How to Escape the Showcase Bubble

1. Play a different setlist

Showcase gigs are unlike any other performance. The usual setlist formula doesn’t apply. Your audience is moving fast. “Some people will only have ten minutes for your show,” warns musician Mira Lu Kovacs from Schmieds Puls. Her tip? Only play your songs, and focus on your unique qualities. Cut out any filler. Ask a professional producer for advice on what to keep and what to axe.

2. Have dreams - and plans

Map out a career for the next three to five years, and figure out how to get to each step. Showcase festivals are just the first opportunity. "Have in mind what you plan to do with this," says Thomas Heher from Waves Vienna festival. "Try to get some milestones and achieve them. There are always delays, but you have to have a plan."

3. Pick your targets

Who exactly do you want to meet at your next showcase festival, and what do you want from them? Pick a few key people who can deliver specific benefits, then contact them in advance. "Try to tell them something special and unique, not only 'come to my show',” says Thomas Heher. “ Try to meet them at the conference and invite them again to your show in the evening. Even afterwards, contact them again. You have to be really persistent."

4. Travel with a team

Going to a showcase without management "doesn't make any sense," says Kovacs. You can’t play and schmooze at the same time. For those without professional support, Kovacs recommends at least taking along a friend who can do the talking while a musician prepares, plays and packs up.

5. Pay on the way, and plan to return

A showcase gig can be used to anchor a tour. Booker Maša Pavoković says it makes sense to hang around the country or region before and after playing a showcase. It’s also a chance to lay the groundwork for a return visit. Some countries such as Austria even offer cultural grants to help artists plan and pay for such showcase extension tours.

Want to hear more? Watch this panel session on the INES#conference video library.

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