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Everything you need to know about performing at A3C, and everywhere else

Mike Walbert
Posted by Mike Walbert on Mar 6

A3C’s showcases are one of the best discovery platform for independent hip-hop artists. Performing artists will gain amazing exposure, and make invaluable connections, at the biggest hip-hop event in the world.

Each artist that is NOT selected to perform will receive a discount code worth more than the cost of any submission fee. All performing artists will receive a free A3C pass. At least 2 of the selected acts will receive $500 for their performance.

Artist Submissions are free through April 13

April 14 - July 31  [$5 Administrative Fee]

August 1 - September 19  [$50 Expedite Fee]

What is our Selection Process?

First off, we receive over 2,500 submissions from artists all over the world annually, so it's pretty competitive.  

We have a programming committee that reviews each submission.  

We select over 100 artists to enter into "This Is My Year," which is an opportunity for the hip-hop community and fans to hand pick the artists they want to see live.  We started This Is My Year in order to highlight more artists and engage the hip-hop community.  We've been able to spark more artist discovery and involve fans in the programming process.  The artists win.  The fans win.  

How This Is My Year works?  We select 6 stand out artists each week.  We highlight the artists and promote an online voting platform that puts the final decision in the hands of the fans and hip-hop community.   The 2 artists with the most votes each week win an opportunity to perform at the 13th annual A3C Festival & Conference.  Over 16 weeks more than 32 artists are selected through this process. 

In addition, our programming committee hand select between 12 and 30 artists that we're not selected via This Is My Year.

What do we look/Listen for?

With over 2,500 artist submissions annually, we've gotten a pretty good process for selecting talent.  Here is what we look/listen for.

Our goal is to find the most talented (often undiscovered) artists that will get the most from performing at A3C Festival and attending the A3C Conference.  

We ask ourselves, is this artist prepared to take their career to the next level?  And here are some of the tools we use to determine that:


Does your music sound good?  Your songs need to be well recorded and engineered.  This is too often overlooked, but very important.

Is your music unique?  We listen to A LOT of music.  Your music might sound good, and we may like it, but  but if it sounds like a lot of other music we listen to, it is difficult to pick you from a crowd.  We hear a lot of music that sounds like the current "hip-pop-rap" music on the radio, and while we may like the music, what makes you unique?  We are looking for artists that stand out in a crowd of 2,000.


Do you have a consistent look/feel? You are a brand!  If we see that you've put in the time, energy and resources necessary to develop a dope brand, it means you're taking your career seriously.  

Do you have professional photos? This might seem minor, but it's a big deal. Music is about making connections. Fans aren't gonna connect with you, follow you, share your music, buy your merch... if they don't connect with your overall vibe.  That can start with great photos, with a style that is right for you.

Do you have dope videos? This is one of the most important tools artists have to reach people and build a fanbase.  If you don't have any videos (or your videos are poor quality) it shows that you haven't taken the proper steps to develop yourself.  You need to have solid video content that make it easy for fans to like and share.  A creative (and unique) video can help break an artist. 


Do you have a fanbase?  Yes, we look to see if you have fans. If you haven't been able to generate any fans in your local market, that's a red flag. If your friends, family and neighborhood don't support you, then you haven't done step 1 and probably aren't ready for a national stage.

How do we tell if you have fans?  We look through your social media, YouTube and released music (ex. Soundcloud) to see if you have built any traction. We aren't looking for crazy numbers, but would like to see some initial engagement.

Do you engage with your fans? We look to see if you active on social media, and how much fan interaction you have.  If an artist has a large social following, but isn't actively communicating with fans, that's a red flag.  It shows that you aren't doing the little things.  It's like having a 5 Star rating on Yelp, but never being open for business.  A community needs to be nurtured, or it will die.

To Recap: You have a good chance of being selected IF... your music is "good", unique and professionaly mixed... AND you have creative visuals (video/photos)... AND an actively engaged fanbase.

How to Submit

It's pretty straight forward.

Step 1) Create a Sonicbids Account [HERE]

Step 2) Upload your favorite music, videos and photos.  Make sure to include all of your social account, website and biography. 

Step 2) Submit to A3C Festival [HERE]



We ONLY accept artist submissions via Sonicbids. You must have an active Sonicbids account to submit your EPK for review.

Sonicbids is an online platform that brings musicians together with people looking to book shows or license music.  Sonicbids provides tools to help connect artists with promoters, venues, and great music opportunities all over the world.  Sonicbids has exclusive partnerships with many taste-making events like SXSW, A3C and Bonnaroo.

Past Sonicbids selections include: Young Thug, Trinidad James, Rhymefest, Ca$h Out, Que, Black Sheep, Tanya Morgan, CJ Fly of Pro Era, Propaganda.


Here is what They Have To Say

A3C is the absolute best festival for rising Hip Hop talent. Their artist-first approach is priceless. - Justin Hunte (HipHopDX)

A3C is where rap’s aspirants come to make themselves heard - Christina Lee (Writer)

A3C has become a staple for independent artists to be at each year - Rapsody (Artist)

This fest is a labor of love and it has been growing for years, and as many people embark on being part of history, I must remind you that you still need to take advantage of all the awesomeness. - Hypebot

We're here to build and grow as artists, and this festival gives you that opportunity - Made Groceries (Artist)

I want to be one of these artists - at the end of the day - mentioned with the greats & to be great you've got to start at A3C - Jon Connor (Artist)

A3C gave us one of our first stages to perform on, it's always love for the hometown  - Earthgang


Mike Walbert

Written by Mike Walbert

Mike Walbert is the Executive Director of the A3C Festival & Conference. As as partner in the business Mike oversees various aspects of the business, including: Business Development, Sponsorship, Branding and Marketing. Mike officially joined A3C in 2009 as the Artist Director. Since 2010 Mike has managed the strategy and team that have grown A3C from a regional showcase to an internationally recognized institution in hip-hop culture.

Topics: Featured, Opportunities

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