Musicians, bloggers, tech geeks and music industry insiders gathered Saturday for another annual meet up at the Noise Pop curated Industry Noise conference at the Swedish American Hall in the Castro District. The conference featured various independent music insiders from artists, to managers and everyone in between.
This year’s conference brought keynote speaker Josh Freese, who has made himself known as one of the top recording drummers in the country, who’s collaborated on over three hundred albums over the last thirty years. Freese focused on his career in the industry, sharing stories of recording with Guns and Roses, playing in DEVO and being a dad to three young kids all while balancing his way around labels and managers.
The rest of the conference was more free form, featuring different panels where fans and insiders alike fueled the questions. The first panel I attended was titled “Never Trust Anyone Over 30” and focused on people under thirty who are already shaping the industry in their own special way. Panelists included singer Eric Frederic from the band Facing New York and his new project WALLPAPER. Justin Little, a Santa Clara graduate that used to book concerts on his campus, who works for Zeitgeist Artist Management working with bands such as Death Cab For Cutie and Grizzly Bear. Andy Miles represented the tech side of the industry speaking on how at such a young age he co-founded the website Bandize which is used by bands and managers to everything from booking tours to tracking merchandise sales all on one easy to use website. The final panelist was Ty White who after a few failed music startups landed a job at Topspin Media, a web company that helps artist hype and create a channel for artists and fans to connect.
This panel was the most informative because it was young people talking to young people who all were there trying to figure out how to exactly make it into the music business and the fate of the business. Little mentioned, “I know a lot of friends who have lost their jobs in the last year in the industry.” Between discussions the recession was brought up to which someone stated “If a company like General Motors can fail, then what’s to say Warner Bros records can’t fail, and that’s what’s exciting right now.” Although these insiders knew that the recording industry was in a wreck right now, they all seemed very excited about the future with a promise that music wouldn’t die, technology would always be changing but the way artists are managed and the way artists revenues come in would all have to change but no one knows exactly how yet.
Other panels touched on a wide array of subjects, one solely for music producers and studio work, one on how to make an indie label titled “Mogal” and an artist panel featuring Francisco Fernandez of the Furious Few, Eric Victorino of the band The Limousines and Aja Volkman of Nico Vega who were all playing the Noise Pop festival and shared stories from the road and being an artist in our economy.
The lower level of the Swedish American Hall was filled with chairs where people from labels, band managers, publicists and producers all offered short ten minute sessions with anyone looking make a connection, get some guidance and possibly a business card.
The conference seemed to become a place where fans and musicians were equals and the veil of secrecy that surrounds such a popular industry was lifted. Shortly after the conference all attendees and panelists headed to Cafe Du Nord for drinks and conversations on how although the industry is ever changing, the music will stay the same.