Pop Music Industry Conference: music is a movement

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Western’s Pop Music Industry Conference, hosted by AS Productions, returns for its fourth annual installment this February, offering valuable resources for those interested in the music industry.

The conference was created four years ago with the intention to fill a gap in the Western curriculum for students interested in pursuing a career in the music industry. Particularly within the industry there is clearly no set path and this conference sets out to lay a foundation of general knowledge, as well as introduce attendees to networking and gaining valuable insight from those who are currently on their paths to success.

Although this year’s edition will share some of the same format as previous years, one major difference is that this conference has a theme: “Music As A Movement.”

“’Music As A Movement’ is an opportunity for anyone with a passion for music and social issues to come together and discuss what truly matters to them,” reads the conference’s mission statement. “We aim to bring music industry professionals outside of the fast-paced business world into an intimate conversation. This will be an opportunity to build connections and start a discussion around music as not just an art form, but as a movement that unites people.”

The decision for this change was intended to keep the conference fresh for students and community members who may have attended in past years, but still provide the necessary information for those that are interested in starting a career in the music industry.

Each panel will also have a general theme, similar to previous years’ panels that focused on individual things like music production, photography and journalism, although this year’s panels will also include more discussion-based subjects such as social issues, political correctness and gender stereotypes.

Shadi Garman, who is co-chairing the event this year, also worked on last year’s conference as part of the panel constructing committee. Garman said last year’s experience working on the event has led her to become more prepared and persistent, something she hopes to be able to utilize this time around.

“The ideal audience is anyone who loves music and making an impact on the world,” she said. “This is not limited to age, profession or anything else. We want the audience to be involved and ready to voice their opinions.”

Keynote speakers John Roderick and Hollis Wong-Wear will open and close the event. Roderick, who is most widely known as the frontman for the Seattle-based band The Long Winters, is one of the most active musicians in not only Seattle but the Pacific Northwest. When he isn’t playing with The Long Winters he can be found making appearances on a number of local radio shows and podcasts or playing with friend and frequent collaborator Jonathan Coulton, among other things.

Wong-Wear, who first got her start in the local scene via slam poetry, can now be found performing and producing music both as a solo artist and with numerous other projects, including rap duo Canary Sing. Some of her most recent work can also be found on fellow Seattle native Macklemore’s hit album The Heist.

Both keynote speakers have taken an active role in utilizing music as a foundation for social issue awareness and change, which will inspire their opening and closing speeches for the conference.

This year’s roster of panelists include professionals from the biggest names in entertainment, Alex Kochan, Vice President of AEG Live Northwest and Spencer Manio of PlayNetwork who was recently featured by NPR as the person who chooses music for commercials and what we hear in stores like Nordstrom.

The eclectic array of other panelists include speakers from non-profits like Rain City Rock Camp for Girls, Protosong, and Noise for the Needy and artists like Ra Scion of seattle hip-hop group Common Market and Bellingham raised artist Kris Orlowksi.

In addition to the panels and keynote addresses, there will be a gallery exhibition, featuring concert posters and other music-related graphics by local graphic designers. While there will be no concert this year, Garman says the only reason is to make sure the rest of the event runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

“I’m excited for people to go to the conference and really recognize the power that we all have to make a difference,” said Garman. “Everyone has some sort of relationship with music, whether through what’s on the top 40 charts or what they’ve just discovered on a blog. Consequently, I believe that music has the power to get your attention. By recognizing the varied influence music has, we can utilize that towards a movement of positivity and empowerment.”

The AS Productions Pop Music Industry Conference is on Feb. 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. in the Viking Union. Registration is $10 for Western students and $20 for community members, and includes brunch, keynote speakers, panel sessions, and refreshments throughout the day.