If you’ve been to an industry conference before, you know how much there is to take in. Artist performances, guest speakers, panel discussions – it can be overwhelming just deciding what you want to see with so much happening in one place. Now just imagine being the person responsible for coordinating all those people and events, and you’ll start to understand the workload Tracy L. Reed has taken on since launching her own independent music conference.
Tracy is a graduate of Full Sail’s Entertainment Business Master’s program, and has spent the past two years as founder and executive producer of the California Music Industry Summit in Oakland, California. As a lifelong music fan, Tracy got the spark for the idea shortly after graduation, and has worked long hours to develop it into a successful showcase for industry professionals and up and coming artists.
“Full Sail encourages students to get involved in different organizations, and that’s how I discovered all these great music conferences out there,” she says. “So I started volunteering for a lot of different events and other music organizations like GRAMMY® and NARAS, and as I started to get involved in more and more of them, I was like ‘This seems like something that I could actually do myself.’”
Getting the idea was easy, but putting together a conference from scratch brought with it a long list of challenges. After working during the day as a contract negotiator analyst, she would could home and hustle long into the night calling different artists, producers, and executives, trying to gather an interesting lineup of guests for her first major event. She soon brought in a group of assistants to help with artist relations and scheduling, and by the time the conference debuted, her team had grown to nearly 30 volunteers.
“At the beginning it was just me and a friend of mine, Tomeka Napper, who went to Full Sail as well,” Tracy says. “She and I worked together making different topics for the panel discussions, and reaching out to speakers. Dahlia Berdugo, who was also a Full Sail student at the time, came on board as the project coordinator to help us put it all together too, and it just took off from there.
“The whole thing really came together well, and I was so proud of the work we did our first year. The support I got from the people who attended meant so much too, saying how it was a great event, and that they wanted to come again next year. Then I heard from the speakers and sponsors that if we did it again they wanted back on board. That’s when I knew we had put together something special.”
That debut attracted nearly 200 attendees – a strong turnout for a new conference – allowing Tracy to further expand the California Music Industry Summit for its second run in 2011. In addition to adding more panels and performances, she’s also secured a number of top industry veterans as guest speakers, including American Idol finalist LaToya London, GRAMMY®-winning Full Sail Recording Arts graduate Phil Tan, and keynote speaker Joe Kennedy, CEO and President of Pandora.
“We have an awesome lineup this year, I’m really excited to see everyone,” she says. “During the day there’s going to be the panel round table discussion, workshops, and one on one mentoring, and then in the evening you’re going to have the live musical performances. We have a real mixture, there’s some gospel, jazz, classical, rock, bluegrass, and country. We even have this one guy who is going to be DJ-ing Bollywood music. I have yet to go to a music conference and see anything like that.”
Launching a conference in such a crowded market is not an easy undertaking, and Tracy’s passion has helped make the California Music Summit a new destination for both fans and professionals. As she approaches the kickoff of their second year, Tracy is more confident than ever that she’s found her place in the industry, and is proud to be helping expose people to such a diverse range of music.
“I think our success has a lot to do with a lot of people wanting to find something new – new talent, new information, and a new way to network and build relationships,” she says. “I feel like I’ve really come into my own with this. I love putting it all together, and then seeing everyone come out and get something from what we did. It’s really an all-time high, and kind of overwhelming actually.”
The California Music Industry Summit runs from June 10-11. For more information, visit: www.californiamusicindustrysummit.com