It's fair to say that this year GlitchCon will be my very first and ONLY convention I've ever built. I don't claim to know everything or really a whole lot. I do know a few things though, and it occurs to me that the mistakes people make when building a convention OR event are common and obvious if you've been around the convention circuit for more than a couple of years.
1) "I'll start up a convention so all my friends can get together and we can hang out, watch anime/sci fi , game, and stay up all night partying!
A convention is NOT a social gathering for those who run it. It's a business. It has to make money. If it doesn't make money it goes under. If you want to hang out, watch anime or sci fi, dress up, and see your friends .... go to someone elses convention. Conventions usually run in the price range of 20,000 dollars and UP. Unless you don't mind blowing a small fortune on a party seriously consider NOT starting a convention.
A secondary thing to consider is that the people RUNNING the convention do not much get to hang out at it. We're usually too busy running from point A to point B putting out fires (code for taking care of problems and the needs of the convention events) rather than setting around chillen with friends.
It is fun to get to set down and hang out late when things wind down but half the time if you're realy working a convention you're way too busy to hang out most of the weekend.
2) "This con sucks. I'm going to start my own and it'll be WAY BETTER than THIS convention!"
Gathering the start up capitol for a convention is hard. Getting people to volunteer up months of their LIVES to get YOUR event off the ground is even harder. After you get the mechanics of it running THEN you get to consider how to artistically skupt it to be a thing of beauty. Sad isn't it? Something that's entirely purposed to support certain artistic movements is really more about business than the art?
Well, artists have to eat. Hotels have to pay bills, and if no one gets paid they can't continue making art. They have to spend more time at their desks or take on an extra job delivering pizzas.
This also applies to DJing. Consider it. Consider it hard.
3) "I know a guy who knows a guy who can help us get this actor/Voice actor/artist to show up! This is going to be easy!"
I've already covered the fact that it's hard to build a convention, but this is worth re-enforcing: The assets you often think you have (especially if they're people who talk a big game about knowing someone or being able to do ANYTHING that will support your convention) are often made up of smoke and mirrors. BE CERTAIN of your resources or don't even start to attempt unless you enjoy watching the floor dissipate under your feet and falling to a very gorey and painful financial death with everyone wondering what the hell you were thinking.
NO REALLY. Even with all of the resources I have after working multiple conventions for the last few years I've been djing and with the strong reputation I have with the people I have as my core staff it's NOT EASY getting things lined up on time in an orderly fashion.
I say again, Organizing a convention isn't work it's hard f'ing work. If you ever considering building a convention prepare yourself for a heavy heavy workload on top of everything else you do.
4) "Everyone will show up and we'll have a really good time."
Getting people to show up to an event is harder than you think. First off, if you experience ANY amount of success in event building SOMEONE SomEWHERE is going to find a reason to try and knee cap you. Be it a crazed ex girl friend, a competeing event organizer, or maybe that kid you pissed off when you hit on his girl friend ten years ago at some party you forgot about. Trust me. They always find a reason to turn on you and then go completley crazy starting rumors about you, your event, and maybe even your pets. It's not fun wearing a big target. Take it from me. 2009 was the year I got to wear the target and I wasn't even building the event. IT SUCKED.
5) "Those djs and those organizers? They're making money!"
*faints from laughter*
If you have any notion that you're going to make money building events the first few years you organize events please check yourself into a mental ward.
I'm not saying it's impossible as a start up, but the facts are the facts. Most start up events lose money. Many long running events lose money. We're in the middle of a recession. You are almost gauranteed to lose money. Don't kid yourself. No really.
Even if you manage to get paid for djing or organizing on some level... you'll likely have spent more on equipment, music, fees, hotels, food, and/or *insert everything else here* that you'll walk away with a hole in your pocket. If you're lucky it's a small hole. If you're unlucky...
Well... remember Ravenwood Festival? There's a reason it no longer exists. I made almost all of these mistakes running it.
DON'T follow in my foot steps. I made the mistakes. You really don't have to.
6) "Dear GAWD you've scared me away from organizing events."
Good. If you're that thin skinned then you can't handle it. Running events is high stress low return heavy money loss and requires a lot of f'ing heart to do for more than a year. If you want to hang in the organizer crowd beyond organizing house parties put on some body armor, come with a chunk of change, and be prepared to work your ass off for the few dozen people who bother to say thank you.
Because most everyone else will come, party, go home, and then complain that they had to pay ten bucks to get in after you lost 500 dollars throwing them a party.
The artists and the core supporters are what keep an organizer going. At least, in my humble opinion based on my experience.
*The opinions in this blog are the sole opinions of this dj and organizer and do not necessarily reflect the opinions of his staff, friends, and or colleagues in the industry*
(Over glorified button pusher of doom)