After my last post about how Bemidji State University is using Sonicbids to book artists for their coffeehouse acts, Nancy Oeswein of Auburn Moon Agency sent me a detailed email outlining why online booking is no substitute for the value of a face-to-face programming conference.
Nancy is a good friend of mine as well as to many student activity advisors and student leaders across the country. The bottom line is she cares. She cares about the artists she represents, she cares about the programming quality at each school, and she cares about the entire college entertainment market. She cares so much that she participates in several boards to discuss the future of student activities.
Online showcasing and online artist booking are hot issues and the debate will continue well past this post because technology is increasing exponentially. Sonicbids is just the start.
I fall on the side of using technology to increase the effectiveness of face-to-face moments, not to replace it. I think technology can go a long way in improving programming conferences, but as for now, I don’t think it can, nor should replace the conferences.
Here are several quotes from Nancy’s email:
- Conferences provide networking opportunities among student leaders, people who share their passions, people who might have solutions to their problems, people who might hire them.
- Conferences provide hours of educational sessions targeted at their specific needs in all aspects of programming
- The experiential education of participating in the conference process from ed sessions, networking, showcasing, volunteering, co-op buying, building relationships could not be taught in a year of classroom work
- Personal enrichment…I was a student myself in NACA and I remember my conference experiences now 20+ years later….I probably couldn’t describe one class I took in any detail.
- Technology is a pale, pale replacement for face to face contact with Artists & Agents.
- Every year I am approached by students who tell me I changed their life…thru a conversation, an example, an ed session; I don’t think that has ever happened with one I didn’t meet face to face.
- The whole point of showcases is to see how Artist engages students live. As an agent, I can tell you that maybe 5% of my Artist’s videos really capture the magic that they create Live. It’s nearly an impossible feat. And there isn’t a week that goes by that I don’t hear a student or advisor complain that they had a bad behavioral or performing experience with someone they found on the internet (without benefit of agency screening or what self-repped Artists learn from participating in APCA or NACA conferences). The opportunity to engage Artists in conversation teaches you a lot about their appropriateness. I know we spend hours conducting interviews and reference checks and screen hundreds of Artists every year to pick 1 or 2 new ones. There is so much that goes in to making a good college act beyond who has a friend with access to great professional video equipment. If a picture is worth a thousand, a video is worth ten thousand, then a live showcase in front of an audience of your peers is worth a million in what it can tell you about that Artist.
- Showcase selection committees typically have years of experience and spend 4 non-stop days pouring thru and evaluating submission materials, that include a wide variety of background and info. In addition to all the other enrichment of the conference, the students get to see live the fruits of those labors…so much more time effective than spending days pouring over EPKs that haven’t been screened by any agency or committee.
- Ultimately the fact that this is so much LESS cost effective for Artists will eventually drive up costs significantly to schools or bankrupt most Agencies & artists.
- CO-OP BUYING saves schools thousands every year. It’s never been done effectively on-line.
- My company has done 15,000+ shows on college campuses in 14 years, plus everyone here was a student and/or advisor in NACA/APCA before becoming an agent….we have screened and referenced checked and spend hundreds of hours preparing and educating our Artists about the road, and how to be both appropriate and to ensure that they are engaging on college campuses…our Artists are more accountable for their actions with the power of an agency that is providing their livelihood….etc. etc…..I don’t think anyone could possibly question that we have something to teach students every day about selecting, promoting and producing shows. The relationships students develop with experienced professionals committed to teaching them could not be replaced by a sonic community.