The 2016 Sync Up Conference

Sync Up Music: April 22-24 and April 29-30; Sync Up Cinema: April 25-27
Time: Sync Up Music: 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. each day; Sync Up Cinema: 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. each day.
The George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center
1225 N. Rampart Street
New Orleans, LA 70116
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Where Culture Means Business

The ninth annual SYNC UP conference is a wrap! Many thanks to all of the participants in Sync Up Music and Sync Up Cinema. For the complete videos from the 2016 Sync Up Music conference sessions, please see our YouTube playlist here.



Sync Up 2016

Sync Up is the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation’s entertainment industry conference during Jazz Fest.

Sync Up brings together leaders in music, film and digital media for educational and networking events to help independent artists navigate the ever-changing landscape of new media.

With panel discussions and interviews in the mornings before Jazz Fest, Sync Up explores various aspects of a career in music: recording, touring, distribution, crowdfunding and more – all from the perspective of an independent artist.

This year, Sync Up digs deep into jazz and hip-hop. Suppose you’re a young jazz musician – say, one who just graduated from a prestigious conservatory. Now what? Who’s got the inside scoop on building a sustainable career? Ditto for aspiring rappers. Where’s the secret sauce for career lift-off?

Come to Sync Up to find out.

Admission is free, but seating is limited so advance registration is required. Register online here.

Sync Up Music will be streamed in live video at

Highlights of the 2016 edition of Sync Up include:

• Ibrahim “Ib” Hamad, manager of platinum rap artist J. Cole, in our first-ever Sunday Sync Up session – interviewed by New Orleans rapper Dee-1.
Geri Allen, ground-breaking, genre-busting jazz pianist and educator, on how to establish a career in music.
Brian Camelio, founder and CEO of the oldest crowdfunding platform – and the one with the most Grammy wins and nominations: ArtistShare.
Ghazi Shami, founder and CEO of EMPIRE, on selling records without a label deal (hint: he distributed Kendrick Lamar’s first release).
• Inside the rise of New Orleans-born rapper Pell, with his manager, Chris Cajoleas.
The Suffers: A close look at how a 10-piece soul band from Houston catapulted to national acclaim without a record deal.
• Successfully selling albums in this digital age, with Jana Herzen, founder and CEO of Motema Music, which gets more Grammy nominations than most other indie jazz labels - interviewed by Newport Jazz Festival producer Danny Melnick.
• The business of gospel music, featuring producers, agents and artists in a genre that’s often overlooked but full of opportunity.
Newport Revived: An interview with Jay Sweet, the talent booker who helped restore the Newport Folk Festival's reputation as an event that can launch an indie act's career.

And much more - see the full schedule below.

What they’re saying about Sync Up:

"Sync Up’s reputation has continued to grow within the music industry, providing practical and valuable information to musicians with advice from music supervisors from hit TV shows to legendary musicians." - Forbes

“Discussions at Sync Up have informed economic development policies in the state of Louisiana.” - Philip Mann, Director of Live Performance and Music Industry Development, Louisiana Economic Development

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

Discussion Topics and Speakers

9:00 a.m. - Registration Opens

10:00 a.m. - Panel Discussion
How To Launch A Career In Jazz
So, you just graduated from Berklee, Juilliard, UNO or another fine jazz conservatory. Now what? How do you get your career off the ground? Do you apply for the Monk Competition? Do you hope that whoever plays your instrument in Wynton Marsalis' band gets a better gig (whatever that could be) and makes room for you? Do you hit the road like a punk rock band? All of the above? We talk to two rising young stars of the jazz world – who took very different paths to their current success - to get their perspectives on how best to approach launching a career as a jazz musician.
Christian Scott aTunde Adjuah, trumpeter and bandleader
Jamison Ross, drummer, singer and bandleader

11:00 a.m. - Keynote Interview
The Art of a Career in Jazz: Geri Allen
How do you start a career in jazz? By talking to one of the most respected pianists, composers and educators around. Far from being a traditionalist, Geri Allen - who headlines the Jazz Fest's Jazz Tent - started her touring career with Mary Wilson and the Supremes. After that, she worked with the genre-busting Black Rock Coalition and Brooklyn's M-Base Collective. Whether working with Ornette Coleman or recording jazz versions of Beatles and Motown classics, she's a restless artist who breaks all manner of boundaries. Now, as Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh, she mentors young musicians as they take their own places on the global stage.
Geri Allen, musician; Director of Jazz Studies at the University of Pittsburgh
Moderator: Geoffrey Himes, Jazz Times/Paste Magazine

12:00 p.m. - Panel Discussion
Take Me To the Next Level: Artist Managers On What It Takes to Make It
You’ve got talent. You’ve got smarts. You’ve got a great work ethic and 50,000 likes on your SoundCloud. But you still don’t have a manager. Could it be that there’s something essential that you just don’t understand? Our panel, of some of the most experienced artist managers in New Orleans, sounds off on the biggest misconceptions about what managers can – and can’t – do for your career.
Alex Bowen, Able Partners Group (manager of Earphunk, Flow Tribe, George Porter, Jr.)
Howie Kaplan, Howlin’ Wolf Management (manager of Rebirth Brass Band)
Jon Phillips, Silverback Artist Management (manager of Ivan Neville and Dumpstaphunk)
Tavia Osbey, Simple Play Presents (manager of Tank & the Bangas)

9:00 a.m. - Registration Opens

10:00 a.m. - Panel Discussion
The Business of Gospel Music
Gigging, recording, social media and… God? Gospel has lots in common with its secular cousin – and a lot that makes it different. Still, it can be a lucrative path for artists who feel the call. We reveal the mystery of how to pursue opportunities in gospel.
Alfred Caston, Jamalar Entertainment and Rampart Street Music
Reginald Nicholas, Jr., gospel and secular artist/producer
Jeremiah Stewart, booking agent
Jai Reed, gospel artist
Charles Driebe, Manager of the Blind Boys of Alabama, Grammy-winning gospel group

11:00 a.m. - Presentation
$treaming, Spotify and You. Or, Where the Money Goes from Online Streaming Services
What do Taylor Swift and Thom Yorke know that you don’t? Is there a good financial reason to keep your music off of streaming services? Or are you the one who is missing out? Our man from New York, who handles Bruce Springsteen’s online publishing, breaks down the revenue streams from streaming.
Jedd Katrancha, Executive Vice President, Downtown Music Publishing

12:00  p.m. - Keynote Interview
Newport Revived: Jay Sweet
A few short years ago, the Newport Folk Festival was known more for its history than for breaking new acts. Now, after consistently providing the crucial gig that has helped to push dozens of indie bands into the media spotlight, we talk to the talent booker who gave the spark back to the event where Dylan famously went electric.
Jay Sweet, producer of the Newport Folk Festival and executive producer of the Newport Festivals Foundation
Moderator: Dave Margulies, co-producer, High Sierra Music Festival

9:00 a.m. - Registration Opens

10:00 a.m. - Panel Discussion
Busting A Move: S-8ighty On His Trip to a Major Label
Singer/songwriter/producer S-8ighty (Dave Welcome, Jr.) is a New Orleans native who has been working in the hip-hop trenches for years - most notably contributing tracks to albums by Juvenile in 2009 and 2010. After some independent output of his own, he's signed to a major label and making noise with his song "Halfway," with a remix that features Li'l Wayne and Mannie Fresh. New Orleans' favorite hip-hop DJ, Wild Wayne, talks to S-8ighty about his ride so far.
S-8ighty, artist
Moderator: Wild Wayne

11:00 a.m. - Keynote Interview
Managing a Platinum Rap Artist: Ibrahim "Ib" Hamad
Three albums, three Number Ones, more than a million copies sold, headlining arenas – J. Cole has had quite a ride. Along for the entire trip has been Cole’s wingman, Ib Hamad, who has provided the steady hand and calm support that a rising megastar needs. New Orleans’ own rising rap star, Dee-1, talks to Ib about the thrills and challenges of managing a platinum-selling artist.
Ibrahim "Ib" Hamad
Moderator: Dee-1, rap artist

Thursday, April 21: 7:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.
Sync Up Cinema + NOVAC's 3rd Thursday + BYO Storytelling presents:
(Not) For The Money
The things we're ashamed to say we did for that paper, and/or what we do knowing there's no pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Like shooting a Fruity Pebbles commercial in between making your own doc, even though you didn't know they still made Fruity Pebbles...or selling your own fruity pebbles... The theme is inspired by this month's partner, Sync Up Cinema, the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation's conference that focuses on how to make it in the industry as an indie.

Sync Up Cinema Screenings and Panels:
Monday, April 25, 1:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Tuesday, April 26, 2 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.
Wednesday, April 27, 2:45 p.m. to 8:30 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.

TUESDAY, APRIL 26, 2 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Esplanade Studios, 2540 Esplanade Ave.
Featuring a keynote by Geoff Emerick, recording engineer for the Beatles. Also featuring panels on demystifying mastering and the studio magic of Allen Toussaint. Free admission for Sync Up registrants and Recording Academy members. Details here.

9:00 a.m. - Registration Opens

10:00 a.m. - Keynote Interview
Running a Grammy-winning Independent Jazz Record Label: Jana Herzen, founder and CEO, Motema Music
Gregory Porter, Arturo O’Farrill, Geri Allen, Monty Alexander and dozens of other jazz artists entrust their recordings to Jana Herzen, founder of the indie label that gets more Grammy nominations that just about any other. What’s the secret to selling records – and supporting creative artists – in the digital age? Danny Melnick, Producer of the Newport Jazz Festival and other events, interviews Jana to find out.
Jana Herzen, founder and CEO, Motema Music
Moderator: Danny Melnick, President, Absolutely Live Entertainment, and Producer, Newport Jazz Festival

11:00 a.m. - Keynote Interview
Crowdfunding Originator: Brian Camelio, Founder & CEO, ArtistShare
Kickstarter, IndieGoGo, Pledge Music, GoFundMe – all of them are well-known crowdfunding sites for music and other creative projects. And they all followed – by a long shot – in the footsteps of ArtistShare, which is not only the oldest crowdfunding platform but also the one with (by far) the most Grammy nominations and wins. Founder and CEO Brian Camelio has dedicated his life to helping off-the-beaten-path jazz and classical ventures, providing the kind of support that leads to not just awards but sustainable careers outside of the label system. Now he has a new project up his sleeve – one that he hopes will do for the masses what ArtistShare has done for a select few.

12:00 p.m. - Panel Discussion
Hitting It Big the Old Fashioned Way: The Suffers
A soul band in the age of EDM? A 10-piece that tours even when the money can barely support a trio? How does that happen? The old-fashioned way: By rising to the top of a local scene, hitting key showcases and getting national exposure (thank you, NPR). Still indie (that is, with no record label but their own), the Suffers has management, booking and a publicist – and is playing major festivals around the world. We bring the band and their team together for an inside look at how an unlikely combo – one that started as a reggae jam band – now has the tiger by the tail.
Kam Franklin, lead singer, the Suffers
Adam Casteneda, bass player, the Suffers
Mark C. Austin, The Convoy Group (Suffers' manager)
Gregg Little, New Frontier Touring

9:00 a.m. - Registration Opens

10:00 a.m. - Panel Discussion
Social Music Platforms: Turning Content into $$
Alex Ebert – best known as the leader of Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeroes – says he releases one album every three years, but in that time may write and record 300 songs. He didn’t want the songs to go unheard, or to deny his fans the chance to pay for the privilege of hearing them. So he built an app for that, Skrapps. Tim Quirk, a veteran of Rhapsody and Google Play, has started a new company, Freeform Development, to help musicians make money the same way game developers do. 
Tim Quirk, Founder & CEO, Freeform
Alex Ebert, Skrapps

11:00 a.m. - Keynote Interview
How to Build a Rap Artist's Career: The Story of PELL
Born in New Orleans, evacuated after Katrina, the rapper Pell has steadily built the kind of career most indie artists dream about: More than 15 million spins on Spotify, a tour schedule packed with more than 200 gigs a year, and he owns the rights to all of his music. No wonder his web site rhymes with “hell, yeah.” With Pell since the beginning has been Chris Cajoleas, whose own success as a manager has mirrored that of his fast-rising client. We talk to Chris for a peek at what it takes to build a rap artist’s career. 
Chris Cajoleas, Founder & CEO, SWMMNG, manager of PELL

12:00 p.m. - Keynote Interview
Making Money From Artist-Owned Records - Ghazi Shami, Founder & CEO, EMPIRE
You want to put out your own records? You want to keep ownership of your master recordings and publishing? And sell lots of copies and make it onto the Billboard charts? If you’re in hip-hop, R&B, rock, pop, gospel or Latin, you want to talk to Ghazi Shami, founder and CEO of the indie distributor EMPIRE, the San Francisco-based company that launched the career of Kendrick Lamar.

Parking and Transit to Jazz Fest
The Jazz & Heritage Center has a small parking lot with 40 spaces. Those attending Sync Up are welcome to use the parking lot on a first come, first served basis.

The No. 91 bus passes directly in front of the Jazz & Heritage Center and continues up Esplanade Avenue - right to Jazz Fest. To catch the bus, use stop number 1039, which is on the downtown (eastern) side of Esplanade Avenue, between Rampart and Henriette Delille Street (or use the address 1139 Esplanade Ave. in your maps app). The fare is $1.25. It’s about a 10-minute ride, and the bus will let you off at Mystery Street, which is two blocks from one of the main Jazz Fest entrances. Those attending the conference are welcome to leave their cars in our parking lot and take the bus to the festival. Sync Up parking passes are required; these are available to those attending the conference only. All cars must be removed by 9:00 p.m. Any car in the parking lot without a Sync Up pass, or left after 9:00 p.m., will be towed. No security will be provided. Park at your own risk. We are not responsible for any damage, theft, loss of contents, etc.

Sync Up is produced and presented by the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, the nonprofit that owns the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Festival presented by Shell. Sessions take place at the George and Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center (1225 N. Rampart Street, New Orleans, LA 70116). Admission is free, but seating is limited so advance registration is required. Register online here.


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

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Sync Up gratefully acknowledges the following sponsors:

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