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Music conference draws high-profile artists

Story by Katie Ericson

Getting noticed in the music industry is difficult. There are many different artists, genres and companies. It’s hard to know where to start.

To help students get a better idea of what to do, the Des Moines Music Coalition is hosting Music University on Saturday Oct. 19.

Music University is a conference dedicated to the different aspects of music production and business. The first was called “Self-Promotion 101.”

Now the conference has expanded.

“This is actually the first year we’ve done an all-day conference like this, but we are hoping to have 150 attendees,” said Chris Ford, the Administrator of the Des Moines Music Coalition.

There are over 40 speakers addressing topics ranging from marketing to music videos to recording.

The main event is a Keynote Presentation by Nels Cline — Wilco’s lead guitarist.

With more than 160 recordings and a ranking by Rolling Stone as one of the “new guitar gods,” Cline has a lot of experience to share with students. He is also holding an interactive guitar workshop.

Not all speakers are musicians, however.

Professor Tom Swartwood is mediating a presentation with musicians Dave Deibler and Patrick Tape Fleming entitled “Everything I Learned about Business I Learned from Rock and Roll.”

Swartwood is an associate professor of practice in entrepreneurship and assistant director of the entrepreneurship centers at Drake.

He began working with Music University several years ago. “The Des Moines Music Coalition wanted to make local music more well known along with new music while making Des Moines more attractive,” Swartwood said.

So, the Music Coalition is bringing in bigger names each year.

Brandon Darner- — a producer for Imagine Dragons, Ben Mars- -— a bassist who has toured with Gavin Degraw, and Tobi Parks- — the associate director of copyright administration at Sony Music Entertainment are all speaking this year.

There’ll be two pre-conference performances held on Friday, Oct. 18.

At the Varsity Theatre at 6 p.m.

Participants can see a screening of the documentary “Approximately Nels Cline.”

Fantasy Studios produced the film for free. Studio Director Jeffrey Wood explained his company supports Cline and Music University.

“We’ve worked with Nels for a long time and support his solo career and are happy to be involved.”

General admission is $5 but is free for those who’ve pre-registered for Music University.

The Turner Jazz Center will have a music night Friday as well, from 6:30 – 9 p.m.

The band Parrenderos is playing, and there’ll be food and drinks as well. The event’s free and offers a chance to meet other interested musicians.

Finally, the conference ends with a Showcase on Saturday at Gas Lamp from 6 – 9 p.m.

Dick Prall is headlining but more Des Moines bands are performing — including Maybeth Doran, Smith & The Sunday Silos, and Parlours. The concert’s free.

Students can pre-register online to gain free admission.

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