The third annual Elm City Music Festival, one of New Haven’s only annual musical festivals, took place this weekend.

The event was organized by Philadelphia-born musician Brian Cronin, who owns Mirror Image Media. Cronin said that he usually draws artistic talent from surrounding states to perform at the festival. But this year, New Haven artists accounted for half of the performances. The festival featured workshops and networking events for emerging artists, as well as more than 100 musical acts from Nov. 3 to Nov. 5.

“The purpose of the festival is to allow artists to promote and spread the word about their music,” Cronin said. “I wanted to change up the music palette and broaden the music industry’s horizons.”

The keynote speaker at the event was Lou Plaia, co-founder of ReverbNation —  a music industry relations company. At the three-day-long festival, different music industry professionals gave advice and discussed pertinent business- and industry-oriented topics such as how emerging artists can garner media attention, Cronin said.

He added that many artists who attend the festival every year have small producing budgets, so receiving industry advice about how to produce high-quality records without a lot of funding can shape their careers.

Calina Stacks, a hip-hop artist who performed at the festival and attended the industry advice panels, said that the whole event was helpful for musical artists trying to create fan bases outside of their hometowns.

One of the panelists asked Stacks to improvise a few hip-hop bars, which she said gave her the chance to display her talent to the whole audience.

Before the festival, Stacks was apprehensive about how the New Haven community would receive her music. But she said the festival was great experience because industry experts taught her that “scribbling outside of the lines may just land you your next hit.”

Stacks, who is currently working on a debut mixtape, said that since she is a budding musician, the advice she received at the panels will enable her to perfect what she has recorded before it is released, which in turn will help her build a larger, stronger fan base.

Musician Taylor Tote, the lead singer of the Taylor Tote Band, said she enjoyed performing at the festival and that her performance was well-attended.

At a similar music festival this summer, Tote and her band met David Ivory, a panelist at the festival and a Grammy-nominated, multiplatinum music engineer and producer. Afterward, they began to work with him, a partnership she credits to networking opportunities like the Elm City Musical Festival.

Tote said that the event’s advice panels were well-attended, giving her band different perspectives and the best approaches for moving ahead in the music industry. She added that the atmosphere at the panels was very relaxed and welcoming, since they consisted of rooms full of individuals who shared the same interest in music. The artists genuinely wanted to help each other gain new insights, fans and allies in the industry, she added.

For Tote, however, listening to the perspective of each panelist was the most interesting aspect of each session. Thriving in the music world takes a lot of hard work and commitment, but networking and attending panels are also important, she added.

The Elm City Music Festival held panels at Terminal 10, located at 240 Sargent Drive.

Christina Carrafiell |