Artists and Industry Execs Connect at the Inaugural Hudson Valley Music Summit

“Something that won’t necessarily be discussed today, just because we don’t have enough time, is how to do all of this outreach. How do you send that e-mail? How much is not enough, or too much and too annoying? But we should have this discussion, either in a separate function or one-on-one, and you can come talk to me. Because I want this region to do well; there is too much talent here.”

Joel Feinberg, CEO of DeWolfe Music, said this at at the end of an engaging panel discussion titled Licensing Update: Moving Beyond Commercials at the inaugural Hudson Valley Music Summit, held last Friday in Kingston, NY. Feinberg, who calls New Paltz, NY home, is certainly right: The Hudson Valley comprises the section of New York reaching from upstate to the the edges of the big city itself. And while that’s a vast stretch, it’s a strongly connected one, with many fast-growing musical and artistic performance scenes burgeoning within them. Representing this area and its continually multiplying numbers of talented, independent artists in the context of the music industry is an important and noteworthy, albeit long term, cause. 

That’s where the Hudson Valley Music Summit comes in, the single day event planned and organized for as long as over a year by author and independent musician David Hoffman.  

Beginning bright and early at 9 am and lasting through a more informal, live music event at Kingston’s BSP lounge, the Summit was a chance for local artists and music career professionals to both connect with highly successful and renowned members of the industry and learn trade secrets from them. Across a series of panel discussions, hosted by a moderator and joined by a small handful of talking heads, the summit’s aim was to demystify the often intersecting, co-dependent niches of the music industry, and offer insight into the many diverse ways to achieve financial, creative, entrepreneurial success within it. 

In that Licensing panel, for starters, Feinberg along with a handful of others, like panel moderator Sharon Tapper who is CEO of Pivot Music Group, answered questions about the myths, misunderstandings, and gems of truth about getting one’s content into the hands of publicists, label executives and more. When discussing writing music for commercial, “Upbeat always beats depressed in the numbers” was just one insight of many upon which the panel unanimously agreed.

In a panel titled Conceiving a Coherent Image for a Strong Merchandising Strategy, Mara Frankel, Senior Directive Creator of Atlantic Records led a very intriguing conversation on artists’ best approach to visual mediums and making them work for their brand. At one point during this session, John Warner, owner of Hi-Line Merchandising, held up Keller Williams’ newest album, Add, to the crowd and succinctly explained its direct yet effective use of a single title single image to communicate the one-man-jamband’s thematic intention.  

Some of the day was less study session and more nifty. One of the day’s highlights, for instance, was a lunch hour overseen by an intimate discussion between Relix Editor-in-Chief Dean Budnick and Capitol Theatre owner Peter Shapiro. Budnick pressed Shapiro for details on the recent success of The Cap, Port Chester’s renowned rock music venue, along with tidbits about its sister venues The Brooklyn Bowl and the now-defunct, yet ever famous, Wetlands Preserve.

One of the more intriguing questions asked of Shapiro concerned how bands might able to transition from playing one size venue to a larger one, to which he offered: “Keep in touch with bookers, and let them know where you’ve played. Also be open to opening, tell bands and bookers you can bring this many people to their show. Go crush Garcia’s and you’ll probably get a phone call from us.” 

And, in response to a question from the crowd asking, “Why staff at The Capitol Theatre love Shapiro so much?” which is something you don’t see too much,” Budnick actually answered for Shapiro, giving an answer that seemed to fit. “It’s because he’s there, at the shows. He’s down in it, just like any fan watching a show, and I think that’s what anyone should aspire to.”

In a special panel that closed out the day, Manger’s Roundtable, the Summit gathered together the managers of The Wood Brothers, Wilco’s Nels Cline and others to paint a picture of a day in their life. The four members and moderator Linda Lorence-Critelli (president of the New York chapter of the GRAMMYs) all agreed firmly upon a simple yet paramount idea, one that seemed to sum up the entire day. In response to an audience member’s question about how to make get inside a manager’s door and establish a connection, they said, “It comes from relationships.” Hard Head Management founder and wife of Warren Haynes, Stephanie Scamardo went on to describe how she recently also became manager of rock sensation The Revivalists, noting that it stemmed from a friendly conversation that led to a lunch date, and then ultimately a strong partnership. 

Hopefully, that’s what the collection of local musicians, marketers, content producers and more found in attending the Hudson Valley Music Summit: the chance to connect with an industry leader or two, learn a thing or two, and possibly even offer services to one another or vice versa.