Baltimore Does It Big With Its First Music Conference
by Winston "Stone" Ford
It's been a long time coming, but in September, Baltimore will host its first music conference ever. The Couch Sessions spoke with Artondra Hall, the conference's volunteer coordinator, to learn more about the event and what (and who) to expect.
Can you give an overview of the Baltimore Music Conference?
The Baltimore Music Conference (BMC) is a two-day Conference designed to cultivate, celebrate, and educate about Baltimore's best-kept creative secrets. For some time, many of us have been waiting for something to happen in this town that would significantly impact our hometown music scene. Our wait is over. A number of musicians, DJs, clubs, studios, sponsors, and creative people of all walks have banded together to stage the Baltimore Music Conference. This effort, the first of its kind in this town, will not only serve to spotlight local musical talent, it will facilitate networking opportunities and plant seeds for the future of our creative efforts. We are expecting a very diverse and eclectic audience, among them will be local and regional media, business and civic leaders, various artisans, city officials, area celebrities, and music fans from Baltimore, DC, Philadelphia, Northern Virginia and the world.
The Conference will take place in Patterson Park, a visible downtown location known for large-scale events which draw a varied consumer demographic. This first time event promises to bring recognition to the music of Baltimore and to those that make it happen as well as to the city itself.
The Conference will be held on September 24th and 25th, 2005, from 10:00 AM to 9:00 PM on Saturday and 10AM to 6PM on Sunday.
What obstacles, if any, did you encounter while organizing the conference?
Funding, I think, is the number one obstacle any new venture faces. The resources are there, but you have to really go after them. And this has been a big challenge for the BMC as well. This is a new idea, a new concept, and it is taking time for people to buy into it.
Getting people involved has been another big hurdle. We need people to volunteer on all levels to help make this Conference successful. We want diversity in the music we are offering to showcase for public consumption, but we can't get that diversity if we aren't getting enough people to participate in the Conference. Having a solid Street Team has been a vital resource in getting the word out about the Conference and getting the needed volunteers.
What was the driving motivation for organizing the conference? Why did you take it upon yourself to work so hard to make this event happen?
I'm just one of the number of people who has dedicated their time to making this event happen. For me it is the love of music and the need for local and regional talent to finally garner the recognition of major labels. The plethora of talent in this city is amazing, yet virtually unknown. Musicians and DJ's alike struggle to be heard, not only by the citizens of this great city, but by people worldwide. Not having the resources to get signed to a major record label, they sadly remain true to their love of the music, but falsely to their hope of being discovered. We want to remove that false hope and make that happen for them.
This is Baltimore's first music conference. Why has something like this never come together before?
I think the reason why something like this hasn't come to fruition before is timing and resources. At this time, Baltimore has seen a major reconstruction and revitalization of its business and entertainment districts. With this wave of revitalization and renovation, people are starting to take more of an interest in what is occurring in their own backyards. And, I believe that the timing couldn't have been better for the Conference. We get to capitalize on this renewed public interest in arts and entertainment. In turn, this interest has paved the way to acquiring the needed resources to produce the Conference and the opportunities it affords.
What has response been like for the conference so far?
The response has been incredible. People are responding from half a world away about performing at the Conference. So the word is getting out.
Let's say I'm an aspiring artist and I really want the exposure the conference can provide. What's the first thing I need to do?
All performers need to complete an application, which can be downloaded from the website, and submit two copies of your music on CD. Live musicians and bands must submit a minimum of three original tracks. DJs must submit a live-recorded mix set. We also need a 50-word description that includes the styles of music you play.
Who all can participate?
Participation in the Conference is open to all that are interested. There seems to be some misconception running through the rumor mills about this that needs to be cleared up. This conference is for ALL genres of music. From rock to jazz, punk to classical, blues to EDM.
You're planning on developing a compilation CD for bands that are interested in being featured. How will that work?
We are still working on the details of the compilation CD at this time.
Will you have any advice for those who are trying to follow in the footsteps of Baltimore breakout artists Dru Hill and Mario?
There will be seminars and workshops given by industry experts. Proposed seminars include legal issues and contracts, work opportunities for performers, how to engineer your recordings, and marketing and promoting.
Can we expect to see future music conferences in Baltimore?