Nov 192011

You know the feeling. A great concert, a fabulous festival, an inspiring conference–and then you go home. The day job is there, the kids’ homework and after-school activities await, and even the dog is pissed at you for going away for a few days. Suddenly and surprisingly, your mood drops way below normal. What happened to the high from the big event?

My good friend Dr. Ruthie is a sex and relationship educator. She sees a similar let-down in the conferences in her field of work. She and many others use the term “con drop” to describe the low energy state after an intense, inspiring event. Check out her blog post on “Symptoms and Solutions For Con Drop.”

Music people can experience the same let-down after a big event, especially festivals and conferences where you get to hear so much great sound and meet so many people. I’ve just returned home from a super weekend at the Northeast Regional Folk Alliance, and my sluggish days afterward reminded me of Ruthie’s post. Allow me to borrow a bit from her and put my own spin on the aftermath of a big music event.

Be Your Own Best Secretary

Once you get home, you’ll want to remember and follow through on all the great conversations and experiences. There’s no way your brain will remember all the people you talked to, all the insights and inspirations you gained, and all the follow-up you want to do. You need to act like a secretary for a terribly busy big shot–keeping all the contacts and appointments organized.

When you are organized, you won’t be bumming and regretting afterward that you slept through some great stuff or got sick by not eating for a day and a half.

  • Take exhaustive notes. When you get a few minutes between sets and conversations, write down everything. Keep a journal describing everyone you talked to, all the acts you saw, and all of your impressions. It’s the only way you will retain those rapid fire impressions and details. The information will keep coming at you faster and faster, and your brain’s buffers will throw away lots of good stuff because they just can’t hold it all. Writing down all of your experiences will give you a chance later to sort and sift through things. You’ll have business cards, CDs, emails, flyers, and scribbles all over the place, so plan your strategy for organizing all those names, faces, times, and places.
  • Set a good schedule for your basic necessities. Make sure you have the meals figured out so you aren’t short-circuiting yourself by under-eating. Keep up with your hygiene. I keep hearing people complain about how stinky some folks get at festivals and conferences. Smelling bad makes for bad networking, no matter how pretty your business card, no mattter how good you sound. And make sure you have a good plan for sleep. That might mean napping at 3 pm so that you have the energy for 3 am jamming. But that 3pm nap might not happen if you don’t intentionally put a spot in your schedule for it.

Keep It Real With The networking

There are musicians and music-biz people who are all about selling themselves. The old maxim for musicians is, “Promote yourself, promote yourself, promote yourself.” You can act like a slimy used-car salesperson or a greedy preacher, willing to go to any length to make a deal. Or you can find a natural, authentic, and friendly way to connect with others.

there is a big difference that is easy to see when you are looking for it. Some performers are making a presentation, and others are engaged in two-way conversation. There’s a time to pitch yourself, sure. You got to get airplay and gigs. But there’s also a vibe of openness and community that some people have. They’re the ones who join into the jam session to jam and have fun, rather than to show what they got and to brag about who they jammed with later. They’re the musicians who listen to other musicians and become sincere fans, rather than simply sizing up the competition.

When you have the community approach to your networking, then you’ll have some new friends and contacts after the big event. When the let-down hits you, you’ll have a few nice emails coming in over the next few days that will help brighten the mood. Otherwise, you’ll be sitting at home wondering why plastering your thousands of flyers all ove the place didn’t really pan out.

Finding The Gaps

If you watch closely, you’ll see trends. The same two or three vocal licks or stylings being used, the sexy instrument of the season–it’s been the ubiquitous ukulele for the past few years. And you will see some gaps, some glaring absences. I saw two or three of these at NERFA, and I’m considering them as secret weapons. Of course there’s nothing automatic about doing something different from everyone else, but you might find that you have a unique aspect to your music that will be a breath of fresh air. That’s how fads and trends start–a lot of people start saying, “Wow, yeah, haven’t heard anything like that for a while!”

And no, I’m not going to give away my secrets. You’ll have to figure out your own secret weapons, or catch up with me some time next year.

What Are Your Experiences?

It’s not just for music festivals or conferences. The big let-down can ambush you after any event with intense emotions and energy. I wonder how many honeymoons have been derailed by day-after-huge-wedding drop. I don’t know for myself–both of my wedding ceremonies were very small, and I have never experienced a regular “honeymoon” at the all-inclusive resort, or whatever the kiddos go for nowadays.

What are your bummer hours or days like after a big event such as a huge concert or conference? Leave a comment and let us all know your experiences.

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