With Forward-Thinking Content, Music Conference Targets Students, Industry Pros

By Lauren K. Terry April 27, 2012, 1:36 PM EDT

Mayer Hawthorne, a Motown-style soul singer from Detroit, performed at the Paradise on the Saturday before the new Impact Weekend.

Photo: Phil Farnsworth

Rethink Music Conference
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The Rethink Music conference at the Hynes Convention Center April 22 to 24 drew 500 students, musicians, academics, and industry experts to engage in dialogue about the state of the music business.

Presented by Berklee College of Music and music think tank Midem in collaboration with Harvard’s Berkman Center, the three-day conference offered panels, workshops, and performances. “Our aim is to bring music players in Boston together and attract people from all over the world,“ said Ardie Farhadieh, Rethink Music project manager. “We we want to make Boston a universal music hub.”

Now in its second year, the conference is still developing. “This year we have tried to focus more on innovation,” Farhadieh said. "[We] incorporated a whole Impact Weekend that included musical showcases, a 'Hacker’s Weekend,' and a 'deconstruction experience' catering to students and musicians.” The conference's emblem, which appeared in all collateral and decor, was a spark meant to represent the genesis of a powerful new idea.

The Impact Weekend programming took place on the Friday and Saturday before the conference’s official start. Both evenings included performances from artists including folk rock trio The Lumineers and alternative rockers Green River Ordinance. The showcases took place at three different clubs—Café 939, Brighton Music Hall, and the Paradise Rock Club—that were close enough for registrants to bounce between them.

On both days, the Hackers’ Weekend took place at the Microsoft N.E.R.D. Center. The event brought together technology developers, designers, programmers, musicians, and industry pros to create their own rapidly developed apps, referred to as “hacks.” On Sunday, the Music Deconstruction Experience was held at the Berklee Performance Center, where professors offered full-day music clinics.

During the conference itself, some 80 speakers included reps from organizations like Pitchfork, Creative Artists Agency, Spotify, and Converse. Musicians and bands also spoke, with sessions led by indie rockers Portugal the Man and pop-rock duo Karmin.

Through the conference's custom mobile app, attendees could share thoughts on the event using its hashtag. Planners used Tweet Wall Pro, a large screen created to broadcast tweets at events, to showcase feedback at the convention center. Through a partnership with Balloon, a Web and mobile solutions company, attendees could pose questions, and other guests could vote on the questions, giving higher scores to those they found most interesting. Queries receiving the highest points on the Tweet Wall Pro screen were transmitted to the speakers' handheld devices.


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