*Editors Note: I worked for IMFCON as a sales rep over the last couple months part time. Even though I worked for them I am going to give a completely unbiased review.
Unlike many of my friends, I can make it through most festival weekends with my voice going strong. In fact, of the seventeen festivals I attended this summer I only lost my voice at Coachella Weekend 1 and Burning Man. After three days of attending the International Music Festival Conference, IMFCON for short, I have almost zero voice left from all of the networking I did. Along with the opportunity to network with music and film festival executives, IMFCON also included trade-show demonstrations and relevant festival related panels led by industry leaders.
The most impressive part of IMFCON to me was how accessible and open all of the attendees were. Festival organizers and festival companies didn’t seem to care if you had been in the industry for two months or twenty years. Everyone was excited to meet you and learn ways we can work together to continue improving festivals.
The panels at IMFCON were created with festival organizers in mind to help build their knowledge on relavant festival topics with the help of peers and experts on the subject.
The topics on the panels I attended included:
- Anatomy of a festival: Burning Man.
- Open Keynote: Martin Atkins, Best Speaker On The Planet.
- Alternative Ticketing & Social Media.
- Ticket Master: The Rise of the Concert Industry
- Integrated Weather Services for the Event Industry
- Challenges in Talent Selection
- Festival Sponsorship Strategies
- Hope for the Best, Prepare for the Worst: Managing Risk at Your Festival
- Agent/Talent Buyer Panel – “Show me the Money”
- Promoting your Festival through Social Media Tools
Each panel had a mix of experts that covered every aspect of the topic. This made the panels very interesting as you would get such different views to completely cover the topic. I also enjoyed how they did a great job of allowing the audience to be involved and ask questions along the way. I think this was very beneficial as the audience was able to have their specific questions answered. This open forum worked out most of the time but I think the moderators need to make sure to keep the flow a little more on track for next year. Overall the panels were a very wonderful learning experience.
The trade show offered companies a chance to show exactly what their company is all about. Representatives from ticketing companies, RFID manufactures, porta potty companies, online job forums, mobile lockers, as well as mobile app developers had the opportunity to set up a booth and show the benefits of working with their company to the festival executives in attendance.
The networking is what really makes IMFCON such an incredible opportunity. I was surprised that most festivals and festival related companies that were in attendance sent their executive producers and talent buyers. These executives came to learn and make connections with the goal of continuing to improve their festival year after year. It was so refreshing to see how passionate everyone in the industry is about their festivals and ways they could all work together in the future. After three days of networking I walked away with 68 business cards of people that are excited to work with me in one way or another, a wealth of new festival knowledge that I could not have learned anywhere else, and hope that these new
contacts friends are the catalyst to help achieve my goal of uniting the festival crowd.
While these three main components of the conference were very well done there was definitely room for improvement. There was some confusion during the opening morning about the best ways to find the agenda. The UN-conference, a set networking function, was a little too organized which led to the speaker having to break up conversations to stay on task. On a whole these are very easy fixes but go to show that there is no such thing to a perfect conference.
If you are in the festival industry, or if you want to be, and are debating coming to IMFCON next year I would DEFINITELY do so. No festival is perfect and you owe it to your attendees to do everything possible to continue to take the experience to new heights. At IMFCON you will learn something that you would never have learned otherwise. You will also make a contact that will change your future in the industry for the better. This alone will justify the price of a ticket. The special thing about IMFCON is you could learn 20 important lessons and meet 50 important people that can all help your festival or business going forward.
If you have any questions about the experience at IMFCON feel free to message me at Tucker @ TheFestivalGuy.com. The more people that we have attend the better it is for the festival industry as well as the IMFCON experience. See you in 2013!