[With Atlanta’s A3C fest going down this week, festival director Mike Walbert talks to SOHH about the importance of artists soaking in everything the five-day event has to offer.]

I do this full-time now so I’m often the guy behind the black curtain. In my world, it’s a thankless job. No one comes to the director and says thanks so I appreciate hearing the artists enjoying it.

That’s the purpose. The first purpose of A3C when we set this was saying we could create the biggest platform in the world for up-and-coming artists.

At the time, I was working with some up-and-coming artists. I was a manager and I had left South By Southwest and thought, “Wow, what an amazing experience. Why isn’t there anything like this for hip-hop?”

I felt like it was the right time and the right place. I felt there was a lot of interest in it because I had seen people go to South By Southwest and saw they were really frustrated with it because they couldn’t find their lane and didn’t know what to do or where to go.

At A3C, you can have lunch and meet somebody that’s important. You could wake up, go down and get a cup of coffee at your hotel and meet one of your heroes or meet a producer that you like.

My point being that was really the purpose. We wanted to create a gathering of a large group of people with like minds.

The artists get out of what they put into it. If you come here, engaged, put up, connect, learn, network, you’re going to get a lot out of it.

There’s some artists who can’t perform because at the end of the day, there’s a limited amount of spots. But even if you can’t perform, don’t worry. You can get more done off stage than on stage.

You can perform for 20 or 30 minutes in front of 300 people but 1 person could be bigger than all those.

So come here and engage. Enjoy it.

I’m busy on-site worrying about production and making sure everyone is having a good time. At the end of the day, artists are our number one priority and people that we’re serving.

For more on this week’s A3C Fest, keep it locked to SOHH.com and check out A3CFestival.com