers, artists and catalogue if you are not completely confident in what you presenting.
TIP: Before you leave home make sure you have curated carefully the music you are going to take with you to the trade show to pitch. Take only the best “top drawer” songs. Remember the old saying “the first impression is a lasting impression”.
So how can you make the tradeshow you are attending a personal adventure rather than just a business event? Here’s a thought. Consider the whole event as a game and that you are the key player – a warrior on a quest. After all “gameplay” is now taught at business schools. Whether we realise it or not, we apply gameplay every day as we navigate and negotiate throughout our business and personal world. And when you are aware of it, game play can be fun when treated as an adventure. So like all games there are a few key components: Quest, Journey, Challenge, Reward. Think of the tradeshow as the storyworld. In that world, your QUEST or mission (if you choose to accept it!) is to seek out music supervisors for potential music placement; to JOURNEY to and navigate the trade show world during which you will meet other players, gather intelligence and confront CHALLENGES which will require you to be innovative in getting past or avoiding gatekeepers; and to ultimately meet the decision makers. The REWARD becomes the opportunity to pitch your story, reap a license or at the very least strike up an important relationship to nurture later.
GETTING DOWN TO BUSINESS
Your prime objective is to seek out the people who are responsible for placing music in movies, television, advertising commercials and games and to return home with a sync placement. In preparation for the tradeshow, you should have some idea of those music supervisors and related media executives and staff who may be attending. Research the conference programmes and look for related panels in which those people you are interested in approaching are participating. If possible, try and make contact in advance of the tradeshow.
TIP: If you have done your research in advance, attending panels and listening to comments from people you are interested in meeting often provides an opportunity for greater intelligence-gathering. Your research forms the basis of your knowledge, but sometimes people on panels reveal information that they would normally not reveal without a non-disclosure agreement. Sometimes it is just a bit of information, but your research matched with a comment from a panel member just might help you connect a valuable dot. Take advantage of “competitive leakage” by being aware and well informed in advance. Read the trade mags, blogs, media newsletters, etc.
CONNECTING WITH MUSIC SUPERVISORS
It is quite possible that the tradeshow you are attending will turn out to be a great market development success but not necessarily a place where you walked away a signed deal. Market development where you make valuable contacts and stir the pot for future business should also be considered a success. However, that success is contingent on follow-up once you return home. In that case, your return on investment will be tied to how you follow through and build on your work at the trade show. Keep great notes and business cards together.
TIP: Don’t dare approach a music supervisor (like Grey’s Josh Rabinowitz, top photo; more on his Midem Sync session here) or any other media player with the intent of pitching or having a meeting without having researched them on resources such as IMDB and social media. Don’t just settle for what they have done. Work hard to sleuth out what they are working on right now. It is a compliment when the person you want to do business with learns that you have turned over rocks to be informed about them. It also helps hugely, at risk of stating the obvious, if you know your catalogue: the songs you represent must show great songwriting skill. Music supervisors listen to thousands of songs and so they have a skill in curating good songs. Not only are they reviewing songs for source use in their projects but they need to quickly filter out the best songs and determine good songwriting including good songs that fit both current trends and the style and genre to fit their project.
This post was written by Noush Mostaghimi and the SynchAudio Editorial Team. Meet them at Midem! And don’t miss this handy guide to all of Midem’s sync/brands sessions, including a keynote with Mary Ramos, Quentin Tarantino’s music supervisor (courtesy of SynchAudio), here on Synchtank!