What's the thing about showcases?

Showcase events, and there are plenty of them these days, are at best to consider as the backstage area of the music business, a place where things can happen and where artists and companies can meet the right partners in order to take the next step forward. At its worst it's just a rip-off where aspiring bands play for free and where the organizers uses the term of "meet the industry" as the catch.

So how do you prepare for such an event? How do you choose which showcase you should play? What are the factors to make a showcase event into something fruitful? We'll dig deep into that coming Tuesday at Pustervik in Gothenburg during the seminar "Musik, kreativitet & export", and we'll try to answer up on these issues.
To our help we have invited Anna Willrodt, head of festival at Sørveiv, a showcase event in Kristiansand, Norway and Gustav Påhlsson, guitar player/vocalist in the wild, electric rock band Bottlecap. Prepping up we asked them both a few questions tied to their experiences on showcases, from the perspective as the organizer and as the artist.

Anna Willrodt, Sørveiv

Doing a showcase event, where do you put the most energy - conference, networking, live shows?
– Yes, thank you, I’ll take all of that. We put an equal amount of effort into all these things. They're all different variations on the same theme – the theme being talent development. We obviously showcase up and coming artists but we work just as closely with talents on our conference stage and in our back office. We see that this kind of enthusiasm really infects both our delegates and artists with the same kind of "hunger" for everything happening at Sørveiv.

How do you work trying to make the event as fruitful as possible for both delegates and musicians?
– We are a small festival and that is our big advantage! We focus on intimate settings both for concerts, conference and just hanging out in between where those personal encounters can take place. That’s usually where the magic happens! We actively encourage both delegates and artists to join us in all of those settings, but while delegates are really good at showing up, especially if there is free coffee and/or beer, there are definitely some artists who are better at participating than others – among them Gustav and Bottlecap.

Gustav Påhlsson, Bottlecap

What do you do differently when preparing for a showcase event compared to a regular event?
– It's mainly about getting to know the event, the people around it and to find out which delegates will attend. At a "normal" show you don't really need to focus on anything than your own performance. During a showcase you might wanna be at the event at least one day before your own show to be able to attract as much attention as possible.

How can a showcase event help the bands/artists succeed, can they help you in any way during the event?
– Acknowledge the fact that many bands/artists don't travel with representatives who can do the "networking" for them is one thing. It's always very positive if the festival will have their delegates list available so we can contact people/promote our show. Don't place loud rock bands in small cafés and tell them to play quiet, provide information about the venue to avoid misunderstandings. Overall, just make it as simple as possible to promote shows, contact delegates and more.

The seminar is organized by Kultur i Väst and Musikcentrum Väst in co-op with Kulturakademin, Export Music Sweden and Westside Music Sweden. The events starts at 09.15 and we'll do our thing after lunch.

Event: Musik, kreativitet & export
Sørveiv - Facebook
Bottlecap - Facebook

Words: Mattias Tell
Photo: Eric Ward