Concert Management vs. Conference Management: What’s The Difference?

Last Updated on October 7, 2021

Since we all know a lot more about conferences and trade shows, we’re going to be looking at things from that perspective. Precisely how do the two differ from one another?

First, let’s start with how they’re similar. As with conferences, it’s important that you understand your primary demographic when running a concert – what sort of genre do fans of the headlining band prefer? What artists do they like, and which do they prefer to avoid?

Promotion is also just as important; you need to know how to get people hyped up about an upcoming show (although with a concert, that’s generally a task that falls to the band’s manager). Last, but certainly not least, there’s the matter of event staff. As with any event, you need both venue staff and security personnel to ensure that things go as smoothly as possible.

Right; now that we’ve gotten the similarities out of the way, what are the differences?

Well, primarily…it’s a matter of where you place your focus.  See, if you’re running a conference or trade show, then you’re working from a core concept – it doesn’t so much matter what personalities are in attendance. Any partners you invite – guest speakers, industry experts – are there to work for your event, not the other way around.

With a concert, it’s the opposite case – your event is working for the musicians. You’re planning things entirely around the band, and whatever you’re trying to accomplish with the show comes secondary to the musical talent. Your guests are there solely to see the show.

What’s more, a conference generally offers a wider range of activities than a concert. At a convention, for example, you might have a game room, guest speakers, celebrity appearances, movie showings…you get the idea.  At a show, there’s just the music.

That means a few different things. For one, there aren’t going to be as many vendors – you might have a few people selling food, and a merchandise booth for whatever bands are performing. There’s not going to be much aside from that.

It also means that you need to focus even more on your speakers – or in this case, performers – than you ordinarily would.  See, most concerts have at least one or two bands opening for the headliner – and assuming the main band’s manager isn’t handling the details, it’ll fall on you to select additional artists for the show. Make sure you’ve a good musical ear – and a good idea of who’s attending.

In spite of all their differences, concerts do have a great deal in common with conferences and trade shows. It takes the same basic set of skills to successfully run either, after all.