Top 5 things I learned at San Diego Music Thing

I spent a fair bit of time at San Diego Music Thing this past weekend. Sadly due to work and the blackout, I was unable to attend panels on Friday, but managed to hit up quite a few venues after my 3 hour volunteer shift at the Lafayette’s Mississippi Ballroom. Saturday, I made sure to catch some of the panels before another shift in the depths of the hotel. Exhausted, I didn’t make it to additional shows that evening but I had my fill.

5. Sometimes everyone is to blame. When planning events something goes wrong, small or big, noticeable or not, something always goes wrong. Well, on Friday night in the Mississippi Ballroom, a lot went wrong. Viejas overbooked and backed out of doing sound two days prior to the event. Another reputable company (Audio Design, I think) took on the job. The PA/mixer system brought was not adequate for bands, OK for the panels, but not good at all for headliner type bands. I’m not sure if it was what was ordered or it was brought based on perceived sound needs. Anyhow, it sucked.

The first band, 321 Stereo sounded awful. There was static coming through the speakers and the lead singer was blowing out the high-end, not to mention she was singing off-key. We solved some of the issues with the second band, Bart Davenport. But with the third act, The Frail, one of the monitors and one of the mics blew out. Oh, and they could get their Mac to hook up so they were operating as a live band (which they say they never practice that way and rely on the steady beat) The Frail’s managers were watching from afar via webcast and were apparently not happy. Fun, fun.

Did I mention the sound guy looked stoned? All the while, we were trying to figure out how to make Nico Vega‘s lead singer’s in-ear monitor work, which we never did. I skipped out on most of their set, having had my fill of excitement. But I heard the show was awesome with a crowd of about 75-100 people.

4. Copyright, register w/ BMI & ASCAP, register w/ SoundExchange, & distribute w/ aggregator = money This was the basic formula to make even the slightest bit of money using the digital medium shared in the panel: “The future of music distribution…is it the cloud?” Although very dry, I found this to be a very informative panel which is what the panelists set out to achieve. They laid out the details of the cloud simply so attendees could follow. Well done.

3. Facilitators are necessary to keep a panel on track. Well, this is mostly true. Some panelists are good about staying on target, but others will stray for a story about some famous band that did something great or to promote their own business.

In the panel with Michael Addicott from Pandora, they never even addressed the question posed in the title of the panel: “As online radio grows, what happens to the independent musician?” unless “keep trying” was the answer. It was sad to see guest panelists knowledge wasted due to missing parameters. There are a number of individuals who would be great facilitators in this town who would ask relevant questions to keep thing on track. People who come to mind include Rosey Bystrak of San Diego Dialed In, Seth Combs,  Chris Maroulakos of Owl and Bear, George Varga of the Union Tribune, Bart Mendoza, Lyn Pagsolingan, and the list goes on.

2. “Aim low, reach for the stars,” “Play in a phone booth, say your show was packed wall to wall!” “Your t-shirt doesn’t need to have your band name on it, search your lyrics for some gems.” Martin Atkins, author of Tour: Smart and Saturday’s featured presenter, shared his honest and straight-forward advice to musicians regarding the music business, while making you bust your gut laughing. Truthfully, I gained a lot of solid information from his session even though I was in and out of the room. I even walked away with both of his books as a gift to my husband.

1. You don’t have to be a musician or in the music business to enjoy this event. Several times during this weekend, I found myself asking “Why am I here?” This event had nothing to do with my career path, I’m not a musician nor involved in the music industry. Luckily, Mat Bates of Slacker was there, as I verbally expressed this thought, to remind me that I didn’t need a reason and if I did, it’s because I love and have an interest in music.

Thank you for setting my thoughts straight, Mat. So I will pass this mantra on… “Do what you want, do what you love and have fun.” ~ Me (and probably someone else famous said this at one point too).

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2 thoughts on “Top 5 things I learned at San Diego Music Thing

  1. “Copyright, register w/ BMI & ASCAP, register w/ SoundExchange, & distribute w/ aggregator = money”

    I would modify this to ” = the potential for money” because this is really only relevant to musicians releasing recorded music, and even then there’s only money if you manage to sell significant numbers (and note that press/attention/promotion/notoriety don’t necessarily translate to sales in any way). Still, it’s important to nail these details down for any release whether one expects to make money (which you shouldn’t) or not, and I’d also mention registration with the Harry Fox Agency for mechanical/digital licensing.

    • Thanks, Aaron. Potential is totally right. I think was they were getting at was that you really need to do these things to sell at all in the digital world. Great recommendation in the Harry Fox Agency. The panel rambled off a number off companies that distribute digitally and license, I just didn’t write any of them down. Surprised I didn’t see you at SDMT this weekend.

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