7 Ways to Save Money When Attending a Music Conference

Paul Cargnello

Bandzoogle is gearing up to attend lots of music conferences over the next few months, and we know many members will be doing the same thing (get in touch if you are attending any of these events ). It can be expensive to attend a music conference, so this blog post will go over some ways you can try and save some money.

The following post is taken from my eBook “Attending Music Conferences 101”. From pre-conference planning, showcasing & networking, to the post-conference follow-up, it offers a step-by-step look at the music conference experience and how to maximize it from a musician’s point of view. The eBook can be downloaded for FREE: Download eBook


7 Ways to Save Money When Attending a Music Conference


Music conferences are an amazing opportunity to network, meet new people, and move your career forward. But, they can be quite expensive as well. Here are some ways you can save money when attending a conference so that it doesn’t totally break the bank:

1. Volunteer for the conference

If you plan far enough ahead, and if you are willing to sacrifice some of your free time while at the conference, offer to volunteer. Conferences are always looking for good volunteers, and they are often artists. You can sometimes get your conference fee waived, or at least waived on the days that you volunteered.

But be prepared to work hard. If you show up late and you’re tired and/or hung-over because of all-night partying, chances are you won’t be asked back again. Remember, you might be dealing with the very people who could be deciding whether you get a showcase or not at a future conference. Arrive early. Be extremely polite. Work hard. Make the conference proud that they chose you as a volunteer.

2. Split hotel room with someone

This one is a no-brainer, of course. If you’re attending a conference alone but want to save money on the hotel room, try and find someone to share the room with. Chances are that there are plenty of other like-minded people in the same boat.

If the conference has a Facebook page, post on their wall that you are looking for a roommate. Same thing for Twitter, follow the conference on Twitter and Tweet that you’re looking for a roommate, and politely ask if they could re-tweet (RT) to their followers. You could also tag your tweet with a hashtag # for the conference, so other people can find your tweet in a search.

Another option is contacting the conference by e-mail and asking if they know of anyone looking for a hotel roommate. Chances are they have received similar messages and can put you in touch with those people.

3. Bring your own food

One way to save money that your Mom has probably already taught you is to pack a lunch! Specifically, bring lots of snacks. While at a conference, you’ll likely do more snacking than sitting down to eat large meals, as you’ll constantly be on the go. Chips and candies are an option, but healthier choices like nuts, dried fruit, power bars, etc., will help you avoid burning out. Being at a music conference can already put a lot of stress on your system, if you add junk food and high doses of salt and sugar, you’re just asking for a crash.

4. Shop for groceries

When you check-in to your hotel, ask where the nearest grocery store is. Room service can certainly be convenient late at night, however if you plan ahead, you can save a bunch of money and find healthier options at a grocery store. Load up on the aforementioned healthy snacks, plus pre-made sandwiches (to save on time) and lots of veggies.

5. Go to showcases that have food

Run out of snacks? Couldn’t make it to the grocery store before it closed? Don’t worry, you don’t have to go to bed hungry. Many showcase venues/rooms provide food & snacks as a way of enticing people to come check out the showcase. Keep a look out, ask around, and check your Twitter feed, word spreads quickly where to find free food.

6. Getting to the conference: Carpool, Bus, Train

Sometimes travelling by plane is unavoidable. However, often artists will carpool together and make a road trip out of it. Similar to finding hotel roommates, ask around and see if anyone in your town is driving to the conference, or passing through on their way. Every year artists from my hometown of Montreal organize carpools heading to Toronto for CMW or NXNE, and sometimes even a long-distance road trip to Austin for SXSW or Memphis for Folk Alliance. If you’re on a tight budget, this could be a great money-saver.

If carpooling isn’t an option, look for deals to travel by train or bus. Often trains and buses will have free WiFi so you can also be productive on your way to the conference.

7. Stay at a cheaper hotel

Another idea to save some money would be to stay at a different hotel than the one hosting the conference. Use a combination of Google Maps and travel deal websites to find the best options. There will no doubt be other hotels close to the host hotel that are cheaper.


Have you done any of these things to save money when attending a music conference? Is there anything you would add to the list? Please leave your comments below!


vogelJoy - Kid's Music - Children's entertainers in Ontario
Your own food will taste way better anyway! =)
Posted by SeeTalkGrow on Feb 15 2012 12:10 AM
Staying with friends / relatives instead of a hotel is also a SUPER way to save. PLUS - instead of eating out, visit the local grocery and get some simple things to tide you over when you don't want to spend $20 for lunch. PB&Js are awesome ;) You just have to make sure (if you don't have a fridge in your hotel room / wherever you're staying) not to get stuff that needs to be refrigerated.
Posted by Deuce on Feb 15 2012 3:46 PM
I know one way to save $$....don't go! HA!
Yancy & Yancy And the Good'Uns
Posted by Yancy & Yancy And the Good'Uns on Feb 15 2012 4:26 PM
about to attend the Folk Alliance conference in Memphis next week. Ways we will save this week. Design and print our own artist cards. Since we live in Memphis we are volunteering. This also means we will stay and eat in our own home. Instead of giving out a Huge amount of CDs , we are giving a few to key folks and sending the others to Bandzoogle to our site with the promise that if they join our mailing list then they can get a download code. Next year the conference is in Toronto so we are already planning on touring all the way there, using Couch Surfers whenever possible and again volunteering.
Colorado Music Business Organization
Posted by Colorado Music Business Organization on Feb 15 2012 4:57 PM
[quote="wwwdeuceroxcom"]I know one way to save $$....don't go! HA![/quote] Too bad. You're not only missing out on a ton of fun but on tons of information, new friends in the same business, new ideas, and MOST IMPORTANTLY -- those connections you need to further your career.
Dave Cool
Posted by Dave Cool on Feb 16 2012 9:18 PM
@vogeljoy : Agreed! @SeeTalkGrow: Great point, thanks! @wwwdeuceroxcom: Hehe, indeed, but I'm a big fan of conferences, I think every artist/band should experience at least one in their career, they can be amazing learning experiences. @YancyandYancy: Bandzoogle will be in Memphis next week too, come say hello at the Business Center (10AM-2:30PM) or Exhibit Hall (3PM-6PM) Thanks for reading everyone, always appreciate the feedback. Cheers, DC
Posted by Deuce on Feb 27 2012 9:19 PM
Too bad. You're not only missing out on a ton of fun but on tons of information, new friends in the same business, new ideas, and MOST IMPORTANTLY -- those connections you need to further your career. It was a joke. We've been to alot of music conferences.