In one panel discussion at the first Driven Music + Art Conference on Saturday at the Seminole Hard Rock in Hollywood, someone asked, "How do you get on the radio?" Scott Putesky AKA Daisy Berkowitz, original guitarist for Marilyn Manson & the Spooky Kids, answered, "Create your own station."
This advice was among a wealth of knowledge shared reverently or tossed aside as a joke by attendees from Maine, Los Angeles, and Salzburg experiencing a day of artists passing out CDs, exchanging business cards, and generally eager about getting noticed. The first half of the day was divided into a visual art panel and two music panels, while the second half was music performances. Nothing quite on the scale of the much-discussed, oft-maligned Miami Music Festival, but we'll be watching closely in the years to come.
Humor lightened the tone of the day's lectures, but the messages and advice panelists gave to hopeful artists and musicians was sincere. Los Angeles writer and producer Jeff Halavacs emphasized there is an innate hustle musicians must have to make it in the industry. "You have to think no one else is helping you," he said. He shared that one of the most interesting artists he has crossed paths with was Weezer's Rivers Cuomo. Halavacs, who sometimes goes by "A," said that Cuomo stood with his hands in his pockets and said, "Man, I thought my name was weird."
"What's great about music today is you can have a studio anywhere," said Halavacs, who works out of his apartment. He concedes that while making an album is about storytelling, getting on the radio is about writing singles.
Atlantic Records promotion manager Johnny Coscia stressed that connections with music industry professionals should be repetitious contact "without stalking."
Panelists emphasized that playing live and playing often is vital to obtain a local following. Many of the musicians were Florida-based, but California and Georgia were represented too. A highlight was the performance by Los Angeles singer/songwriter Alexander Cardinale at the Center Court stage, which was especially bluesy and soulful. He belted out over a ukulele at one point.
Miami Beach's Jacob's Ladder sounded ready for the next plateau of success during its performance at Murphy's Irish Pub inside the Hard Rock complex. "Back to Life" has a cheeky seasonal lyric: "When winter springs upon us, summer is all we need you fall." Orlando rock act Ellacassette uses strong vocals that flow over the instruments like a crisp coastal wave washing in.
Even with so much talent around, Atlanta's Stellate really caught some attention. They brought an iPad with them to show their music video for "Sing Sing," which has a punk-pop sound that just rings in your head even after hearing it. The video matched the song nicely because it leaves you speechless.
Dominick Centi, CEO of Driven Entertainment Group Inc., said he plans to make the event an annual one at Hard Rock and wants to expand to Atlanta, Las Vegas, and Orlando.