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Millennium Music Conference Recap, Day Two

February 15, 2009 - Jim Price
The 13th annual Millennium Music Conference is happening in the Harrisburg area this weekend.  I’ll continue to bring you updates from the conference through the course of the weekend.

The second day of the trade show and business sessions saw steady traffic throughout the Radisson, from visiting musicians and conference attendees.  I found it interesting that with the current economic and money problems impacting the music business along with everybody else, that more musicians seemed to be attending the business sessions and panels this year; apparently paying more serious attention to the information and advice available to help their careers to survive.  When the seminars got under way, the trade show floor area largely emptied out and traffic through the floor area thinned.

I attended one seminar again this day.  The Music Industry Educators panel utilized the resource of academia to guide musicians in their career endeavors.  The panel included Terry Tompkins of Drexel University, Jeff Snyder of Lebanon Valley Community College, Dr. E. Michael Harrington of William Patterson University in New Jersey, Amy Warner of Shippensburg University, and Carole Knisely of Harrisburg Area Community College.  This panel discussed how the traditional business models by which the music industry has operated for years have been turned upside-down by the technology age and the economic climate.  The longtime vision that artists embraced of getting signed to a record deal has long ago lost its luster.  CD and album sales continue to diminish, and record labels are no longer signing new bands or artists unless they already have a proven track record of selling CD’s or packing venues.  So more now than ever, musicians have to learn more wide-ranging strategies for surviving in the industry; including marketing, promotion, business management and other entrepreneurial aspects of running a band as a business.  The panel suggested internet research and continuous networking as ways to open and locate opportunities to expand musical careers and increase revenue streams through music. 

The panel then opened the floor to questions.   One of the more interesting questions was from a tuition-paying parent who wondered which schools could best assure job placement in the industry for his kid after graduation.  The panel said there is no guarantee of job placement after graduation, and that students needed to be bold and enterprising, taking the initiative to research careers and job openings in the music industry before they collect their degrees.  Internships were also suggested as a criteria to consider when selecting a school for a student wishing to land a job in the music industry.  One musician asked how to land shows in new markets; the panel responded that once a band has conquered its own backyard, to use their pull in that market to attract gig swaps with bands in other markets, in order to land opening slots in those bands’ territories.

For the rest of the afternoon, I networked with musicians and other music-geared folks making their ways around the trade show, and checked out the various performers gracing the Pennsylvania Musician-sponsored acoustic stage.  Some of the performers this day included New York singer, songwriter and experimental artist Will Hanza, New York hard rockers Stark, York-based singer/songwriter Brian Jackson, Mifflintown-based acoustic duo Holloe, New York hard rockers Finespun, Princeton-based acoustic performer Sarah Donner, Washington D.C.’s Darren Mastropaolo, Happy Valley’s Joel Dobbins and Altoona-based rockers Spirit Lost.  Perhaps the most interesting act to grace the acoustic stage this day, though, was Brooklyn-based group Kagero.  The self-described “Japanese gypsy rock band” did a unique style of worldly folk that was different yet accessible and listenable.  Singer, guitarist and harmonica player Kaz (a Japanese native) and bassist Rob performed two songs, “From Africa” and “Jakarta,” both which captivated the attentions of passers-by, and received loud rounds of applause from the crowd.

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The Music Industry Educators panel.


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