Why You Should Go to The Vegas Music Summit

The Vegas Music Summit offers incredible insight into the music business. Any musician or musical professional should make it a point to attend annually.

Musical artists have a lot of questions. We’re constantly asking each other for ideas on how to get more shows, how to get a following, how to get featured in TV, film and radio, and how to get a labels attention. It can be a stressful experience and it can get very easy to lose track of what’s right. Then, along comes the Vegas Music Summit to totally blow our minds, help us connect with industry professionals and feel like this isn’t all a pipe dream. Unfortunately, not everyone who needed to attend this attended this conference. So, I’m going to break it down for you panel by panel. Unfortunately, I couldn’t be at every single panel.


Falcon College Panel Moderator- Rodel Delfin/The FALCON Program. Speakers: Terry Tompkins/Hofstra University, Clyde Rolston/Belmont University, Ulf Oesterie/Syracuse University, Scott Legere/Minnesota State University

The college panel spoke about the current trends in the music industry and about what is being done in education to connect students to careers. Professors are developing University sponsored recording labels to help students learn the processes involved in helping an artist put out music and develop their sound. Students also connect with local music programs to learn about PR and production.

Major takeaways:

  • In general, music industry revenue is growing. With this growth, record labels are starting to pour more money into A&R.
  • Record labels have turned to analytics to inform their decisions. Labels want to minimize risk.
  • The bottom line in music is still the hit song. Companies number one concern is still to find the artist with a hit song.

Q&A with Producers Kevin & Kane Churko: Moderator Eric German/Mitchell Silbeberg & Knupp

Kevin and Kane Churko have worked with rock acts such as Five Finger Death Punch, Ozzy and Disturbed. They spoke to the state of rock and roll and what they look for when producing musicians. They look for long game passionate individuals who are willing to work hard and who are a little crazy.

Major Takeaways:

  • Rock is not dead and never died. Kevin and Kane Churko have seen a recent upswing in rock as the industry adjusts the sound to fit modern technology.
  • As producers, the Churkos prefer when a band or an individual comes to them with pieces and parts. They don’t necessarily want a completed product, but they do want a complete direction and vision.
  • Covers should significantly change the song and offer something different. The most important aspect of a cover is that the singer be able to sell it.
Mac Reynolds shares insight into how he helped make Imagine Dragons a success.

Mac Reynolds Q&A: Moderator Brian Saliba/Smash Magazine

Mac Reynolds is the manager of Imagine Dragons. He played an integral role in taking them from local rockers to national stars. He explained that their journey has focused on connecting with fans and making every fan feel important and part of a community. He also talked about how to develop a brand and be a good manager.

Major Takeaways:

  • Make the fans feel like they are part of a tribe. Listen to them and find new ways to engage with them.
  • A great manager is a great communicator who can speak candidly to the musicians and who understands their needs.
  • A musicians brand should be authentic. Imagine Dragons does not engage in a partnership or sponsorship that they feel gives them a fake persona. For example, they played the League of Legends tournament because they love to play League of Legends.

Writing and Recording for Film & Television: Moderator Joe Berman/Media Horse. Speakers Vince Quintero/VQ Creative, TJ Courtney/Film Composer.

Vince Quintero and TJ Courtney spoke about the process of getting onto TV and Film. They mentioned the importance of establishing a publishing company to be sure to receive all money from the royalties of a song. And, they talked about the types of songs that TV and Film companies want for their shows in order to proceed with sync licensing. I found this point to be incredibly useful. So, I’ll just include that list instead of individual takeaways.

The types of songs that a TV network wants:

  • Dark, emotive and moody songs
  • Uplifting and inspirational songs (Think Imagine Dragons)
  • Sad, Rihanna type songs
  • Songs about travel, home family and friends
  • Male swagger songs
  • Female empowerment songs
  • Calls to action
  • Songs about having a great day/night

The Legal Panel: Moderator Stephen Sessa. Speakers Edward Shapiro, Joshua T. Love and Mitchell Manger

Lawyers from Reedsmith, one of the most prestigious entertainment law firms spoke on contracts, the future of the music industry and what gets them interested in a musician. They talked about reviewing past posts to make sure that all music that was available was as perfect as possible. And, they talked about making your best music available as soon as possible.

Major Takeaways:

  • If a small label will add value to you as a musician, sign a short term deal with them. A short term deal will help you get major label attention and small labels seldom resist working out a deal with a major label.
  • Focus all efforts on wowing people and increasing the fan base.
  • Do unexpected covers. Pull from other genres and surprise people.
Kevin and Kane Churko share insights into Rock and Roll


Marketing & Social Media: Moderator Terry Tompkins/Hofstra University. Victoria Camera-Quintero/ReverbNation, Ash Avildsen/Sumerian Records, Tiffany Bosman/AEG, Janice Wendel/Brooklyn Bowl

The marketing and social media panel talked about their recommendations for increasing the reach of a band or artist. They talked about the importance of setting goals and reaching those goals with a marketing team. Their thoughts included not developing so fast that you miss out on real growth and get a bad reputation.

Major Takeaways:

  • Use Tik Tok! No one else is using Tik Tok for music successfully. (By the way, I did this. And with zero followers on Tik Tok my first video of me playing the guitar got 196 views. That’s intense.)
  • Build up a solid fan base on the front end. Those fans who come to your early shows will be the long lasting fans.
  • Radio is still important, but the musicians have to be persistent because it takes a thick skin to make it.

Today’s Rock Radio Programmer: Moderator Carlota/KOMP 92.3 FM. Speakers Ross Mahoney/KXTE-Las Vegas, Tracy Brown/AMPLIFY Entertainment Group, Jake Wagner/KNPR/Vegas Golden Knights

Three radio music directors and a radio pitch companies explained what makes sense for their radios and what doesn’t. They emphasized the need for persistence in getting on radio, kindness and fitting the overall feel of the station. They reminded music professionals in the room that they should send music which makes sense for the given radio.

Major Takeaways:

  • Remember that commercial radio stations have to sell ads. Be sure to keep that in mind when submitting to a radio station.
  • Be annoyingly persistent and have a tough station when trying to get on radio.
  • Know the audience that would listen to the given radio station. Focus on that audience.

Streaming & Playlists: Moderator Steve Ambers. Speakers Mike Sherwood/Warner Bros. Records, Mike Warner/Playlist Curator, Ranya Khoury/Hits Magazine, Tina Warwick/Alternative Distribution Alliance(ADA)

This panel focused on best practices for submitting to a streaming playlist. They talked about fitting in to the given playlist and understanding which playlists include artists who are successful in your given genre.

Major Takeaways

  • Always utilize spotify’s early submission when releasing a new single.
  • Use playlist curator websites like workhardplaylistharder.com
  • People listen to music while completing daily tasks. Figure out which task is associated with your music. Tag that task in metadata and fit in with the task.

Agent & Booking Panel: Moderator Chris Bitoni. Speakers John Pantle/Sound Talent Group, Matt Andersen/Sound Talent Group

Matt Andersen and John Pantle talked about different factors that are important to them when building tours for artists. They also emphasized the importance of using data and nouns when approaching groups like theirs.

Major Takeaways

  • Share metrics when trying to further a business. If you don’t have great social media following numbers, share numbers from shows.
  • To understand the size of a show use data from last show, then socials and then processes on how to get more people to a show
  • A great musician does not directly translate to filling a venue. Be sure to fill the venue.

There was so much more insight, networking and great music at this event. Make sure you get your tickets to next year’s Vegas Music Summit if you have aspiration of being successful in the music industry.


Want to read more about Music Festivals? Check out our pieces on LOVELOUD Festival 2018 up in Utah and Bumbershoot 2017 in Seattle.