Launch Music Conference and Festival: Is it Worth the Hype?
Three days and three nights of music fun. Launch Music Conference and Festival in Lancaster, PA, promises everything from expert panels and one-on-one mentoring to live music in every genre. But does it? We stopped by to check it all out!
Thursday afternoon is a traffic-filled downtown square as all performers load into the Marriott in Penn Square. The night started at 5:15 pm in the warm spring air with ActSorry! at the York College outdoor stage showcase. The concerts rocked Lancaster until 10:30. The performances took place in conference rooms at the Marriott to local bars and restaurants on the surrounding streets. You could walk around and catch a song from a few showcases, with as many as five performances happening simultaneously across multiple venues.
Friday was a jam-packed day with panels and performances. They kicked off the day with a 9:00 am networking before laying into six back-to-back panels from 10 am to 2:20 pm. With no break between the sessions, it was difficult for the audience to remain focused and engaged all the way through. Although the panels promised to cover many topics, not all hit the target. The first panel featured the only female panelist of the day, covering publicity and marketing. The group touched on the importance of email marketing for an independent artist and how to diversify your social media presence.
Next up were four guys covering recording and mastering best practices, but mainly focusing on the future of Dolby Atmos in the industry and disregarding the relevance of that to current indie artists. After buyers and agents discussed the best practices on how to pitch to an agent, followed by an overloaded panel of artist managers. The majority of this panel was hard to follow, and difficult for the moderator to keep on track. Lastly was the Hitchhiker’s Guide to Sync Licensing and Publishing, a confusing panel to follow. With such an abstract topic, it seemed like a printout, or Powerpoint could have aided the much-needed clarity the audience sought.
After one-on-one mentoring sessions with the panelists and other industry professionals, the night began with a full lineup of 50 acts across all stages and venues! You could pop in and out of shows and find any genre you were looking for, all while sipping on their own Launch Festival beer by Lancaster Brewing Company.
The final day, Saturday, had one of the most impactful topics, mental health. Vocal instructor Zuke began with a brief meditation before the panelists shared stories and discussed dealing with mental health in an instant gratification culture. The following panels explained record deals, touring, and a public critique of Launch artist’s submitted music! Then, of course, was another night of tunes from 39 artists rocking all through Lancaster’s Penn Square.
LONG STORY SHORT: The weekend was a fun-filled festival, loaded with live performances and industry education. While the panels were productive, almost all could have benefited from some written paring (i.e., outline, pamphlet, or projected presentation) to better follow along with the material and help the panelists stay on topic. Not all speakers opened the floor to a Q&A for the audience. It was also overwhelmingly apparent that the panels lacked diversity. Primarily white males only. The strongest part of the festival was undoubtedly the artists and the energy they brought to their performances. You could watch a singer-songwriter, a metal band, and a punk show all within the hour. Overall, the musicians rocked; the panels could be stronger and more diverse.