Over a decade ago I traveled to Miami for not only my first music conference, but my first trip taking an airplane out of town for business as the Director of Marketing for the National Association of Record Industry Professionals, attending the Billboard Latin Music Conference in hopes to recruiting record executives to learning about the benefits of the great organization. I remember the excitement as I attended various panels, showcases and most importantly taking breaks in between to walk along the beach, feeling that finally I was on the right path to the direction I wanted my career to go to, inspired by the successful executives around me and getting to not only network with them but spend personal quality time with music industry colleagues with similar visions. My passion was re-ignited this weekend when I sat next to college students or others that were just beginning their career, reminding me of the feelings I felt years ago.
Since then, I’ve attended many music conferences throughout the globe as an attendee, sponsor or panelist but Miami was always my favorite city to go to mostly due to the climate and enjoyable extra curricular activities that other states could not provide. In previous years, the only music conferences that were Miami based were the Billboard Latin and Winter Music EDM Conferences, so it was great to return to the city for the Revolt Music Conference with millenials and executives who loved the same current diverse “music with a message” that I did. Several of the panelists were not only friends but colleagues I looked up to in their respective fields ranging from streaming services to TV production companies to record labels and artist management.
Below are my favorite highlights from the conference. Additional Revolt Music Conferences can be found here.
In no particular order:
1. #AskDiddy. I’ve seen Diddy in several lights over the course of the years. Starting with helping to upload his “always entertaining” exclusive Myspace webisodes to countless interviews to most recently watching him celebrate the 2014 new year with the family he loves in his own Miami backyward with the likes of Beyonce, Jay-Z and Drake as the DJ, but none was more memorable than this Q&A. Diddy answered every question raw, unfiltered and humbly openly nervous at times that connected you to the Chairman in a way you haven’t been before. He jokes that the Q&A was more like a therapy session where he ranges from topics such as his first “I Made It!” moment to his most challenging Oprah-OWN like moments of starting the Revolt TV network, all the while poking fun at the Suge Knight 1995 Source Awards statement of him always wanting to be in his artists’ videos. He shamelessly said this was true but also mentioned “Karma comes around. Take that!” Watch the above and hopefully it could recapture the sentiment of people in the room who traveled all over the world to be there. This personal Q&A alongside keynotes are what made this conference stand out from other conferences. Great takeaway quote that stemmed from him not spending enough with his mom that we should all consider during our busy lives:
“Think about what mostly everyone at your funeral at 1pm will be thinking about… lunch. Put the phone down sometimes and spend time with your loved ones.”
2. Russell Simmons Key Note & “Success through Stillness” Book Signing “Needing Nothing Attracts Everything…”
was one of many Russell’s quoteables. I changed college majors from Political Science to Communications Radio/TV/Film after reading his first book “Life and Def” in 2000 and decided to pursue a full time career behind the scenes in music. Since then, I have read every book with his name on it, always inspired. Russ took the time to sign books to those who came after his keynote and after reading the first few chapters I’m inspired again on understanding “success through stillness,” especially in dealing with high stress and anxiety we do in the various stages of our careers that we always dreamed of having. He now helps you to think about how to maintain the success while living a balanced life through meditation. Every book he released is similar to the release of a great artist’s discography of albums, in various stages of his career he helps you with yours. Don’t you still remember when you first listened to Common’s “Resurrection” or A Tribe Called Quest’s “People’s Instinctives?” “Life and Def” is similar to those historic first albums, alongside the first Simmon’s Jewelry Jade bracelet that Russell Simmons ever gave to me still sit on the top of my dresser to remind me of those early days of being totally absorbed in passion before it became a career to remind me to always go back to that humbling place.
3. Management Panel With Anthony Saleh (Nas), Geno Sims (ASAP Rocky/Ferg), Mack Maine (Young Money) & James Cruz (Diddy). So many good quotes in this panel. Most memorable included Nas’ manager Anthony below speaking on the marriage you have to have with your artists who aren’t always in the best of moods. He boldly stated “If you stop thinking you need credit for everything you do, you’ll start to accomplish more.” James Cruz agreed, as the right hand man to Diddy himself spoke on 50 Cent’s deal with Glacieu. 50 came to Chris Lighty and him with the idea of wanting his own water but it was his investment of his own $50,000 to the brand that gave him the ROI and Founders stock that generated millions, which some thought was merely an endorsement deal. James stated “Diddy owns nightlife, that’s why we want to drink Ciroc. 50 Cent’s physique is why we want to drink Vitamin Water. You can’t align brands with artists unless there is an organic connection that will transcend to purchases by the consumers.
4. Meeting people from out of town (college students, fellow entrepreneurs & young executives). I’d lose track of time meeting someone new and hearing their amazing journeys of how they got to the conference and suggesting various marketing or career tips for themselves. One particular conversation with a college student who used his tax refund money to make the journey was inspiring, especially learning that he already produces college concerts up to 2,000 people in attendance. I knew I was having conversations with the next generation of Diddy’s, who also began his career at the “Jack the Rapper” music conference as a college student and intern for Andre Harrell. Diddy mentioned this was the reason why he created the conference, to inspire the new generation of leaders and after speaking to several of them, mission accomplished.
5. Miami Beach Ocean Lawn Performances By Jhene Aiko, G-Eazy, Travis Scott, ASTR & Jeremih (Photo By @iamdiddy).
What I loved was hearing people say they didn’t know who some of the artists were but left saying they were going to purchase their music now because of watching their live performances. Check back in a few years on some of these artists and they’ll be the biggest in the world and alot of people will be thankful for getting to see them perform in such an intimate venue with the ocean and beach as a backdrop.
6. “Who Runs The World” Womens Panel moderated by Danyel Smith, TV producer/artist manager Mona Scott Young, Kathryn Frazier (Biz3), Alexis (Sleigh Bells), Julie Greenwald (Atlantic Records), choreographer Laurieann Gibson, Sylvia Rhone (Epic Records), Lori Feldman (Universal) and Val Boreland (Revolt TV). Always inspiring to hear success stories of overcoming challenges from female executives. Kathryn’s story of waiting tables when she first started top public relations firm Biz3 was one of my favorites. She said she was inspired when hearing that a band paid a good friend $500/month to handle their publicity bookings, compared to what the company grosses now, it shows with determination and the right clients, entrepreneurial goals are within reach, even for women.
7. Class Reunion
Always great to reconnect with old friends and colleagues for lunch, pool time or even sharing a toast at the nightclub. Below is Pandora VP of Artist Relations Lars Murray, Tumblr Head Of Artist Relations Nate Auerbach and ICM Talent Booking Agent Caroline Yim poolside before the ocean lawn concerts. Also pictured is top Hollywood promoter, Johnny Cruz and DJs Khaled and Nasty of Orlando at the conference.
8. DJ Vice’s Birthday hosted by Diddy & Jimmy Iovine
I tell this story every year during his birthday week, but my first events were co-produced with DJ Vice at a tiny club called the Dugout in Pasadena. Years later, great to see him headlining the top clubs around the world like he did at Liv on Friday night, having multiple birthday parties throughout the world from Miami to Vegas to NYC to Colombia. To see him and other DJs evolve into the superstars they are now is always inspiring and fun for the feet on the dancefloor. He broke out into the “Bobby Shmurda” dance with firecracker bottle handlers and a giant Smurf. Where else can you see that but Miami? (Okay, maybe Vegas. 😉
Suprisingly being from LA I’ve never tried the UBER driver APP. Thanks to Adam Alper of Skee.TV I gave it a chance and am now a big fan of the personal service as well. Not only were all my rides close to 30% or more cheaper, I met some really great people. I joke that Uber is the new bartending, a flexible job that allows artists to do what they love while still being able to pay the bills. Talk to your next UBER or LYFT drivers, you never know who you’ll meet or who they will become as well…
Gelato cheers to the entire Revolt TV staff (Jayson Rodriguez, Rahman Dukes, Andrew Harms, Tuma Basa, Chris Roy and Sara Kanthvanthorn pictured below) alongside the awesome publicity team 42 West for putting together such a great weekend. Looking forward to what’s to come in the near future if you’ve accomplished this much in your first few years alone… It’s been only 15 months since I first heard of the beginning stages of Revolt via Neil Dominique and Julian Mitchell, imagine what they’ll be doing in the next 15… Standing on the sidelines hoping to see their next win.