This weekend marked the first annual Elm City Music Fest, a three-day long concert held in nearby Hamden, Connecticut.
While the organizers of the festival hoped that the event would provide entertainment for concert-goers, the weekend was also an opportunity for artists and the broader public to learn about the business-side of the music industry through afternoon workshops and panels that preceded evening performances. Vic Steffens, owner of Horizon Music Group and one of the organizers of the event, said the weekend was inspired by similar events such as the Liberty Fest in Philadelphia, Penn., and the Dewey Beach Music Conference in Dewey Beach, Del. He added that the event — which was jointly sponsored by the Philadelphia-based booking and touring company DVT Events — was an opportunity for representatives from the music industry to scout for rising talent.
A 45-year veteran of the industry, Steffens said events such as the Elm City Music Festival can help create a mutually beneficial relationship between artists and record label executives. He added that this was especially important given the rapidly changing landscape of the industry and how the Internet has devalued an artist’s music and made it easy for fans not to have to pay for music.
Over a three-day period, the festival hosted eight panels and workshops on topics ranging from the relationship between producers and engineers to the logistics behind planning a music tour. According to the Elm City Music Festival’s website, the panels were not only an educational opportunity for artists but also a chance for them to network among one another and with industry representatives.
Jeanine Moss, lead singer from the Brooklyn-based group J and the 9s and a performer at the festival, said the panels offered an opportunity for artists to learn about one another and might lead to either future collaboration or joint tours.
“A lot of performers are so focused on their art that they miss the business side of things. That’s the bottom line behind these shows, the networking,” said Vince Volz, the owner of DVT Events.
He added that music is a competitive business just like any other industry, and too many artists neglect this aspect of their careers.
The festival’s panels boasted some leading figures in the field such as Senior Vice President of RCA Records Bob Anderson, former head of Warner/Chappell Music Alan Tepper and former editor of Billboard Magazine Paul Sacksman.
Volz said such panel guests are influential figures who could directly and powerfully impact a rising artist’s career.
Still, despite these opportunities, artists said they were disappointed with the small audience present at the concert. Nico Rivers, a Boston-based singer-songwriter, said he wished the organizers had promoted the event more aggressively and reached out to local college students. But Moss said she saw the event as more of a networking opportunity with other artists and executives rather than as a performance.
Steffens admitted that he and the fellow organizers could have done a better job promoting the event. He also added that they had not begun planning for the festival until September and will start doing so earlier next year.
Louis deLise, president and chief creative officer of deLise Studios based out of Philadelphia, said the festival was terrific and that it offered “probably the best music conference panels” compared to similarly sized events in the region.