The first time I attended the ASCAP Expo, I wasn’t sure what to expect. I had been to tons of industry events in the past, but never specifically to the ASCAP Expo. It was my first time, so I attended with an open mind and eager ears. I’d already been in the music industry for quite a very long time in fact, having even worked personally with some of the keynote speakers at their convention.

The first thing I noticed when I got there, was that it felt more catered toward the vendors than the musicians. It’s kind of like radio: sure they play music and provide value to the customer through hearing their favorite songs, but one can’t deny that the slant is massively leaned toward generating revenue through advertisements. I always say this to clients I work with who haven’t been in the game long and don’t understand radio, but the name of the game in radio is use music as bait to hook listeners, and advertise, advertise, advertise. It’s no different in television by the way. It’s never about the show. Just about numbers. So why bring this up in context with the ASCAP Expo?

Well, I bring it up because the ASCAP Expo isn’t just supposed to be something that serves a desired commodity (information) to a client/customer but the entire relationship between ASCAP and it’s customer is that it REPRESENTS the customers. That is the huge difference here. ASCAP represents you and your music. You give them the authority to collect monies on your behalf, THEN pay you after they’ve collected their share. In every single business, this is something called AGENCY, and it isn’t something to be taken lightly. Agency has massive implications for every business, customer, and corporation.

So let’s break down what the experience is like when you show up. Right after you pay your $400 to attend, you’ll be offered a chance to enter into some raffles by filling out your information and giving it to vendors. In this transaction, unless you are the one person who wins the raffle, you are actually giving away more value than you are being given. That’s because your contact information is like gold because it’s pre-qualified by the vendor as belonging to someone who’s already got interest in their product. That’s gold. Next, you will notice that there are tons of great networking opportunities. This is perhaps the strongest point in terms of why to attend this ASCAP Expo. The networking. If you think you’re going to find lots of agents of established artists, managers, and this sort of thing, that’s not going to happen. There are plenty of people involved in the careers of the other attendees, though.

There’s a lot of education happening as well. Songwriting critiques and things of this nature. But again, for the professional, it’s nothing you either don’t already know or can’t learn from a book. And you can’t possibly attend everything. Because while you’re attending one thing, there’s something else going on, so you have to choose: am I going to learn about mixing? Or am I going to learn about producing? What if you want to learn about both? The good news here is that when you get home, you can log in and access all of the training via their recorded videos on the ASCAP website. I also enjoyed the impromptu performances as well, some of which by artists you may not see otherwise performing. This makes for some pretty cool nostalgic moments, especially if you are a real music fan!

The take-away for me, was that it is a great place to network with other musicians, albeit networking that costs $400. If you’ve got the money to spend, and you enjoy networking (especially if you have services to sell people!) then it’s an amazing opportunity for that. It is more geared, I feel, toward aspiring musicians, who haven’t been in the industry long or who don’t know as much about, say, songwriting as a professional would, so the workshops can help you there. Or, if you’ve got the money and want to get out to L.A. and enjoy the weather while seeing new things, and you like networking, it’s not a bad idea. But if you’re looking for a place to meet up with professional booking agents, managers, label execs, etc, this isn’t really the place for that.

I would rate this opportunity 4 out of 5 stars for: strong networking, being in the presence of lots of creative energy, but not much in the way of professional relationships or agency connection.

Have you attended the ASCAP Expo? What was your experience like? Share in the comments below!

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