The 2014 Sync Up Conference

April 25-26 and May 2-3, 2014
Time: 9:00 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
The New Orleans Museum of Art
1 Collins Diboll Circle
New Orleans, LA 70119
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Watch Sync Up 2014 Online!
The 2014 Sync Up music industry conference is a wrap. But you can watch all of our panel discussions and keynote interviews at our YouTube channel here.

SYNC UP 2014

Welcome to the seventh annual Sync Up - the entertainment industry conference during Jazz Fest, produced and presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the festival.

With conference sessions on the Friday and Saturday mornings on both weekends of Jazz Fest - plus three days of film screenings during the week in between - Sync Up covers the gamut of today's entertainment industry from the perspective of independent artists.

Leaders in music, film and digital media discuss a wide range of topics, from artist development to independent distribution, social media, touring and web site design and much more.

Our Friday/Saturday focus is the music industry. Between weekends, we present our third annual showcase for the Louisiana independent film industry, Sync Up Cinema, produced in partnership with the New Orleans Video Access Center and the New Orleans Film Society. On the "middle Thursday," the Launch Pad/IP presents  Launch Fest, a conference connecting technology start-ups with venture capital.

All events take place at the New Orleans Museum of Art, in City Park - walking distance to Jazz Fest. For the complete schedule and speakers, see below.

Admission is FREE. But advance registration is required. Register online now here.


“This conference rocks!” - PJ Bloom, music supervisor, “Glee”

“Sync Up is one of the best music business conferences going. They consistently book talented speakers and host engaging panel discussions... Business gets done at this conference and it has been a boon to our company." - Brent McCrossen - CEO, Audiosocket

"As someone who is involved in a great deal of panel and moderating engagements internationally, I have found Sync Up to be a special and meaningful part of my speaking schedule. Not only does it revolve around an elite music festival, but the organizers, attendees and audience are true music folk from one of the greatest music cities in the world,  I haven't missed a Sync Up yet." - Josh Rabinowitz -SVP/Director of Music - Grey Worldwide Advertising

"It's official: Sync Up bests SXSW. Everything you need to know about industry in the mornings with lots of time for Jazz Fest in the afternoons." - Carrie Williamson, Carrie Williamson Marketing


Admission to Sync Up is free. But seating is limited and advance registration is required. Register online here. The event is also streamed in live video via the web site of radio station WWOZ. Conference sessions take place on the mornings of the Friday and Saturday of both Jazz Fest weekends (April 25-26 and May 2-3).

Sync Up Cinema admission is also free but no advance registration is needed. The screenings and panel discussions take place the Monday-Wednesday between Jazz Fest weekends (April 28-30). For the full schedule, see here.

Launch Fest takes place Thursday, May 1. For registration information and the schedule, see here.

Highlights of Sync Up 2014 include:

Keynote Interviews with:

  • Ronald "Slim" Williams - co-founder of the New Orleans rap label Cash Money Records, home to platinum-selling artists Li'l Wayne, Drake, Nicki Menaj and many others
  • Don Was – hit-making recording artist (Was (Not Was)), multi-platinum record producer (Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Bonnie Raitt) and now president of Blue Note Records
  • Frank Riley – one of the top booking agents in the country, whose firm High Road Touring has helped legions of acts establish successful live-performance careers, from unknowns whose names are now quite known (Alabama Shakes, the Dresden Dolls, OK Go, North Mississippi Allstars) to top-level headliners (Robert Plant, Wilco, Lucinda Williams)
  • Ken Weinstein – president of Big Hassle Media, one of the most prestigious publicity firms in the business, and a key player in developing public awareness of artists new (Rodrigo y Gabriella, Soulja Boy) and seasoned (T. Bone Burnett, Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers)

Panel Discussion topics:

  • How to convert social media followers into customers
  • Making money from smartphone apps
  • How folk group Hurray For the Riff Raff became New Orleans’ latest hot music export
  • Launching a music career by placing songs in TV commercials
  • ‘Artist development’ in today’s music industry
  • Designing web sites that work for musicians
  • What Louisiana’s entertainment incentives mean for locals

Sync Up Cinema:

  • ‘Bayou Maharajah,’ a screening of Lily Keber’s smash film about pianist James Booker
  • Allen Toussaint tribute, with a debut of a new documentary about his music and career
  • Screening of ‘Vanishing Pearls,’ a documentary on the BP oil spill
  • How to navigate the film festival circuit
  • The best in Louisiana-produced short films

Parking at NOMA:
Lelong Drive - the boulevard that leads up to the New Orleans Museum of Art - will be closed to public parking on the Friday and Saturday of both Jazz Fest weekends (April 25-26 and May 2-3). But if you're attending the Sync Up conference, you can park there. Just print out the temporary parking pass found here and put it on your dashboard. That way the police officers will know not to boot or tow your car. This parking pass is only good until 1 p.m. After that, you might get booted or towed. But, never fear. If you've been inside the museum and attending the Sync Up sessions, we'll give you a parking pass that's good for the remainder of the day - from 1 p.m. until 9 p.m. So, as you're leaving the conference, put the new pass on your dashboard and feel free to walk over to the Fair Grounds without worrying about your car. Both the temporary pass and the extended pass are good for one day only. You'll need a new one for every day you attend the conference.




9:00 a.m. - Registration Opens

10:00 a.m. - Presentation
Setting the Stage: How Louisiana Entertainment Incentives Work For You
New recording studios opening, downtown theaters getting renovated and improved incentives for making sound recordings in Louisiana (making it easier for local independent acts to use them). How can you benefit from these programs? The folks who run them are here to tell you.
Chris Stelly, Executive Director, Louisiana Entertainment, Louisiana Economic Development (Baton Rouge, LA)
Phillip Mann, Director, Live Performance Development, Louisiana Economic Development (Baton Rouge, LA)
Moderator: Michael Frisch, attorney, Shukat Arrow Hafer Weber & Herbsman LLP (New York, NY)

10:30 a.m. - Panel Discussion
How to Wring Cash From Your App
For a while, indie bands were bombarded with offers from app developers to build them something - for a hefty fee. And for what gain? But now, tools are there to build your own - which is worth doing IF you can figure out how to monetize it. We look at how indie artists can launch an app that generates cash.
Moderator: Ric Neil, Executive Director of Mobile, MediaBrix (New Orleans, LA)
3D Na'Tee, independent rap artist (New Orleans, LA)
Rroid Drazr (aka Chad Blancas), Royal One Records & 3VO Presents electronic music producer (New Orleans, LA)

11:00 a.m.
Keynote Interview: FRANK RILEY, founder, High Road Touring
Creating a Touring Business From the Grass Roots to the Top Tier
How do you build a touring career? With hard work, courage, conscience, the belief that things are continually getting better and that good will triumph over evil. That's how Frank Riley has helped hundreds of artists do it since the 1970s. Staking out a sweet spot between rootsy Americana (Lucinda Williams, Alabama Shakes) and edgy rock (Husker Du, Patti Smith) Frank has developed a reputation as the artist's agent - building careers and audiences while pleasing both bands and promoters. As Bob Mould put it in his autobiography: "Frank was great to work with and totally understood where we were coming from. When it was time to do a tour, Frank and I would get together on the phone, route it in less than an hour and say go. He booked the dates, getting us more money than ever before, with the routing exactly as we wanted it."
Frank Riley, founder, High Road Touring (Sausalito, CA)

12:00 p.m.
Keynote Interview: RONALD "SLIM" WILLIAMS, co-founder and co-CEO, Cash Money Records
Talk about a bootstraps success story: Slim Williams, along with his brother Baby, started Cash Money peddling cassettes of "bounce" rap on the streets of New Orleans. They had the ear for what people wanted, kept signing artists and selling records. Then they partnered with Universal Music and the rest is multi-platinum history. Li'l Wayne, Drake, Nicki Menaj, Juvenile and many more. So, when the industry is sweating record sales, how do the brothers Williams keep things popping? What advice does Slim have for today's want-to-be record mogul? Come to Sync Up to find out.
Ronald "Slim" Williams, co-founder and co-CEO, Cash Money Records (New Orleans, LA/Miami, FL)
Vernon J. Brown, CEO, V. Brown & Co. (New York, NY)
Moderator: Michael Reinert, partner, Fox Rothschild (New York, NY)

9:00 a.m. - Registration Opens

10:30 a.m. - Panel Discussion
From Tweets To Bucks: How to Convert Social Media Followers Into Customers
Having 30,000 Twitter followers or Facebook fans is great. But what does that mean for your bottom line? We dig into the thorny question of how to turn social media followers into customers.
Julie Greenhouse, chief revenue officer, Wayin (New York, NY)
Alex Bea, Growth Hacker, Voodoo Ventures (New Orleans, LA)
McKenzie Coco, Founder/President, FSC Interactive (New Orleans,LA)

11:30 a.m.
Keynote Interview: KEN WEINSTEIN, president, Big Hassle Media
What does it take to start a buzz and get the public's attention - with or without help from the media? Nobody knows better than Ken Weinstein. Starting in the 1980s as a critic, and then as bass player in the power-pop band You And What Army, Ken had a leg up when we started working the phones as a publicist - first at indie labels, then in the majors. He helped spread the word about - and gain audiences, and success, for - a wide range of acts whose names are all well-known: Jewel, Duncan Sheik, Liz Phair, Yo La Tengo, Bad Religion. Starting Big Hassle in 1999, he and partner Jim Merlis went on to help break Kings of Leon, Robert Randolph, the Bad Plus and many more. Today they do publicity and social media for dozens of up-and-coming acts plus veterans like Robert Plant, Lyle Lovett, Patty Griffin, Esperanza Spalding, Mumford & Sons and Gregg Allman. Journalists and other tastemakers know that if Big Hassle is calling, the music is worth a listen.
Ken Weinstein, president, Big Hassle Media (New York, NY)

12:00 p.m. - Panel Discussion
Web Site Demolition Derby
Is your web site doing all it should? If you've got the guts, we'll pop your site up on the screen and let our panel play "American Idol" with it. We'll critique your site and give  tips on how to improve fan engagement - and sales. 
Moderator: David Dufresne, CEO, Bandzoogle (Montreal, Canada)
Lee Martin, web site developer for rock bands (New Orleans, LA)
Chris Watson, General Manager, ground(ctrl) - Fan Engagement Services (Sacramento, CA)

Monday, April 28 - 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Tuesday, April 29 - 3:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.
Wednesday, April 30 11:00 A.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Our showcase for the Louisiana independent film community features screenings and panel discussions. It's produced in partnership with the New Orleans Video Access Center and the New Orleans Film Society. For details, see here.

LAUNCH FEST: Connecting Tech Start-Ups with Venture Capital
Thursday, May 1 - 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Our friends at the New Orleans Launch Pad technology incubator present the fifth annual Launch Fest, bringing together investors, mentors and entrepreneurs in digital media. For details, see here.


9:00 a.m. - Registration Opens

10:00 a.m. - Panel Discussion
Case Study: New Orleans Act That Broke Out in 2013 - Hurray for the Riff Raff
Using New Orleans as a launch pad, Hurray for the Riff Raff reached a national audience in 2013 - starting with a breakout show at the Newport Folk Festival, and culminating with signing to ATO Records. How did they get there? The band's manager, A&R rep and booking agent give us the scoop.
Andrew Bizer, manager, Hurray for the Riff Raff (New Orleans, LA)
Josh Brinkman, booking agent, Monterey International,  (Chicago, IL)
Kirby Lee, A&R/Product Manager, ATO Records (New York, NY)

11:00 a.m.
Keynote Interview: DON WAS, president, Blue Note Records
Hit-making musician (Was Not Was), record producer (Rolling Stones, Bonnie Raitt, Bob Dylan) and now president of the illustrious record label Blue Note, Don Was is at the forefront of music industry challenges in the 21st century. He's gone so far as to form a partnership with crowdfunding platform ArtistShare. We'll hear his plan for helping artists find their audience in the digital age.
Don Was, president, Blue Note Records (Hollywood, CA)

9:00 a.m. - Registration Opens

10:00 a.m. - Panel Discussion
Breaking the Band: The Anatomy of a Song Placement
Getting a song placed in a TV commercial is a proven way for unknown artists to gain a national following and launch their careers. Our experts analyze real examples of artists who rode this path to success - including Lorde, Feist, Nick Drake and more. 
Moderator: Josh Rabinowitz, EVP/director of music, The Grey Group (New York, NY)
Keith D’Arcy, creative licensing & catalog acquisition, Songs Music Publishing (New York, NY)
Peter Nashel, co-founder, Duotone Audio Group (New York, NY)

11:45 a.m.  - Panel Discussion
Artist Development 3.0
There's no such thing as artist development - that's something we haven't seen since the 1970s, right? Um, not so fast. If that were true, there would be no "best new artist" category at the Grammys. But artist development pros can't make it work until you build your chops, and your story. We hear from two of the best in the business on what it takes to help young artists reach their potential - and from an artist whose career has hit the stratosphere, Alex Ebert, leader of Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes.
Dick Wingate, Digital Entertainment Ventures and BHi Music Group (New York, NY)
Jeff Castelaz, president, Elektra Records (Los Angeles, CA)
Alex Ebert, artist, Edward Sharpe and the Magnetic Zeroes (New Orleans, LA)


Links & Downloads:

Social Ticketing
Does selling tickets via social media platforms work? What's the proper etiquette for selling via social media?

Steve Rifkind, Russell Simmons Launch New Label 'All Def Music' Via Universal and YouTube

How to Create Demand: Wu-Tang Will Make and Sell Just One Copy of Its New Album - for Millions

Why Publishers Lost Big Against Pandora

Turning Social Media Followers Into Customers
" 'Like' isn't just a button - it's someone who wants to stay in touch."

Spotify explains its business model, offers services for artists

Spotify tries to shed its bad image with artists by offering analytics

Crowdfunding Strategies
Benji Rogers of PledgeMusic talks about strategies for effective fundraising and developing a relationship.

New Model for Music: Big Bands, Big Brands
The New York Times says SXSW isn't about indie music anymore - it's all about the big guys and major marketing.

The Sync Up Conference Festival Archive:
2020's Conference Details
2020's Conference Details
2019's Conference Details
2018's Conference Details
2017's Conference Details
2016's Conference Details
2015's Conference Details
2014's Conference Details
2013's Conference Details
2012's Conference Details
2011's Conference Details
2010's Conference Details
2009's Conference Details
2008's Conference Details

Check out what else we do.

Sync Up gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

The New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival and Foundation, Inc.