AFO conference

I'd never been to the Association of Festival Organisers (AFO) conference before, but I'd been intrigued. So when Hannah and Pete at Haystack Music asked if I could go along to set up their stall and give them a bit of a hand, I was delighted.

Festival organisers gather in Eastwood each year to discuss a range of different subjects - ticket fraud, are artists demanding too much? are there too many festivals? wet weather planning, etc - and network with agents, artists, insurers, development agencies, aided with much booze.

Haystack were there to get the eight artists on their roster in the eyeline of festival bookers and it worked - the buzz after one of their bands, Tyde, showcased on one of the main stages was really exciting.

And thank god for those heavenly devices: lanyards. OK, they look awful slung round your neck - especially if you've a large bosom - but I found that I could finally put faces to the names that I've seen at the end of reviews or press releases. I find the whole concept of 'networking' (read: schmoozing) really difficult: I stutter and stumble, go red in the face, undersell myself (if I manage to sell myself at all!) and get rather sweaty. But when I recognised the name and could instantly place where/when/who, at least it gave me a head start.

By the end of the weekend, I don't know why I had worried: I met some fantastically interesting and friendly people from all corners of the music industry, heard some great music and came back with my head filled with ideas. Oh, and a pounding headache.