If you left Bandcamp early on Sunday, you missed everything. Those present for the beginning were able to catch some of the most successful in the traditional music industry that Houston has to offer. Dan Workman (@producerboy) of Sugar Hill Studios, one of the oldest and well respected recording studios in the nation. Ross Wells (@zenfilm) of Zen Film, single handedly revitalizing music videos of Houston artists. Heather Wagner of Juice Consulting, recently featured on the cover of 002 Mag whose background is in college radio promotions. Dennis Lee (@dlee) of KTRU’s Vinyl Frontier, a recipient of a Houston Press Best of Award, and a well respected member of the Houston Hip Hop community. Finallly, Paris Eley, a former exec for CBS and Motown.
These speakers gave firm advice on the career for a burgeoning musician or band. They spoke to the determination and the perseverance required to sustain themselves in an admittedly difficult field to achieve even modest success. Dan and Ross spoke about how to develop new tricks for an old game and how to own the concept that your home turf of Houston has something important to offer: “Houston is the shit!” Heather explained that the trick to PR is simply relationships and that if you aren’t talking to people in your community, you’re doing yourself a disservice. Dennis told us “Not to be a dick” by exhibiting professionalism and how that can parlay into future connections among 1st and 2nd degree connections. Paris brought a crew from his management team who spoke of street level promotion as well as inspired the passion required to adapt and continue to introduce yourself to new groups and push through a headwind. These speakers got everyone sufficiently wound up and ready to provide their own voice and that’s where everyone bared their soul.
People came to Bandcamp expecting firm take aways. After all, we billed the event as a place that, among other things, would be a meeting where you could learn how to book a tour, promote online and offline and discuss management etc. People wanted to be told what to do. The speaking points that met these expectations were apparent, you could chart them with the audible clicks of pens and the visual blur of multiple wrists on paper. Ultimately though, the speakers inspired people to contribute their own thoughts and in the townhall discussion, there was an outpouring.
By the time we got to the townhall portion there was still a respectable crowd, I’d estimate 75 or so, even with the uncomfortably warm environment of the coworking space (thanks for your temperance). For the next two hours (with only one break) we discussed what the Houston Music Community needs and what it could use. There were so many great ideas and many of them were discussed for an ample amount of time with all parties given the chance to weigh in. Sometimes it was unanimous, sometimes there were differing opinions. It was refreshing to see so many people talking about the Houston Music Community. People were there to listen. People were there to contribute. People were NOT there to bitch. The positive energy generated on Sunday is still energizing musicians through the week, as measured by emails and personal communication about the event and looking forward.
What’s next was decided by everyone remaining in attendance. Democratically decided by those who stayed to contribute and participate. Something sustainable and community focused with an eye on peer to peer education. We ALL decided to capitalize upon the energy of the first Bandcamp with regular education sessions addressing ONE skill per session, ONCE a month. With local experts teaching each session. And a mentoring session that following each teaching session where any experts in attendance mentor and reinforce the lesson with advice and planning.
The first session of its kind will be Bandcamp: OFFLINE PROMOTION and will be held on November 2nd from 1-3pm at Caroline Collective. The leaders of the session will be Kerry Melonson of Satin Hooks and B-Boy Craig. Future sessions will be decided by those in attendance at the 11/2 event. Links to the event will be posted in the coming days.
Philip, Ian and I would like to thank sponsors Eventbee, Free Press Houston; the speakers: Dan Workman, Ross Wells, Heather Wagner, Dennis Lee, Paris Eley, Tiffany Cofield, and Erin Stevenson; the music writers of Houston that supported this event especially those in attendance: Chris Gray of the Houston Press, David Cobb of Houston Calling, Jeremy Hart of Space City Rock, Ramon Medina of Free Press Houston, Justin Crane of NonAlignment Pact and Andrew Dansby of the Houston Chronicle. Final thanks goes to those participants of the event who took an active role in the direction for the future of the Houston Music Community.