The Hip-Hop Artist's Guide to Music Conferences

Mike Walbert
Posted by Mike Walbert on Jun 19

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If you’re an artist or involved in the music industry, it’s important to continue to build your network and learn about the business. The music industry is rapidly evolving and if you don’t know what’s happening around you, you’ll likely miss out on opportunities. There are a lot of conferences around the world that enable you to learn from and network with industry veterans. Each event is unique and provides a different experience, so you’ll need to do some research before deciding which are worthwhile.

You may have noticed that there aren’t a lot of conferences specifically for hip-hop. We noticed the same thing in 2008 when we first decided to transform the A3C Festival into the A3C Festival & Conference. We set out to produce the largest and most important conference in hip-hop, and today, there isn’t a more essential event for hip-hop artists, music industry figures and entrepreneurs to attend.

With that said, we’ve listed 16 very different conferences (in alphabetical order) that you should know about. 

A3C Festival & Conference

City: Atlanta, GA

Month: October 4-8, 2017

Who should attend: Record labels, booking agents, A&R, promoters, artist managers, artists, music tech companies, producers, publishers, music supervisors, songwriters and media personnel. 

The A3C Conference brings together artists, creatives and entrepreneurs in the music industry to connect, learn and create. The 3-day conference aims to empower and educate those who shape hip-hop music, technology, and culture. The A3C Conference hosts dozens of panels, workshops, mixers, mentor sessions and interviews with hundreds of tastemakers, thought-leaders and industry experts.

Featured Tracks Include:

Artist Accelerator - Independent Hip-Hop Artists and Managers

Beatstars Summit - Entrepreneurial Producers & Beatmakers

Labelx - Innovative Labels, Music Companies and Collectives

Music Tech: SPARK - Music Tech Startups, Music Industry, Entrepreneurs, Developers and Investors

Action Summit - Activists, Academic and Artists

ASCAP Expo

City: Los Angeles, CA

Month: April

Who should attend: Artists, producers and music makers

The ASCAP EXPO puts you face-to-face with some of the world's most successful songwriters, composers, artists, producers and music business leaders, who willingly share their expertise and give you the know-how to take your music to the next level.

ASCAP EXPO is a national conference dedicated to songwriting and composing. Selling out in its inaugural year, the EXPO immediately provided a unique opportunity for songwriters, composers, artists, producers, publishers - and those in the industry that support them - to come together in an unprecedented way to share their knowledge and expertise. The innovative programming offered to attendees has grown to include celebrity Q&A's, master classes, songwriting and composing workshops, publisher and business panels, One-on-One sessions, DIY career building workshops, showcases and performances, song feedback panels, state-of-the-art technology demos as well as leading music industry exhibitors.

Canadian Music Week

City: Toronto, Canada

Month: April

Who should attend: Record labels, booking agents, A&R, promoters, artist managers, artists, music tech companies, producers, publishers, music supervisors, songwriters and media 

Canadian Music Week’s 3-day Music Summit is designed for both industry executives and recording professionals focused on the business of global music. Encompassing 3 days of dedicated programming streams to Social Music, Live Touring, and Global Creators Summit, as well as keynotes, celebrity interviews, breakout sessions and workshops, it will provide you with the tools and knowledge to build your profile in the business and put you face-to-face with the forward-thinkers who shape the entertainment industries.

Canadian Music Week is one of the premier entertainment events in North America focusing on the business of music.

CD Baby's DIY Musician Conference

City: Nashville, TN

Month: August

Who should attend: Artists, managers and music makers

This conference is focused on the needs of today's independent artist. You'll learn from active industry leaders, make lasting connections, and walk away with not only a plan of action, but also a renewed sense of direction and excitement about your career.

Charleston Music Confab

City: Charleston, SC

Month: August - September

Who should attend: Artists, music makers and music industry 

Charleston Music Confab is a multi-genre conference that connects artists with the music industry, giving everyone the chance to discuss, develop, and discover mutually beneficial opportunities. More than 50 Music Industry professionals will be giving invaluable insight into the "business" and answering your questions during 10 New Music Confab Panel discussions.

Complex Con

City: Long Beach, CA

Month: November

Who should attend: Artists, creatives, media personnel, music & fashion enthusiasts

Complex Con is a gathering of like-minded pop culture enthusiasts, taking over Long Beach for a weekend of exclusive sneaker drops, headline musical performances, bleeding edge streetwear and fashion, FOMO-inducing interactive experiences, and much more.

Convergence

City: London, England

Month: March

Who should attend: Entrepreneurs, music industry, music tech companies, musicians, filmmakers, visual artists, writers, graphic designers and futurists.

Convergence facilitates an active dialogue around performance and technology, and provides a platform for unusual projects, one-off special events and collaborations featuring emerging artists and established pioneers.

Convergence Sessions enable a diverse range of artistic practitioners to share their insights, ideas and techniques in a creative, interdisciplinary atmosphere, through a series of talks, workshops and demonstrations. Sessions is a series of lively discussions, interactive workshops, film screenings and music performances. Sessions gives change-makers, groundbreakers and risk takers a platform to share thoughts, collaborate and interact with like-minded individuals and discuss how people and ideas are shaping the future of technology. 

DJ Expo

City: Atlantic City, NJ

Month: August

Who should attend: DJs

DJ Expo includes 25 educational seminars, an exhibit hall full of top gear, and three evenings of sponsored events. DJ Expo seminars will offer solutions to the biggest issues in an ever-changing industry, be they mobile-, club- or studio-related. The DJ Expo’s showfloor & demo rooms will debut & showcase the products that will impact every DJ business. Sponsored DJ Expo evening events will bring DJs together for unique networking opportunities and musical experiences featuring trendsetting DJs & hit making artists.

Future Music Forum

City: Barcelona, Spain

Month: September

Who should attend: Digital music entrepreneurs, music industry, investors, digital marketers, social media professionals, music tech companies and developers.

Future Music Forum is an international music conference based in Barcelona that gathers the leading minds in the world of music to exchange views on how music is being shared in today’s digital age and discuss new developments taking place in music technology.

Their aim to provide a professional yet relaxed platform to explore, engage and discuss these topics with over 200 selected groups of music futurists, label owners, managers, music and mobile technology entrepreneurs and digital music consumption analysts.

Loop Ableton

City: Funkhaus, Berlin

Month: November

Who should attend: Music makers, producers, technologists, educators, and creative thinkers

 Loop is three days of discussions, performances, presentations, studio sessions, installations and interactive workshops aimed at exchanging ideas at the cutting edge of music, technology and creative practice. Bringing together artists, technologists, educators and other creative thinkers, Loop is a collective exploration of what it is to make music today and what it could be tomorrow.

They believe that the most exciting developments in music are driven by conversation and exchange between interesting people. At Loop, a diverse range of music makers, thinkers and cultural creatives will gather to collaborate on new ideas, share new techniques, and make new connections.

By day, you’ll take part in discussions, participate in hands-on workshops and studio sessions, explore the work of other artists, and share your insights. By night, you can enjoy inspiring performances and meet like-minded creators from around the world.

Manifesto Festival of Community & Culture

City: Toronto, Canada

Month: June

Who should attend: Artists and creatives

Founded in 2007, the award-winning Manifesto Festival of Community & Culture is one of Canada’s biggest celebrations of hip hop culture and beyond – a multi-disciplinary, world-class festival with a positive social and economic impact.

But they’re more than just a festival. Manifesto is a non-profit, youth-powered platform designed to put local artists on the map and unite, inspire and empower diverse communities of young people through arts and culture, year-round.

Their programs aim to cultivate multi-disciplinary artistic and professional development for young people and artists across mediums. Building careers, fostering community connections and fuelling civic pride – all while contributing to the vitality of the city of Toronto.

Midem

City: Cannes, France

Month: June

Who should attend: Record labels, booking agents, A&R, promoters, artist managers, artists, music tech companies, producers, publishers, music supervisors, songwriters and media

Midem helps you grow your business internationally, providing you with the opportunity to reinforce and forge business connections all around the world, enable international music promotion and sign deals.

Copyright Summit: Exploring ways to protect creators' rights and determine the true value of music within the context of current copyright law reformations.

Legal Summit: A full update on the current and future legal developments in music and tech. This year's focus, Tech, Disruption and Evolution, will explore technology in music.

Global Sync and Brands Summit: Pitch your music to buyers from film, TV, gaming, agencies and brands for consideration in licensing opportunities. To be selected by the Midem team, please fill in this form.

Moog Fest

City: Durham, NC

Month: May

Who should attend: Artists, futurist thinkers, inventors, entrepreneurs, designers, engineers, scientists, and musicians.

Moogfest is a platform for conversation and experimentation. This conference attracts creative and technology enthusiasts for four days of participatory programming. Moogfest presents cutting-edge music in venues throughout the city. Performing artists include early pioneers in electronic music, alongside pop and avant garde experimentalists of today. Moogfest is the synthesis of music, art and technology to grow a global community of futurists who explore emerging sound technologies and design radical instruments for change

Red Bull Music Academy NYC

City: New York City, NY

Month: April-May

Who should attend: Artists, producers, music makers, music industry and creatives

The Red Bull Music Academy is a global music institution committed to fostering creativity in music. The Red Bull Music Academy is a world-traveling series of music workshops and festivals: a platform for those who make a difference in today’s musical landscape

 #RBMANYC features live performances, parties, lectures and workshops. The festival explores and celebrates the city’s rich cultural heritage, while also spotlighting the contemporary musicians currently shaping this heritage.

SF Music Fest

City: San Francisco, CA

Month: October

Who should attend: Music tech companies, developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians

The SF MusicTech Summit brings together visionaries in the evolving music/business/technology ecosystem, along with the best and brightest developers, entrepreneurs, investors, service providers, journalists, musicians, and organizations who work with them at the convergence of culture and commerce.

SXSW

City: Austin, TX

Month: March

Who should attend: Record labels, booking agents, A&R, promoters, artist managers, artists, music tech companies, filmmakers, producers, publishers, music supervisors, songwriters and media 

The SXSW Conference provides an opportunity for global music professionals at every level to participate, learn, and network. Experts and thought leaders will guide you through today’s multifaceted and global music business. Learn about bleeding-edge innovations and get real-world advice and thoughtful examinations of our industry that can help you succeed as a professional, entrepreneur, or artist.

Need more advice? Read other chapters of our Artist Guide here.  

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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.

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