Information is power. Where you receive that information can determine how powerful your impact can be. There are literally hundreds of music conferences per year, but only a few of them are worth your time and precious money. SoulTrain.com acts as a filter for you as we give you the best conferences to attend to further your craft.
New Music Seminar (www.newmusicseminar.com)
Unlike a lot of conferences, the New Music Seminar’s sole focus is the upstart independent. Spanning all genres, the conference is dedicated to properly educating new and slightly established artists in the ever-growing new music industry. Headed by music veteran Tom Silverman, the New Music Seminar boasts a very unique feature in its “Artist On The Verge” Showcase. Hundreds of unsigned artists from across the country are handpicked by a staff of industry professionals as nominees. The finalists are then flown to New York where the winner receives over $100,000 in promotional and career support through the various sponsors. For those who may seem skeptical of your chances at this, the writer of this article himself is a two time NMS: Artist On The Verge nominee.
One of the more famous and established music conferences is the SXSW (South By Southwest) Music Conference. Started in 1987 in Austin, TX, SXSW was created with the intention of bridging the gap between the majors and indies. Throughout the years its panels and showcases have presented artists who have gone on to major success, including Hanson, John Mayer, James Blunt, and Dawn Richard. Though not as attuned to R&B and soul music as it is to rock, SXSW is still a place to be as an independent artist.
ASCAP “I Create Music Expo” (www.ascap.com)
ASCAP is the oldest performing rights organization in America. As such it holds a vast amount of weight in the work of songwriting and publishing. In 2006 ASCAP launched the “I Create Music Expo” in Los Angeles, CA, in an effort to advance the careers of its associated songwriters and publishers. It is the only conference dedicated solely to songwriting. From panels, to songwriting showcases, to one-on-one sessions, the “I Create Music Expo” brings some of the world’s top songwriters and producers together to help the next generation of composers excel in their crafts.
The International Soul Summit (http://www.soulmusicsummit.net)
Perhaps the only music conference in the world that is truly tailor-made for soul music and R&B is the Atlanta, GA-based International Soul Music Summit. The brainchild of music veteran Terry Bello, the Soul Summit has boasted an A-list of panel members from the field of soul music including Bilal, Eric Roberson, Raphael Saadiq, Anthony David, Algebra, Dionne Farris, and many more. The 3-day event includes artist showcases, networking sessions, an awards show. This conference is highly recommended for any artist looking to kick-start their career in soul music.
A3C Hip Hop Conference (http://www.a3cfestival.com)
I know what you’re saying: this is a hip-hop festival. There is a very important reason this conference made the list. It is this writer’s opinion that R&B and soul got a little too comfortable in the major label system. R&B’s most recent success is due in part to the rise of the independent R&B artist. Up and coming singers must learn to operate as their own indie businesses instead of waiting for the magical moment to “get discovered.” Hip-hop, in its essence, is very aggressive from the music to the marketing. A3C brings to light those traits that a lot of indie artists–both hip-hop and R&B–tend to lack. Perhaps taking three days out to venture to Atlanta, GA for this conference could be the difference maker in how successful your next marketing plan is.
So now you’ve got your info. It’s time to pack your bags, demos, and wallets and hit the road!