On Sunday I had an opportunity to attend the very first DC Music Summit, hosted by Accelerate with Google. Thanks to fellow Washingtonian and artist/entertainer Ashley Brown, who founded the summit, aspiring and current artists got to come together, network and learn more about the music business. I can’t tell you how beneficial this was for my hometown of Washington, D.C., which is sprawling with talent, but for some reason has never quite been able to establish itself as a destination for thriving musicians and entertainers. A lot of talent is born here, but it’s not too long before our fellow homegrown artists are forced to pack themselves up and ship off to lands of greater opportunity – aka New York and LA and now to a certain extent, Atlanta – to find success.
As I listened to the phenomenal panel on the “Music Industry A to Z” that featured a range of industry experts as diverse as the District’s music scene, I found myself both encouraged and mystified at the same time. There was a lot of great information shared by the panel, which was comprised of The Washington Post‘s pop music critic Chris Richards, Future of Music Coalition CEO Casey Rae, Grammy-nominated producer Rich Shelton, The Growth Group’s Alexis Kimbrough and Listen Local First co-founder Chris Naoum. Even audience members, which represented such local organizations as the DC Chapter of the Grammy’s and the District Government’s Entertainment Office shared valuable information on how to “make it” here in DC. Which begged the question, if we have so much talent and we have all these resources and tools to support success at our fingertips, combined with the changing music industry in our favor, why aren’t we as our generation now calls it, WINNING in DC? [Side Note: There is a subset of artists that have been able to make a good living out of their craft in DC and I applaud them, but I’m talking about winning in the music industry on a grander scale as a culture.]
When I say the changing music industry is in our favor, I mean we are moving more and more every day to a completely digital society driven by independent and label-owned artists alike, which should mean location matters less. As long as you can get your music to the Internet, you are good right? Well, not so much if you don’t know how to market your music online and monetize the growing online sources of music like Pandora, Spotify and Youtube. That’s the area in which I believe many local artists are suffering and where the Summit hit the mark – offering information on how local artists can maximize those online marketing and exposure opportunities.
As an artist myself and part owner of a family-owned local music production company and DC native, I have a vested interest in seeing the local music scene flourish. I applaud Accelerate with Google and Ms. Ashley Brown on bringing this important and necessary platform to the District. I hope to see other projects like this follow suit. In the meantime, whether you are an artist yourself or you just appreciate good music, be sure to support the talented group of musicians, singers, rappers, songwriters, producers etc. that live and work in our great nation’s capital. Little by little you can help DC become not just a breeding ground for homegrown talent, but a place where they can live and WIN.