The Memphis Music Foundation's latest ambitious undertaking, the Memphis Music Launch, culminates this Friday night with a showcase at the New Daisy Theater. The project was born roughly a year and a half ago out of a casual conversation between the foundation's Cameron Mann and Launch Memphis president Eric Mathews.
"Eric had just completed one of Launch Memphis' 48-Hour Launch events and was explaining it to me," says Mann, director of the foundation's Music Resource Center. "My first thoughts were: Could we do this for music, and has anyone done it before?
"Eric's answer was yes and no but that he was working with a local nonprofit called Fuel Film on a 48-Hour Film Launch and that he would be happy to work with us to form the music version of this event. We got out a blank piece of paper and started taking the notes that would lead to our first event in April 2011."
That first stage, and indeed the principal element of the Memphis Music Launch event, was a two-day crash course in all aspects of the music industry (as well as good business practices, in general) undertaken by eight teams assembled from the 68 participants — all hopeful musicians and music business professionals who at the end of the two days pitched their prospective projects to a panel of experts.
The panel then selected the finalists who will compete for the grand prize at Friday's showcase: Arvada, Butta MD, Go Judo Presents: Sunny Uppercut, and the Delta Collective — four relatively unknown local music entities.
"We are excited about all eight groups that got to go through the weekend, as they are all still together and working toward goals," Mann says. "We are especially excited for the four finalists competing in the showcase. Each of those teams worked hard to get into the finals at the launch weekend, and they have spent the last 90 days grinding, recording, writing, rehearsing, and working on their marketing plans.
"They are all very different, and each one has their own unique approach to their branding, their show, and their use of the tools available to them," Mann continues. "Four totally different genres of music came out of the weekend, and I don't believe that's an accident. We have a very diverse community of artists in Memphis."
The finalists are competing for an array of career-advancing prizes, including a distribution deal with independent label/distributor Select-O-Hits, a CD replication package from AudioGraphic Masterworks, $1,000, and a host of other promotional services from local providers.
According to Mann, the project is exemplary of what the foundation does every day:
"Memphis Music Launch is a compressed version of everything that we do at the Music Resource Center — it's a microcosm of the music industry.
"Our mission is to educate and empower artists to make more money from their music. We connect them to our local ecosystem of music businesses and resources. We foster networking and creative collaboration within that network and in some cases help to incubate new businesses that fill gaps that exist in the local industry. Since the weekend brings together artists and creatives, music business professionals, local studios and attorneys, it's almost like seeing our mission and purpose happening live, in real time."
The Memphis Music Launch showcase takes place Friday, July 8th, at the New Daisy Theater and features the bands Arvada, Butta MD, Go Judo Presents: Sunny Uppercut, the Delta Collective, and a supergroup featuring Jody Stephens (Big Star) and Steve Selvidge (the Hold Steady). Doors open at 7 p.m., and admission is $5.
Go to memphismeansmusic.com/mll for more information.