Music as a movement

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

In our more jaded, less charitable moments, my editorial cohort (who shall go unnamed, lest I incriminate the guilty) can be found rolling our eyes, sighing dramatically and bemoaning all the folks who would like for us publicize their events, without also providing us with the proper information to do so.

“I got another press release without any dates or contact information in it,” she might say.

“That’s funny, because I talked to a musician this weekend that would like for me to call them regularly to see if they’ve got any shows booked or anything else going on that they might like for me to write about,” I might respond.

Needless to say, this isn’t us at our finest, but we nearly always redeem ourselves somewhat by finishing such conversations with an identical sentiment: “I’d really like to publicize these events. Why does no one teach these people how to help themselves?”

Enter WWU’s Pop Music Industry Conference. For the past three years, PopMIC, as it has become known, has done its level best to instruct musicians and anyone involved in the music industry the finer points of the business of the music business. From booking tours to getting a record deal to utilizing social media to, yes, handling the press, PopMIC has proven itself to be an eminently useful resource by bringing in industry experts and employees to dispense real-world, real-life advice to all in attendance.

Now in its fourth year, PopMIC has chosen to stray from that practical nuts-and-bolts approach to focus on something a bit loftier. The theme of this year’s conference—which takes place Sat., Feb. 2 at WWU’s Viking Union Multipurpose Room—is “Music as a Movement,” and its stated aim is to be an “exploration of the relationship between the music industry and social issues.”

Music has, over its long history, always been inextricably intertwined with the overall state of the human condition, whether that be via protest songs or simply the tradition of folk music by which stories are passed from generation to generation, preserving deeply held beliefs and cultural traditions.

Now PopMIC aims to start a dialogue about what that means in our current day and age, and they’ve brought in a whole slew of opinionated experts to help make that conversation happen. Among them are Hollis Wong-Wear (multi-skilled dynamo who manages the Blue Scholars, has been an accomplished slam poet, is a stage actor, along with having a musical career in her own right), the Long Winters’ John Roderick (accomplished musician and speaker of truth to power, in his own inimitable way), as well as folks from such organization as AEG Live, Vera Project, Rain City Girls Rock Camp, Sound on the Sound, and many more.

While this year’s Pop Music Industry Conference isn’t likely to result a bunch of attendees who are armed with the information required to go forth and craft a perfect press release, what they stand to come away with—in terms of just how powerful a force music can be with regard to changing the entire world—could actually be far more valuable. And I speak for my aforementioned editorial counterpart when I say, I think we’re all O.K. with that.

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