- KICK OFF PARTY - SEPT 28
Industry parties – you’ve got to love them. Because there’s booth babes like E3? No. Because there are lots of freebies given away Hollywood style? No. Okay, because that’s where you can meet people from the industry in a relaxed atmosphere? Bingo. That is until you realize the music’s playing a bit too loud.
Held at 1015 Folsom, the largest nightclub in San Francisco, the festival side of the SMC hosted some of the most talented DJs from around the world. The kick off industry party was just that – a party. Nothing too business-like, but nothing too over the top (it ran from 7pm to 10pm). For many of the guests, the party was a chance to kick back, to say hello to everyone they hadn't seen for a while. It was also a chance to introduce yourself to people with whom you might want to work with or work for. Either way, for most, the club was a much more comfortable environment to talk than standing on stage with the spotlight in your eye answering questions.
The party featured a performance from San Franciscan hip-hop legend Q-bert, alongside many familiar faces from the city’s electronic club scene. More a happy-hour than a party, for me it worked well as the night was young with other parties just beginning, not to mention the festival beginning tomorrow…
PANELS - SEPT 28-29
Held at Ruby Skye, one of San Francisco’s most beloved and popular venues, the first annual San Francisco Music Conference (SMC) started at 11pm Sunday with an introduction from event CEO Jennifer Manger. The keynote speaker was Tess Taylor of the NARIP (National Association of Record Industry Professionals), who spoke about the current situation in the industry, music distribution alternatives, and the future of the business.
The conference itself was about business first before play. With four seminars each on the two days, the weekend ended with a big bang, culminating with an outdoor festival and a boat party.
As for the seminars, they included a session for artists and producers about the business side of the industry (for example royalties, publishing, and legal issues), a session on distribution and marketing for independent labels, and a session on technology and how it will push the envelope of music creation. The conference itself was varied and it covered all basic aspects of music and media.
What certainly helped the SMC event was its panelists. Experience carries weight and there were many old industry hands in attendance from the Bay Area and New York City, including Chris Smith from Om Records and Raymond Roker, founder and editor of URB Magazine. Each panelist had much to say, some positive, some more defensive of certain issues, and it wasn’t what you would’ve expected.
One topic debated was the idea of offering music legally and for free. That’s right – free music, but with a catch. Companies are planning to offer music for free, but the audience would be bombarded with advertisements before being allowed to listen to the song. This is not a new concept – free public telephones have been in use in the United States for the past four months – but it was certainly interesting to hear opinions on the other side of the coin from the likes of Chris Smith. To Smith, it wasn’t the best model to pursue.
The conference side was certainly interesting and informative for both music industry insiders and would-be insiders. To sum up, the first SMC gave the impression that it wants to be the Miami of the West, and this year certainly planted the seeds to grow the event in the future into someone very positive for the Western side of America.
OUTDOOR FESTIVAL - SEPT 30
A week before the conference San Francisco had its first LoveFest and the weather was gorgeous. Seven days later, SF looked more like London on a gloomy day, and on the morning of the free festival prehaps it looked even worse. Rain loomed and it looked like the event wasn’t going to happen.
Luckily, it didn’t rain and it got warmer as the day progressed. The festival took up a full block with two main stages. The Om Records and URB Magazine stage hosted DJ Heather, Andy Caldwell, Landshark and other Om crew, while Ministry of Sound, Temple, and the SF Weekly went for a more trance feel on their stage, hosting local heroes Gabriel & Dresden as their top talent.
Word quickly spread that a healthy crowd had gathered for the six-hour event. One side had house, the other had trance – you could instantly tell which sections of the crowd were more into one sound than the other, but who says house heads and trance kids can’t get along? Like all events at the SMC, the crowd was a friendly one – there were no hassles and everyone enjoyed themselves.