Austin does its own thing, and often does it with music. That's why CD Baby is bringing its DIY Musician Conference to the city this August for the first time. The conference unites musicians who are taking charge of their own careers and offers a wide range of actionable talks and workshops on musicianship, royalties, marketing, live performance, and other key elements making a musical life and living.
This year's speakers and presenters include many that represent Austin and its independent spirit. In a keynote, Questlove will explore what tools and tech support a musician's creativity and business goals. Consummate storyteller and rap legend DMC will also be featured as a keynote speaker. Alejandro Escovedo will talk about his career in a fireside chat, and Gina Chavez will relate how she found the courage to sing and play her truth.
Other Austin speakers include freestyle master SaulPaul, named Austinite of the Year in 2017; audio production whiz and owner of Same Sky Productions, David Messier; video director and producer Traci Goudie; Stephen Belans, sought-after Americana drummer/producer; advance vinyl pressing plant owner Caren Kelleher of Gold Rush Vinyl; and talent buyer Mike Henry.
Thought-provoking stories will be complemented by one-on-one mentoring and in-depth workshops on everything from songwriting and beat making to marketing, PR, and royalties. NPR All Songs Considered host and indie music kingpin Bob Boilen will talk about what he listens for in new music. Other presenters include Shan Dan Horan, an alternative/metal label founder and video producer whose unscripted show, Musician Rescue, will air in 2020, and Judy Stakee, a former Warner/Chappell songwriter developer who offers career advice to songwriters. Seattle-based Afrofuturist SassyBlack will lead an interactive digital beatmaking workshop.
Artists will also get an opportunity to learn about important promotional and listening platforms directly from the people who build and run them, like Spotify and YouTube. "Along with our musician community, we work with a lot of digital platforms who serve this community," says Kevin Breuner, VP of Marketing at CD Baby and host of the popular DIY Musician podcast. "Every time someone from a digital service provider, say, has come to the conference, they've walked away amazed. They simply never guessed how diverse and engaged the independent musicians of the world are."
Days of learning end in evenings of jamming and listening to fellow indie artists' showcases. "We're always listening to our community's requests when it comes to programming, and they always want more chances to hear and make music together," Breuner notes. "These are some of the best, more unexpected moments." The fun will be captured live by the crew from Comedians Interviewing Musicians, who will interview attendees in front of an audience for their popular podcast and YouTube channel.
The conference regularly attracts participants from all fifty states, as well as several dozen countries. These are musicians brand new to the scene and seasoned veterans making a living from music. They are all ages, all ethnic backgrounds, all musical styles and approaches you can imagine, from hip hop MCs to old-time one-man bands.
Everywhere at the conference, not just behind the podium, however, you can find tales of artistic satisfaction--on musicians' own terms. "Every year it feels like there's no better time than now to be an artist entering the marketplace or pushing to the next level. At the conference, you can strike up a conversation, and hear new ideas about how to make music a rewarding pursuit, no matter where you are in your career. I often find myself taking notes as people tell me their stories," says Breuner. "You get so many artists from places around the world, with so many background and genre pursuits. They have one thing in common: They are creating the art they want and finding an audience."
Tickets can be purchased at diymusiciancon.com.