For the second annual Yellow Phone Music Conference this week, the buzzword is "access" – for up-and-coming musicians and industry professionals alike.
"We have a very quality experience for the musicians and the up-and-coming industry professionals. People who want to pursue a career in music have extremely good access – almost unprecedented access – to some of the professionals in the business as they come to Milwaukee," said David Silbaugh, who co-founded YPMC last year with fellow entertainment consultants Scott Ziel and Doug Johnson of Pursuit Live Entertainment.
"The word about Milwaukee is kind of getting out."
YPMC will run from Thursday, Sept. 6 to Sunday, Sept. 9 at the Hyatt Regency Hotel. The two days will feature almost 40 bands performing for music industry professionals and members of the public. The conference aims to provide networking and exposure opportunities for Midwestern artists, specifically Milwaukee artists – both professionally and publicly.
What Johnson describes as a "new adventure" for the second year of the conference? Some international flair.
The conference has partnered with goNorth music festival to feature bands from Scotland, including alt.rock group Fatherson and former Astrid frontman Willie Campbell.
"We wanted that international component for Yellow Phone," said Johnson.
Ziel said that the goal of the YPMC is to provide a milieu for undiscovered talent and industry insiders to network, make contacts and get advice. Specifically, the organizers want to draw attention to the pool of talent to be found in Midwestern cities like Milwaukee.
"The music industry people that we brought out from L.A. and New York loved Milwaukee, they loved how we put the event together, they loved the unsigned bands that we showcased, and the musicians who showed up for the conference had a really impactful and kind of dynamic experience where they're sitting in a room with some pretty powerful music business people and it's just them and 20 other people," said Ziel.
"So we tried to keep it really small so they could ask a lot of questions, get a lot of answers, get a lot of advice."
"You can walk up to the promoter of Warped Tour and ask him questions. You can have access to a music attorney who represents the likes of Hall and Oates and Michelle Branch and talk to them," said Johnson, who added that the exclusivity of the talent showcased makes for a more intimate experience. "We're showcasing maybe 36 to 40 artists as opposed to 175 or 2,000 (like other conferences)."
And the conference isn't just for musicians. Another new aspect this year is free music for the public. Eight bands will give free concerts in Catalano Square this weekend; four will perform at 7 p.m. on Friday and four will perform at 7 on Saturday.
"We're extremely excited about the free stage in Catalano Square," said Johnson. "We've partnered with the Third Ward Association on that. We want to highlight what's great about Milwaukee."
For more information on attending the conference, visit the website.
Colleen Jurkiewicz is a Milwaukee native with a degree in English from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and she loves having a job where she learns something new about the Cream City every day. Her previous incarnations have included stints as a waitress, a barista, a writing tutor, a medical transcriptionist, a freelance journalist, and now this lovely gig at the best online magazine in Milwaukee.