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05/13/2016

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CD Baby CEO Tracy Maddux Knows What it Means to Do It Yourself

When Tracy Maddux—a passionate fan of live music—joined CD Baby, he decided he needed to see a show by each of the new employees he worked with. Nearly everyone at CD Baby plays music. It meant ...

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Samantha Brickler

CD Baby’s DIY Musician Conference Returns with Relevant, Targeted Info for Career-Building Indie Artists

September 30-October 2, 2016 at Chicago’s Congress Plaza Hotel, Sponsored by GigSalad and Berklee Online

Actionable, artist-driven advice. That’s the main inspiration for the DIY Musician Conference presented by CD Baby (diymusiciancon.com), the only conference created specifically to give independent artists tools, skills, and ideas they can take home and implement instantly.

Now in its second edition (September 30-October 2, 2016 at Chicago’s Congress Plaza Hotel), the conference is expanding and including high-energy talks, carefully curated panels, and useful workshops by artists and music industry pros. “We’ve asked a lot of artists what they need and want more of, and have designed the program with this in mind. We’ve included more workshops and one-on-one mentoring,” explains Kevin Breuner, VP of Marketing as CD Baby. “The conference isn’t about a big-name speaker talking in general terms, or about information that is more geared toward managers or label execs. This is about content that people can use right away to move their careers forward. It’s about strong takeaways.”

This year’s keynotes include Jack Conte, one of the driving forces behind Pomplamoose and founder of artist funding platform Patreon. Conte is a perfect example of how indie musicians are finding uncharted roads to success and building significant careers using digital tools, innovative marketing, and good old-fashioned hard work.

“I'm super pumped to be a part of the conference,” exclaims Conte. “Being in an indie band for 10 years is one of the hardest things I've ever done. I can't wait to dive into the nitty gritties and answer some questions.”

Some of the nitty gritties include the art and craft of songwriting, with Grammy-nominated writer Steve Seskin whose songs have been recorded by and scored chart hits for Waylon Jennings, Alabama, Peter Frampton, and Tim McGraw, among others. In-demand fashion and commercial photographer Becky Yee will not only share tips on how to get great band photos, but will work with artists at a special photo booth, with shots artists can take home with them.

Topics will range from managing the creative process to booking a house concert tour, from putting on a stronger live show (the live band makeover with veteran manager Tom Jackson) to diving into sync, publishing, and streaming revenues. In addition, Berklee Online, the premier platform for online music and music business education, will curate several panels.

When not absorbing new ideas, artists can hang out, network, and even play together in a new feature this year, the Jam Room. “We had a lot of spontaneous music making last year,” recalls Breuner. “It started with just a few artists playing, then got really big. Artists asked for a dedicated space to jam, and we’re doing it.”

“This conference is one of the most engaging, productive artist events of the year for PledgeMusic and me,” says Benji Rogers, who in addition to his role as founder and chief strategy officer at PledgeMusic, is an advocate for new, more artist-friendly tech approaches to music rights and distribution. “I’m really excited to return."

About CD Baby:

CD Baby is one of the largest distributors of independent music on the planet, home to more than 400,000 artists. The CD Baby catalog makes up an estimated 17 per cent of iTunes track offerings. With a one-stop professional dashboard allowing indie musicians to manage their royalties and licensing, CD Baby has become the go-to partner for many icons in the new music industry. Bon Iver’s Justin Vernon and Macklemore had their start on CD Baby, while others like Ingrid Michaelson and Gregory Alan Isakov have maintained independent and highly successful careers. Greg Brown, Willis Earl Beale, and Grant Lee Phillips are among musicians who’ve dropped the old label system and turned to CD Baby to strike out on their own.