Keeping Up With "The Biz"

By Lizz Kannenberg in Arts & Entertainment on Sep 9, 2008 8:25PM

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Lincoln Square’s Old Town School of Folk Music will host the Future of Music Coalition’s “What’s the Future for Musicians?” seminar Monday, Sept. 22, bringing together experts from all sides of the music business to discuss the changing landscape of the industry.

According to its website, the Washington, D.C.-based Future of Music Coalition is national non-profit advocacy organization that works to interpret the issues at the intersection of music, law, technology and policy. Casey Rae-Hunter, the organization’s communications director, explained that the goal of the seminar is to educate Chicago musicians, label representatives, and even fans about legal and logistical influences that will affect their careers in the music industry.

“It’s really designed as a survival kit for local musicians,” he said. “We’re inviting anyone who is interested in how policy can affect the local music community.”

Rae-Hunter said that it’s also important for musicians of all levels to be aware of how to manage their careers on a fundamental level. “The point is to give practical advice to musicians about being engaged in their own careers and to making decisions that are appropriate to them at any stage of their careers,” he said. “We’re making sure they understand issues like health insurance for musicians and localized funding opportunities like grants.”

Brian Morrissey, guitarist and vocalist for Chicago band Inchworm, is one such local musician who thinks the seminar’s agenda is potentially beneficial. “I think would be helpful to learn about health insurance, especially for people working part-time jobs to support their music careers,” he said. “I would want to learn about anything that helps make life easier for musicians and allows them to concentrate on their art.”

This is the first time the event has been held in Chicago, and the Future of Music Coalition turned to one of the city’s most prominent music centers for support in bringing the seminar to fruition. The Old Town School of Folk Music has served as a music education institution, performance center, and historical resource for more than 50 years.

“We employ 220 artists here, and this seminar is an important service to the industry,” said Eric Delli Bovi, the school’s director of external affairs. “We’re very excited to contribute our resources to supporting the local music community.”

Rae-Hunter said that based on his organization’s previous events, he expects anywhere from 60 to 100 attendees at the seminar. He hopes those in attendance will learn from the expertise of the panelists, who range from music attorneys to independent label heads, and take away a better understanding of their chosen career.

“There’s a lot of opportunities in music, but it’s hard to know which thread to grab,” he said. “The idea is to demystify this stuff and give people an idea of how to utilize the tools that are available to them.”