The Top Five Music Conferences for 2020

Many music conferences and expositions take place across the country each year. Deciding which one would be most beneficial to attend, and perhaps building the business case to attend, can be fun but challenging. Some are more targeted to educators, others to retailers, and still others to consumers. Let’s take a look at the five most important music conferences in 2020.


January in Los Angeles, CA

NAMM is a huge, international conference that showcases music, sound, and entertainment technology products. The NAMM vision statement commits to “a world in which the joy of making music is a precious element of daily living for everyone; a world in which every child has a deep desire to learn music and a recognized right to be taught; and in which every adult is a passionate champion and defender of that right.”

There is something for everyone at this event that features a wealth of educational sessions for both professional and market development. Rounding out the conference are the tradeshow, outstanding networking opportunities, and many live performances. Conference admission is inexpensive, but travel and accommodations can be pricey.

Midwest Clinic

December in Chicago, IL

The full name of this conference is The Midwest Clinic International Band and Orchestra Conference. The conference was first held in 1946 as a local event for Chicago area music directors. Over the years it expanded into an international event that attracts more than 18,000 attendees. Their mission statement promotes “international instrumental music education through extensive professional development opportunities, inspirational experiences and cultivation of rewarding professional relationships.”

This affordable conference is aimed at music education and is ideal for instrumental music teachers, fine arts administrators, both professional and amateur musicians, and music industry representatives. The Midwest Clinic offers a wide variety of clinics and exhibits, with a focus on industry trends and future topics in business and music education. With more than fifty live concerts to select from and extensive opportunity for networking, attendees will want to make this an annual event.

Texas Bandmasters Association

July in San Antonio, TX

The Texas Bandmasters Association was founded in 1920 by a small group of Texas bandmasters for the purposes of organizing band contests and promoting bands. It has grown into the largest annual state band organization in the world, hosting an annual conference in San Antonio, with more than 6,500 attendees. This reasonably priced conference is family friendly, offering activities for spouses and childcare.

The annual conference is packed with educational seminars, featuring tracks for middle school, high school, and college band leaders. It also includes a wide variety of performance groups and demonstrations. In addition, there is a one day academy aimed at new band directors and a student day. An expo featuring over 600 exhibitors and fun social activities fill out the agenda.

State Music Educator Conferences

Dates and Locations Vary by State

Most states have music education associations that hold annual conferences. This is a great way for music educators and administrators to attend a conference on a smaller budget. These state conferences offer educational sessions, performances, and tradeshows, along with the opportunity to network with peers. For some, a state conference might be an excellent choice because of the focus on state-specific laws and topics. NAfME (National Association for Music Educators) is a good source of information for state music conferences.

SXSW (South by Southwest)

March in San Antonio, TX

SXSW or South by Southwest was founded in 1987 and has grown into one of the most well-known and popular events in the world. It targets the film industry, the music industry, and interactive media, with festivals and conferences running concurrently. The music track for the 2020 conference includes such topics as Creating and Monetizing Music, The Future of Music, and a variety of professional development sessions, some that offer continuing education credits.

The entire SXSW event runs for ten days. Attendees can custom tailor their experience by choosing just one conference track, or perhaps by registering for SXSW EDU for four days of learning and inspiration. Because of the length and depth of this event, prospective attendees should carefully research options in order to maximize their experience.