Springboard South Hopes to Silence Critics, Not Performers
When it comes to Houston's music scene and the lack of respect it gets, you can do two things -- complain or do something about it. Organizers and participants of the Springboard South Music Festival and Conference choose the latter. They want local musicians, music-oriented enterprises and music fans to follow their lead and do the same.
Photos courtesy of Springboard South
This year's event, the third annual, begins today and runs through Sunday. The music fest features more than 120 acts from across the southern U.S. performing on five stages at the George R. Brown Convention Center, Warehouse Live and nearby venues. It aims spotlight on-the-cusp artists from more than a dozen genres, all in the air-conditioned, rain-free comfort of downtown Houston's showcase sites.
As exciting as the variety and talent that Springboard brings to the stages might be, the performances are practically a sidebar to Springboard's main story, which is its music business agenda.
"Our goal from the start has always been to give rising artists the resources, tools, exposure, and industry insight they need to move their careers forward," says Barry Coffing, the event's co-founder. "At the same time, our artists don't get lost in a mass of performers, as is often the case with other music events. We give personalized, individual, relevant support and the chance to play, be seen and be heard by professionals who can help them."
Here's how Springboard South plans to do that. It'll hold its Band Bootcamp today, a full day of conferences and mentoring for aspiring artists. Eight different panels of experts, including Matthew Knowles, owner of the Music World record label, will provide insight and information to help artists interested in getting to next-level status.
Tomorrow, the conference debuts The Band Mall from 12 to 6 p.m., which is free to the general public. That means you, Houston musicians looking to connect with industry professionals. The mall will set up in four zones focusing on education, creation, organization and marketing and sales. Music managers, booking agents, entertainment attorneys, label owners and publicists will all be on hand. Exhibitors include Houston Community College, Lucky Run Studios, Steamboat Amp Works and the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.
Coffing is a native Houstonian who pursued his own music career in Los Angeles. There, he succeeded in film and TV, writing more than 200 songs for the big and small screens and garnering an Emmy nomination for his work. He and I chatted about the local music scene, found that we both attended HSPVA around the same time and loved bands like The Judy's and The Dishes. Those bands were talented enough to have broader audiences than they did, we agreed.
When Coffing returned to the area to be near family, he realized little had changed over the years -- the Houston area still has lots of great musicians, long on talent and short on the business moxie to make a living in music.
"Being talented is not enough," he says. "They call it the music business for a reason -- there's a business aspect to it."
So, he went to work, gathering music professionals to form wegetnetworking.com, a one-stop shop for music industry members to connect to one another. He tapped into the group, which is more than 400 members strong now, to help build Springboard South.
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