Urban Music Contemplations – Urban Network Digital Summit

Posted: June 10, 2014 in 1, entertainmen, entertainment, music, radio
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Last month, I attended the Urban Network Digital Summit in San Diego. I was sooooo glad to experience the return of this all important black music conference. We had not had a conference in some 5-7 years…  Back in the day, there were so many conferences that allowed us to shine… Black Music’s best executives, artists and pop culture together in one location sharing knowledge, networking, the record company parties and even the sometimes secret, invitation only music soirees… it was something to behold… But then the times have changed – and the conferences went away one by one.

The Urban Network Digital Summit was organized by a committee that graduated from the previous versions of Urban Network. Led by Arthur Mitchell – a guy who came along at the end of the era that I am descurbannetworksummitlogoribing Nonetheless, he gets props for pulling together some of the Urban Network alumni and putting on a pretty nice conference.  David Mitchell, Tosha Thomas, Harold Whaley.. most of the crew from the old Urban Network was in the house and had a hand in putting together the conference… Job well done guys!!!

I was impressed with the turnout as the conference attracted a bevy of young, independent artists who were starving for knowledge and perspective on this crazy industry we all know and love. Next year, I believe the Summit will have double the attendance. And probably more support from the industry at large could resort in better artist showcases, and performance infrastructure. or even targeting music equipment and technology manufacturers and providers for sponsorship dollars and added information and educational benefit.

It was obvious that there is a generational gap in the industry. The game has changed. But there is a lot of room for convergence. The old heads need to be willing to share the history and experiences in the music game while being open and flexible to the changes the digital world has brought to music artistry.

As I observe the music industry, I see opportunity for the creatives. The road to fame no longer runs strictly through massive radio station airplay and major record labels. Websites and social media are the exposure tools of today. The young guns coming up are so much more savvy to the tools for making music and even more savvy with the power digital platforms possess in building audience… that BUZZ….

There was a time when you went to these conventions and came away with a bag full of CD’s and cassettes…. This time I received a good number of cassettes but I was even the more impressed with the number of cards with the QR codes embedded. I could download the music right to my phone…. Or those that had multiple songs to share, I received a flash drive… some imprinted with the band’s name on it just in case I would forget(lol!!) Technology has taken over the entire music promotion game…..

The panel discussions were inviting. If I were to offer a critique it would be to limit the number of panelists on the dais. And also to ensure the ALL panels have a question and answer period. It becomes a session of self-congratulatory pontificating if the audience is not allowed to engage.

I always look forward to the music showcases. For better or worse, it is good to hear first hand the latest music coming along. For this Summit, I must say that I saw some great acts. And of course I saw some that need to keep practicing. They were not ready for primetime. I enjoyed mostly the complete bands… The bands that came and brought it. And there were some acts that had it going on….

Tony Toni Tone made a reunion appearance and while they were marred with sound system difficulties, I was soon reassured that this band remained tight and ready to rock their fans everywhere.

In the end, there is still a bright future for the black music industry. Yet, innovation and imagination is needed to fully live up to our potential. Are we ready? Are we willing to continue to get together in a business academic environment? Time will tell.

Good Job Urban Network.

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