It’s no secret that New York is one of the greatest cities–if not THE greatest city–for all the arts, including music. It’s definitely a better city to break out as an artist than Boston, at least according to Claude Kelly, producer and co-writer of hits by Bruno Mars and Kelly Clarkson. This week, New York became an even more essential city for music as the 2012 New Music Seminar got under way. Bringing together artists and producers both established and emerging, influential figures from the music industry including labels and distributors, and members of all types of media (including yours truly), NMS2012 presented a brand new way to look at a music industry and scene that looks nothing like it did in previous years.
From June 17th to June 19th, and performances showcasing some buzzed-about artists until June 20th, NMS2012 hosted a(n almost overwhelming) series of events discussing almost every aspect of the music industry. Seminars focused on the subjects like “Producing Music for a Connected Society,” “9 Strategies to Maximize Artist Revenues in the Age of Facebook and Spotify,” and the BIG event June 18, “Music Labels: The Business Formerly Known as “Record Companies,” Sharing Visions for the Future of Music Labels and Expanding the Business Beyond Traditional Music Sales” (this one featured talks from heads of some of the biggest current labels and distributors).
The focus on business fits in with the goal of the event, since 2011 marked the year that the music industry hit bottom, what co-founder Tom Silverman called “the most disastrous 10-year decline in history.” Naturally, the most immediately noticeable vibe surrounding the seminar was one of optimism and discovery. Almost everyone brought their A-game, actively engaging the next label, artist, venue, distributors, media companies, and of course, blogs like Indie band Guru. Gone was the detached music-industry snootiness of yesteryear; everyone seemed to realize that for the music industry to survive it has to evolve, and so approachability and accessibility were more important than ever. There were probably more bridges built this year than burned.
So what does the New Music Seminar mean for an aspiring music professional? Just about everything. The seminar is when the music industry opens itself up to new partners and anyone else hoping to get in (as evidence by the $250-400 ticket price). It offers unprecedented access and networking opportunities to distributors and some surprisingly big names. Some of these big names—like Claude Kelly or head of Rostrum’s Benjy Grinberg—you have to chase down, but most will happily meet you, like CEO of eMusic Adam Klein. In an industry where connections are almost everything, the New Music Seminar is an essential event to make vital connections with industry professionals to take your career to the next step.
Word of advice, however: leave the press kits at home, and just bring lots and lots of business cards. This is a chance for YOU to make a first impression, regardless of the quality of your music. You’ll be surprised how often and how far this can take you.
-Anatole Ashraf of Indie Band Guru
Photo credits: Todd Owyoung