Motown serves as a foundation for the city’s musical institution. Artists such as Aretha Franklin and the Supremes put the city on the map, and arena-rock legends KISS even adopted Detroit as their hometown, adding Detroit Rock City to the list of labels on the metropolis.
More recently, harboring acts like hip-hop superstar Eminem, rock-country king Kid Rock, blues pioneers the White Stripes and indie electro-pop powerhouse +/- (Plus/Minus), Detroit has continued it’s musical tradition but hasn’t received the respect from the industry it deserves. Despite all of its musical history, Detroit lies in the shadow of New York and L.A.
However, the first-ever Motor City Music Conference — also known as MC2 — aspires to reclaim Detroit’s credibility while showcasing national and international groups, said MC2 Director Dana Forrester.
“We intended initially to have 60 percent national and international and 40 percent local, but really the caliber of the Detroit acts was so great that we ended up going with a 50-50 split,” Forrester said.
Spanning five days and utilizing numerous Detroit venues such as Cobo Arena, the State Theatre, St. Andrews Hall and The Magic Stick, MC2 will not only witness worldwide acts like Snoop Dogg and Aftermath artist The Game, but will also give local and unsigned groups such as The Hard Lessons and Dime & Jeremiah the opportunity to meet with record executives and label heads.
MC2 is also open to the public for listening, learning and entertainment. The conference will have artist and producer panels — Dennis Thompson from the group MC5, as well as producer and keynote speaker Don Was will make appearances — along with exhibits, showrooms and concerts for the public.
According to Forrester, daytime activities will include panel discussions with producers, agents, publicists and other members of the music industry. Additionally, there will be a trade show at the Cobo Expo Center with music and lifestyle booths.
As night falls, there will be more than 500 bands performing at many of Detroit’s venues, ranging from Hockeytown Café to Greektown Casino. The bands are from all genres, ranging from indie rock to blues to hip-hop.
Because of the use of so many Detroit venues, MC2 is an enormous undertaking for Detroit but will create a worldwide awareness for the city, its music and culture.
“This conference is almost demanded by the industry and fans … it will absolutely be a Detroit event every year,” she said.
“We’re putting down for a million-dollar conference on a shoestring,” she added.
The conference will be as important to small, unsigned groups as it will be to Detroit and music fans. 40 to 60 independent artists will get the opportunity to meet with an A&R executive and discuss career paths and possible record deals.
However, MC2 isn’t focused solely on unsigned bands and contemporary artists. Aspects of Detroit’s musical history will be discussed at several of the panels and shown in different exhibits, giving insight into the conference’s placement in Detroit and the current scene’s influences.
“I think the way we’re going to touch on Detroit history (will be) on the first day of our conference. We are doing some legends of hip-hop shows (and) there will be some old-school hip-hop stuff,” Forrester said
Special events are what set MC2 apart from other, similar conferences. Aside from the enormous artist lineup, visual art will be exhibited throughout the event. An artistic guitar exposé — followed by a silent auction for the works — and other exclusive projects will give the conference a unique and genuine feel.
The public audience, aside from these special events, will also have access to numerous activities and showrooms. Labels will be displaying their catalogs in several different areas for fans to peruse. The countless concerts are also a huge draw from many people.
“Fans can see their favorite bands like Moby and Trail of the Dead or new bands that they might never have heard of that are going to be the next big thing,” Forrester said.
Cobo Expo Center will be filled with skateboard ramps and semi-pro skaters for the fans. Ann Arbor’s own Lucky Monkey Tattoos will have a full booth set up for those wishing to get some body art. Also, All Access Music and The Detroit News is organizing free guitar and drums lessons for the public.
“On the most basic level, you’ll be entertained. On a greater level, you’ll learn something,” Forrester said.
She added that MC2 is an “unprecedented opportunity” for any group and music lovers alike. It could potentially be one of the greatest collections of artists and music industry bigwigs Detroit has ever seen.
If MC2 goes off with a minimal number of glitches, it will surely be a staple of Detroit events, and aside from the auto show, could possibly be the largest and most prestigious.
The Motor City Music Conference will certainly allow Detroit reclaim its throne in the music industry and gain the respect and recognition it deserves.
Motor City Music Conference
-MC2 will run April 20-24 at more than 40 venues throughout the Detroit area. Passes can be purchased for $40, $60 and $100. Day passes to the conference and trade show cost $15.
-Includes more than 500 acts, from local to national and international. Big-ticket performers include Snoop Dogg, The Game and Moby.
-There will be 40 to 60 independent musicians meeting with A&R executives to discuss possible record deals.
-Cobo Expo Center will house a skateboarding park, a trade show, Lucky Monkey Tattoos of Ann Arbor and other entertainment for conference-goers.
-More information available at www.motorcitymusic.com.