Patricia Johnson

Music News, Reviews, and Interviews

Panel Wrap-Up: May 17

On Friday, the Together Center featured two free panel discussions open to the public. Find a recap of each panel below.


Polar Seltzer Presents: Does Genre Matter?
Moderator: Peter O’KarmaGood Karma DJs and The Law Offices of Peter A. O’Karma; Speakers: Shawn ConteEartha HarrisPsylabDJ Leah VWiggzModuloktopusPeter ColomboRewrote and M|O|D

This discussion featured a panel of local musicians who examined the idea of genre, especially in relation to electronic music and its endless categories of genres and sub-genres and sub-sub-genres. Panelists agreed that genre can be useful when trying to describe or classify a certain kind of music, but it can also be creatively limiting for artists who are pigeonholed into a specific genre and for fans who do not look outside of a certain genre for new music.

“It is convenient to have classifications. Genre is a tool to make the music more accessible and to make digging easier.” Shawn Conte

“Without a genre designation, how can I as your manager sell you as an artist – how do I establish [what audience] we’re going to sell you to?” –Peter O’Karma

“A lack of designation [can be] your sales pitch – I can play any party. [Avoiding] sticking to one thing helps in the long run because you can play to more than one audience.” –DJ Leah V

“You want to be searchable and findable but at the same time you don’t want to be pigeonholed. Key words and hashtags make it easier for you to be more discoverable.” Wiggz

“Genre is a reference, not a requirement.” Shawn Conte


Can’t Knock the Hustle: Econ 101 for the Independent Musician
Moderator: Max PearlCluster MagZo E.Ling, Nightlife & Community Organizer with PVRPLE at Good Life; Dan Hirsch, Independent Music Curator; George Machado, NYC-based artist manager; Matt ShadetekDutty Artz

It can be a struggle for independent musicians to make enough money to survive on a day-to-day basis. This panel discussed how artists have (or have not) made money, and why. Independent artists are responsible not only for their creative work but also for managing their brand and their own economic well-being. Especially due to the rise of digital technology and the ability to manage one’s own online presence, the term “independent musician” is not black and white; even if you’re on a major label, you’re still doing a lot of work for yourself. In this sense, it is important for artists – regardless of how “independent” they may be – to educate themselves about the business side of being a musician. Artists should take advantage of technology and social media to cultivate their own persona and build an online presence to engage with fans and generate opportunities.

“Understand how the infrastructure works. Have autonomy and the capacity for self-reliance.” Matt Shadetek

“Artists make the most money from touring and licensing deals rather than record sales.” George Machado

“Get your game plan in place, build a team around yourself, and inform yourself what you will do when a certain situation comes up. Maintain clarity and communication and spell it out in writing.” Dan Hirsch

“Be very judicious – what I will get out of it? Is this going to take me somewhere in the long term, or is this someone taking advantage of me? Pick your battles.” Dan Hirsch

“If you’re not making money up front, have a plan to make money in the long run.” –Matt Shadetek

“Having the business skills allows you to preserve your independence.” –Matt Shadetek

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