Around this time 22 years ago, I rented rooms in a house on Paramount Drive above Hollywood & Highland and from there founded Los Angeles Music Festival®. It was an exciting time. The commercial internet was emerging and I had a foothold in the music space on the world wide web and the lease on a loft at the edge of Hells Kitchen. I was based in NYC but had recently set up a showcase for Latin disco punk pioneers Baby Snufkin at West Hollywood's Roxy Theater. Afterwards, the Viper Room hooked us up with a table and we finished the night at the Riot House. Good times like that make an impression. And it followed a series of extraordinary experiences kicked off when a German promoter sent me and an AFN videographer to the 1984 Castle Donington Monsters of Rock featuring AC/DC, Van Halen, Ozzy Osborne, Accept, Gary Moore and Motley Crue.
When word of 1996's Global Internet Gathering anchored by the New York Music Festival began circulating, I reached out to the organizers and sold them on the prospect of including Los Angeles Music Festival in "The Gig." Shortly thereafter I sold modest sponsorships to Tower Records and United States Satellite Broadcasting. I put up a website and Tower Records put up a Los Angeles Music Festival sign outside the famed Sunset Blvd store in West Hollywood. It was an auspicious moment and everything seemed possible.
There have been many highlights over the years including shows at The Troubadour, Whisky A Go Go, Billboard Live, Viper Room, Coconut Teaszer, Dragonfly, Jack's Sugar Shack and The Knitting Factory. Keith Urban's band The Ranch performed and was interviewed on camera during LAMF '97 at the Troubadour. Other performing artists include Edwin McCain, The Untouchables, Jay Gordon, Invisible Poet Kings, Scrote, Holly Palmer, Abra Moore and Bootie Quake. For a time we streamed House of Blues concerts live on the Los Angeles Music Festival website using a co-branded media player. Many superstar artists performed including Buddy Guy, Radiohead, Joan Osborne, Bad Religion, Bela Fleck, Fishbone, the Toadies, Groove Armada and Paul Oakenfold.
I include these details in part to explain what would possess me to continue to pursue this for 20+ years. Am I crazy? Yeah, a little. I like to think of it as tenacious. In the beginning, money was a motivator. But it didn't take long to realize that this was a money spending proposition, not a money maker. But it didn't matter. I need to make a living but this hasn't been about money for years. It's about doing good, making a point and doing work that inspires me. People who should know better can be so discouraging, quick to judge and underestimate.
I was born and raised in Albuquerque, NM. It's a good story how following a 3 year enlistment in the U.S. Army I ended up in NYC as a student at Columbia University. It involves the American Forces Network Europe, and Richard Rodriguez, a college student who was in Germany breaking a world record for endurance roller coaster riding. 2 weeks after the aforementioned Monsters of Rock, I was registering for classes at Columbia. And so began a 17 year run in NYC that included a BA from Columbia, work at 1010 WINS, 710 WOR, ABC News Radio and CBS Radio Networks. I was heard on radio stations around the country as a UPI correspondent and ski reporter. Did pioneering work in the early days of the web with VisionBroadcast.com streaming audio and video well before the major players. I went to LA, produced Los Angeles Music Festival and eventually registered the trademark using knowledge acquired while working as a word processor late at night in NYC law firms.
Los Angeles Music Festival® has been expensive so I have taken breaks and had day jobs. I got married, left NYC and returned to Albuquerque where I worked in television news as an Assignment Manager, producer and correspondent. Was a state public information officer and federal public affairs specialist. Was a local Morning Edition host on an NPR station. Started a public relations, digital marketing and video production boutique and produce live and on-demand video for a major mariachi festival. Volunteered for years on the media team for a world music and culture festival, served on the board of directors of a non profit concert promotion company and I attend trade conferences including Pollstar Live! and the NALIP Media Summit. I'm still active in public service. Did a stint as a legislative analyst recently and am currently doing work for a political campaign.
As the registrant of the Los Angeles Music Festival® trademark, it's my obligation to do something with it. I've proceeded based on the belief that I'll learn everything I need to and find people who will recognize the opportunity and help. That's where I'm at now. My hope is that LA stakeholders will pay attention and help make this happen. The opportunity is to establish a festival based on the example of the New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival. Each year the New Orleans Jazz Festival attracts hundreds of thousands of visitors and has an economic impact of more than $300 million. The festival is also the principal fundraiser for the New Orleans Jazz & Heritage Foundation, which uses the proceeds from the festival for year-round programs in education, economic development and cultural enrichment. And it's not just New Orleans. It's Montreux, Montreal, Newport and Austin.
So why not Los Angeles? These successful music festival cities are not superior. LA artists, musical and cultural heritage, venues, arts and cultural institutions, not to mention hospitality infrastructure, are at least the equal of any of these cities. The difference is that the other cities have leaders and stakeholders who want a music festival in the city's name for arts, economic and other purposes. The New Orleans Jazz and Heritage Festival was the culmination of years of discussions and efforts by city leaders not Live Nation nor AEG. Clearly it was worth it. Why should we leave this up to companies working for their shareholders? The star and primary beneficiary of Los Angeles Music Festival® can be Los Angeles and its unrivaled music and hospitality assets. We'll have outstanding talent. But Los Angeles Music & Arts Festival will celebrate and support LA. It's more than a City. It's a vibe.
Los Angeles Music Festival® Network and its growing social media following are a proof of concept. On Twitter, @LAMusicFestival has 4,573 followers and recently amassed 241,000 tweet impressions in 28 days. These numbers compare favorably to LA organizations with wonderful programming and considerable resources. Similarly, the worldwide listenership of the music channel is demonstrating the existence of an audience for a well rounded music channel for adults. With a little help, the reach and media footprint of Los Angeles Music Festival® can continue to grow and support presentation of live concerts and other special events.
For reasons including brand, purpose, target audience, artist selection and digital technology, there has never been a greater opportunity to design and present a unique international music and arts festival under the name Los Angeles Music Festival®. Not for the benefit of the few, but the many. The vehicle is California Nonprofit Public Benefit Corporation Los Angeles Music & Arts Festival. Read more...