Speakeasy with Roger Jansen 

Roger Jansen of KMA

Roger Jansen of KMA Management is the organizer behind the MOBfest music conference in Chicago, now in its ninth year. Indy participants this year include Margot & the Nuclear So & So’s, Seven Degrees From Center and Rev. Peyton’s Big Damn Band. Schedule and details are available at www.ChicagoMOBfest.com.

Q: Describe your day job.

A: I am not in the conference business; I am in the music business! I am [an artist] manager and have closed many recording contracts with my clients including Dovetail Joint to Columbia, Disturbed to Giant/Reprise, From Zero to Arista, among others. Also negotiated over a million dollars worth of publishing deals. I am currently running the management company, and MOBfest is merely a vehicle for me to help expose my own artists and develop more relationships through the music business community.

Q: Who tops the KMA agenda and what’s made it infamous?

A: Disturbed was the biggest band I have yet been involved with. I no longer work with them in a management capacity, though we are friends and I support all of their endeavors. Along with our bands, we have evolved our company into managing producers and songwriters, who have worked on major label releases. We have also merged with DEAFDOG Music studios, a top of the line recording facility in Chicago, where we can actually help develop emerging artists from start to deal closing!

Q: Why does MOBfest exist?

A: Mobfest was created as a platform to help artists get exposure into the major label music industry. For one weekend, the music industry from both coasts focus on the Midwest.

Q: Arguably, what’s most valuable about the weekend?

A: The networking and introductions are always the most important facet of a conference. People get out of it what they put into it.

Q: Isn’t “Music Over Business” an oxymoronic acronym to dub a heavily industry-scouted conference? 

A: What it doesn’t mean is “music INSTEAD of business.” What it refers to is that “if the music is there, the business will follow”! And at MOBfest, there will be plenty of business to follow the great music.

Q: From its inception, was MOBfest built to expand?

A: We actually have managed to keep MOBfest small and controlled. Our goal is not to expand per say, but to maintain quality control and a high ratio of newly discovered success stories. Any growth has to happen organically.

Q: Does the possibility of A&R examination and inking a deal really exist for bands booked without prior label interest?

A: In most cases, the A&R community already has mapped out the bands they want to see. It is rare at any conference that a completely unknown artist happens to play a set in front of an eager A&R scout coincidentally sitting in the audience. We provide an opportunity for the bands that have already built their buzz, and created a demand.

Q: How has the city of Chicago taken to the conference name trading on its historic connection with organized crime?

A: We could answer this but then we’d have to kill you. We have to keep that stuff highly confidential. Our thugs go out and make sure to silence anyone that thinks there is any sort of relevance to that.

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