Between October 3rd – 7th 534 artists, producers and DJs from across the world converged on Atlanta for A3C. Hosting 79 events including DJ battles, MC battles, Producer showcases, shows, dance parties, art exhibits, BBQs, movie screenings, mixers and more the artists invested their time and resources to give attendees an amazing experience and reminded us that hip-hop is vibrant, diverse and innovative.
Over 1,500 people attended the 2nd annual Action Summit for social justice where panels and workshops focused on topics ranging from: police brutality, brand activism, mental health, building a movement, youth entrepreneurship, health and wellness, civil rights, gun violence, women’s role in activism and minority representation. Five non-profits from around the country were brought to Atlanta to attend a 3-day intensive boot camp by the Center for Civic Innovation. After an unbelievably moving pitch night at the Action Summit, our judges selected the FlexIn FlexOut program as this year’s Action Accelerator winner, and $15,000 was awarded to the finalists. FlexIn FlexOut produces workshops to get youth dancing inside detention and foster care facilities, coupled with programming to continue the mentorship once kids are back outside.
The Wu-Tang Clan also came to town to kick off the festivities and to celebrate the 25th anniversary of their debut album.
RX Music and Adulis Mokanan were at the Future of Sharing and Discovery Panel to lead a discussion about the importance of being present, in the physical, in this overly digital age. The panelists were Nikhil Shah, the co-founder of Mixcloud; Nicole Johnson, programmer at WKTU 103.5 in New York; Daniel Sander, Chief Commerical Officer at Feature.fm; and Nick Merich, co-founder of Songlink. Discussing how the internet and streaming services irreversibly changed the music industry, this panel examined how artists are able to access more consumers with fewer barriers than ever before. Longstanding, traditional marketing and artist discovery methods are a thing of the past as technology disrupts the artists discovery process by turning sharing into a science.
“People are loyal to people,” Nikhil Shah stated when asked about how algorithms have taken over the curation process. “[Artificial Intelligence] taking over actually means that more people in the world are going to have creative jobs. More people working in creative industries means more people are doing things they love.” When it comes to audience engagement Shah said that it’s always important in invest in community and to reward those who are most loyal to you. “Most of the vinyl purchased now isn’t listened to. People [just] want a physical item; a piece of art and merch you associate with the artist. People are engaged with an artist, so you should know who you are and then take it to the next level.”
Daniel Sander sees value in the pre-sale, “you can pre-save on streaming platforms now … you can send your music to your fans before it’s even released. On the day of release, you’ll have more fans with music in their libraries. This is amazing to help with momentum!” Recognizing that there is limited real estate in the minds of an audience Sander states, “we are in a renting environment .. you want to engage fans and bring them back to your catalouge.”
But what about bots? Clearly the algorithmic nature of music curation has gotten so large and so complex that it can still be used by those looking for marketing opportunities. Nick Merich seems to think that the technology is still early, but “the best use of of bot technology is to use it as a communication tool for inbound marketing. Don’t try and trick your audience in thinking it’s actually you. Rather bots can help you cover the first 10-15% of conversations and generate more conversation and interest in your music overall. Allowing you to expand your sound and manage your time.”
Overall the consensus was summed up by Nicole Johnson who made sure to add that it’s of the upmost importance that you be conscious of your own brand and what you’re bringing to the table. “We are here to make art, and art makes money.”
The undervalued aspect of music and the digital economy today is the lack of physical presence. Offering a contact, a piece of merch, a personal touch, is much more effective than an email or DM – especially to those who make decisions. People in positions of power are overwhelmed, just like the rest of us. And it remains important to make a positive physical and well-intentioned interaction when the community is all stuck in their phones.