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Music Biz 2023 Goes All-In on Inclusivity at Annual Summit in Nashville

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Diversity and inclusion were a top priority and a prevailing theme at the Music Biz Conference that was held at the JW Marriott in Nashville, Tennessee May 15-18, 2023. This direction was seen in both the people represented and awarded over the multi-day affair and the vast swath of subjects discussed and debated that are currently impacting the industry across the board.


For decades this meeting has been a source of collaboration and inspiration for the music business where attendees share ideas in hopes of having a ripple effect of positive changes across the industry. Because the Music Business Association's member community represents the entire range of music delivery models: digital, physical, mobile and more, their conference brings together industry leaders from all these realms along with entrepreneurial artists all sharing lots of useful information.

The Music Biz Conference was four days of intensive education, engagement and fun. Over the course of the event hundreds of speakers addressed a wide range of topics including AI, building fanbases, DEI, DSP, indies, live music, marketing, metadata, programming, publishing, streaming and more. Many of the panels featured women and or people of color who are leaders in their fields. At the JW Marriott there were some vendors and rooms for meetings along with the ballrooms where most of the presentations took place. There were plenty of opportunities to network during and after the conference. Plus, there was an awards show.


One of the many panels at this year's Music Biz.

The Bizzy Awards hosted by Noelle Scaggs (Fitz and the Tantrums, Elektra solo recording artist, Diversify the Stage) took place on Wednesday, May 17th and was sponsored by The LSS Group at RBC Wealth Management. Special performances by Miko Marks and Tracey Ottomey added to the energy in the room. This marks the second time that nominations for the Association's awards program were crowd-sourced, allowing the global music business at large to recognize their companies and their peers who are making a difference in improving their industry.

The festivities began at the Music Biz Pre-Awards Cocktail Party sponsored by WMX and ADA, who highlighted social justice organizations creating meaningful change for historically underserved and marginalized communities in Tennessee and beyond. As folks were sipping their drinks, Portia Sabin (Music Biz President) presented the first ever Music Business Educator Award to Serona Elton (Frost School of Music - Univ. of Miami) and they also showed clips of the recipients of the 2023 Music Biz Scholarship Foundation.


MCN's Rockin' Rich Lynch and Danielle Bloom;
Music Biz President Portia Sabin and more scenes from the JW Marriott.

The dinner catered by the Marriott added to the celebratory atmosphere of The Bizzys. The awards covered a range of categories with some winners reflecting Music Biz's commitment to inclusion and diversity. Agent of Change was presented to RAMPD. This organization connects the entertainment and event industries with a global network of established music professionals with disabilities giving those artists more access and opportunities. #NEXTGEN_NOW One To Watch went to Emilio Morales of Rimas Publishing an award-winning music publisher home to internationally acclaimed authors and producers with many coming from the Latino community.

The music industry has been through dramatic changes in the past 23 years going from a time when people were still buying physical product to listening to music on streaming services. Emerging artists not only have to be good at their craft but they also have to master finances, promotion, social media and more.


Miko Marks played a spotlight set at the Bizzy Awards.

Yes, bigger acts have teams but we learned that "superfans" currently want to know the performer so personal posts on social media are an effective way to connect and maintain a community of followers. It does not always have to be about one's latest single. Subjective things like enjoying ice cream or sports allows fans to see a more intimate side of the musician.

AI (artificial intelligence) is another thing that folks back in the early 2000's did not really have to think about. The panels that we saw expressed their opinion that AI will help rather than replace people. Technology is utilized to gather fan information for promotion and targeting a tribe. AI can be used to make sure artists are paid properly and detect fraud along with possible copyright infringements. Algorithms along with automated posts work as marketing tools so that artists can focus more on their music rather than some of the less creative but still important steps in having a career in music.


Marketing took center stage in 2023.

Innovations abound in the tech world. Victoria Yip (Senior Manager SET) who was on one of the panels shared what her company SET.Live does. They basically turn phone screens into an extension of the concert experience. For example, an artist can have a give-away and encourage people to go to SET.Live which has a simple system to sign up and then they are eligible for something like a back stage pass or merchandise. This is fun for fans and allows the artist to grow their lists, a win-win especially for an opening act. Many of the marketing tips we heard emphasized being aware of trends, being consistent, creativity, keeping it simple and keeping it real.

The Music Biz Conference was packed with informative discussions and opportunities to interact with innovators in a setting that emphasized diversity and inclusion. The Music Business Association is a large network of leaders dedicated to keeping the music industry moving strongly forward in an environment that continue to evolve. The combination of commitment, education and growth has and will continue to attract artists from around the country to be a part of Music Biz.


Noelle Scaggs, Precious Perez and Tracey Ottomey in Nahville.

Related Links: For more information on MUSIC BIZ and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - Music Biz Conference | Musicians Are the Business at Music Biz 2019 | Industry Legends and Luminaries Shine at Music Biz Awards in Nashville | Leading Ladies Speak Out at Music Biz 2018


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