There are many reasons why bands choose to play the Midwest Music Summit. It's a simple process: Submit an application, land a showcase and buckle up for a busy weekend of tireless promoting.
Seven Degrees From Center, the Pub Sigs and the Common can all three be found playing in an MMS showcase this year. 7DFC was rejected last year, the Pub Sigs were in no part involved and the Common played a great prime time slot at the Patio. This year they're all coming to the party.
Part I: The Slighted
Perspective from Scott Dubbs, guitarist for Seven Degrees From Center
NUVO: What are your thoughts on MMS in general?
Dubbs: In general, I think it's a great thing for local music; anything that draws attention to Indy is good for the scene.
NUVO: What do you think MMS has to offer bands?
Dubbs: At least, I think the MMS can offer a different kind of exposure for local bands. Different crowds, different venues and a chance to meet other bands. At most, I think bands can get a great deal of valuable feedback on their music.
NUVO: Why should bands want to get involved?
Dubbs: Locals should take advantage of every exposure opportunity.
NUVO: Why do you think you were rejected last year?
Dubbs: I think that a lot of great bands showcased at the summit last year, and I'm sure that lots of great bands applied and weren't accepted. We were disappointed, but it motivated us to keep playing and work harder. If you're in a band and you let rejection or the opinions of a few people bother you, then you've got a long road ahead. On a side note, we used our weekend off to go and support the showcasing Indy bands.
NUVO: Why did you choose to apply again?
Dubbs: The summit is a great opportunity to play with great bands from all over the Midwest. Why not?
NUVO: Is there any residual bitterness from last year?
Dubbs: I keep the rejection letter in my wallet as a reminder. It's not a bitter feeling. It helps me remember where we've been and where we are now. I'm sure it won't be our last.
NUVO: Are you planning on attending any other showcases or parties?
Dubbs: We're going to try to go out and support as much as possible. I think every band should.
NUVO: What does it mean to you to play this year?
Dubbs: We're happy to be a part of a great event supporting original music. I'm also happy I don't have any more letters for my wallet.
NUVO: What are you looking forward to most about the conference?
Dubbs: Watching some of my favorite local bands do what they live for.
Part II: The Recurring
Perspective from Steve Hayes, bassist for the Common
NUVO: What are your thoughts on the Midwest Music Summit on the whole?
Hayes: I generally dig music conferences, so it's been a lot of fun having one in our backyard. I think having a music conference/festival does a lot to put your city on the map in terms of attention from the music industry and media. It's also proven to be a great way to get all the bands and music heads together in the same place for a couple days. Lots of meetings, lots of ideas get exchanged.
NUVO: What was your experience like playing MMS last year?
Hayes: I think it was one of those touchstone events that kind of put us on the map for being an Indianapolis band. Just based on our entry, Josh gave us a great slot at the Patio after the VIP party. We got a bunch of our friends out to the show to whoop it up for us and we fed off that energy and played a great set. It was the first time we'd played the Patio in a while, so that was fun. We got to meet a lot of people over the course of that weekend who have done a lot to help us out over the past year - Matt Fecher and Dave Brown instantly come to mind. We met the guys in Loretta and hooked up for some shows with them. In short, last year's MMS really helped gas our tank up for the big year that has happened since.
NUVO: What are you looking forward to?
Hayes: The energy. The vibe that comes when you get a lot of like-minded folks together to talk and go to shows and really celebrate what it is they do. Last year's MMS had the coolest vibe of any music festival I've ever attended. I think people were just delighted about what was going on and really felt the potential this city and the Midwest as a whole had to make a dent on the music world. A year later a lot of the bands know each other a lot better. We've all worked together and done some cool things together. It will be fun to channel that energy to some new folks and expand and strengthen what we have going on. As far as the actual schedule of things, I do enjoy the panels.
NUVO: Were you asked back or did you apply?
Hayes: We applied. I actually don't mind the application process. It forces me to touch up the press kit and bio. Also, you do feel a sense of accomplishment when you get that invitation. It feels like you did something right.
NUVO: What do you feel can come out of MMS for bands and your band specifically?
Hayes: Conferences always kind of renew my energy for my band. Not that I have low energy in regard to my band, but it gives you new ideas of things you could and should be doing. Hopefully, everyone who participates walks away with at least that much in return. I don't think bands should go in expecting the 'big deal' to come through, but they can find and make friends with like-minded artists. They can meet some people - journalists, label owners, etc. - they want to meet. Hopefully, they can parlay those things into bigger and better opportunities - shows, media attention, music distribution and such.
NUVO: What should bands keep in mind when playing music conferences like this one?
Hayes: My advice is to go into the MMS having a goal. If you don't know your local music editor for your local newsweekly, one of your goals should be to introduce yourself. If you don't know who books a certain venue, find out and use this opportunity to introduce yourself and ask about their booking policy. I think our goal this time around is to find some out-of-town acts who are open for gig swaps and to talk to some of the non-label industry folks about strategies for getting our music heard outside of Indiana. On stage, do whatever it is you do best and let the chips fall where they may.
NUVO: What would you tell bands that were rejected to play MMS?
Hayes: Two things - one is that it just means you should continue to work on your stuff and find ways to present it better. Maybe update your demo. Work on your press kit. Or get out and meet some people who can help you out next time around. Get some shows and get your name on IMN or in NUVO every week. It's harder to pass over a known quantity.
The second thing kind of relates. If a band is sitting at home with their rejection letter in hand saying, 'Those MMS guys only take bands they know,' then become a band they know. The best way to do this is pay the band rate, get your pass and go. It's a great deal - you have access to everyone at MMS without the hassle of having to put on a show. Find the people who put this thing on and meet them. Hand over your demo again. Ask what else they're doing soon. Find bands who might want to do a show with you.
Part III: The Indifferent
Perspective from the satirical entirety of the Pub Sigs. *For entertainment purposes only.*
NUVO: What are your general thoughts on the summit?
Steve Janiak: The MMS is a great opportunity for young and old alike.
Larry King: Are we playing that?
Chris Coy: Mullets by Southwest?
NUVO: Why should bands want to play MMS?
Janiak: Shmoozing with the record execs and the industry types. It's the closest a lot of people will ever come to a record deal. Just get the hell out before your shit turns into a pumpkin.
King: So the bands with no talent can get a glimmer of hope and get shot down properly here in town, so they don't waste any gas figuring out they suck.
Mark Davis: Thrills and chills for all.
NUVO: Why should bands not want to play the summit?
Janiak: I've heard some bands mention ruffled feathers at the cost. Let me tell you, 'Honey, you have no idea!' Most of the bands that said these things are completely oblivious to what kind of debt is incurred trying to put on a showcase like MMS. We tried it years ago, it was called Steve Janiak's Fucking Rock and Roll Jamboree and General Ho-Down. Total flop. But we got to drink all the beer ourselves; I suppose that was a plus.
King: To keep their integrity and their little crappy dreams little and crappy.
Coy: Because I love Indianapolis, and would hate to be successful and leave.
NUVO: What does MMS have to offer bands?
Janiak: They offer some bands nifty rejection letters and cut-rate deals on getting into the panels, chosen bands get a chance to play, as well as some killer bracelets and badges and shit.
King: A chance to have a major label guy steal their songs without any sort of repercussion.
Coy: A chance to play at Birdy's. False hope?
NUVO: Why did you choose not to enter last year?
Janiak: My band was too busy arguing about what we would eat after the show to play any shows last year. I think we had to see what a cool thing MMS was before it gave us the motivation to get the band back together. There, I said it, MMS got our band to stop arguing about what to wear and gave us the hunger that only comes when you haven't eaten all day.
King: There was a Midwest Music Summit last year?
Coy: We were only in the same room together twice in 2001, do the math.
NUVO: Why did you choose to enter this year?
Janiak: I think the VIP parties will be great. I hear there is free booze, and although I can't drink right now, I'll see a lot of drunk people. They might work for a record company, and I can slip a something into their drink and a demo into their hand.
King: We entered this year?
Coy: For a chance to play at Birdy's?
NUVO: Will you be involved in attending the showcases or parties?
Janiak: Sister, you KNOW IT.
King: There is free beer and hookers, right?
Coy: Depends on my work schedule.