If you're involved in the music scene in this town in any way, you probably have an opinion about the bands, their strategies, the clubs, the record sales, the fanbase, the labels, the Internet and everything in between.
And yet there's been no organized way to hobnob, analyze, debate and discuss these critical elements of the rock biz for years--at least not in any way that doesn't involve heinous trollery. That is, until Next Big Nashville added the conference dimension to the rock festival. This year's panels--which require a badge for entry--are bigger and better. So don't resist this genuine opportunity to get schooled by folks who have more than just opinions on subjects near and dear to your hearts--they have actual jobs and experience in the actual industry dealing with these very topics. At the very least, don't all you armchair A&R folks want to find out if you're really as smart as you think you are?
The panels run Wednesday through Friday. Go here for the full deets, but here's Wednesday's itinerary:
"How Nashville Became Music City," with Robert K. Oermann: This is bound to be a fascinating talk about Nashville's transformation into country-music capital of the world, and Oermann is a first-class critic who's put in the time covering country music for years. For anyone who continually marvels at the world's resistance to see Nashville for anything else musically, this will probably answer a lot of your questions. (You've probably seen Oermann on any country-music special or on PBS hosting that Patsy Cline doc.) 10 a.m.
What's Next for Nashville? The Music Business Council convenes to discuss Nashville's musical future. Sadpants: It does not look like Jack White will be there (or Emmylou Harris, or even the mayor), but so what? Anyone who's ever grumbled about the lack of a rock infrastructure should be front-and-center at this jam, where community leaders will talk hopes and dreams and rainbows. Consider it your chance to use the Q&A to say what the hell you think this town needs. 11:15 a.m.
Two panels get Nerd City with Glenn Peoples (aka Coolfer, now a Billboard staffer), but beware that you have to know something going into this panel, namely, what "direct to consumer" means, since Direct-to-Consumer: Buy Direct? at 12:30 p.m. is about whether that's any good. And The Long Tale at 1:30 p.m. is about whether The Long Tail theory about retail has stood up over the last five years.
The Site Doctor Is In: People in the audience must be willing to announce their "ailing URLs" so the Site Doctor can give them the old once-over, telling you why your site sucks and how to fix it. Hilarity ensues. 1:45 p.m.
A Conversation with Hypebot's Kyle Bylin on Digital Natives: A talk about people--possibly like you!--born after 1980, who--get this--are like, totes like born into the Internet and texting and computers and shit being like totally normal and all around and stuff, and they don't even know what it was like before! 3 p.m.
Music Sponsorships: Who Likes Money? I recommend this personally, because, if for no other reason, I think everyone who constantly cries "Sellout!" in this town should go listen to people talk about the art/commerce balance--particularly now, when all your favorite bands have already sucked hard on the corporate lollipop, or would if only they were asked. Cool points for the case studies they'll discuss of examples of music sponsorship situations and their attendant details. 4:15 p.m.
Location: The Martha Rivers Ingram Center for the Performing Arts at Vanderbilt University, 2400 Blakemore Ave.