Conference links artists to industry

TJ’s DJs will hold its 1st Quarter ’07 Tastemakers Only DJ/Music Conference at The Moon. The Wednesday evening conference aims to offer anyone interested in the music and entertainment industry the necessary outlets to pursue his or her career.

“Even though (Tallahassee) is a small town, it has a big name, and there is a lot of talent here,” said Keith Kennedy, who has been working with TJ’s DJ’s for 10 years. “Not everybody can be in Miami every day. Not everybody can be in Jacksonville and New York every day, so we try and bring the industry to a place where people will want to come visit.”

Kennedy, director of TJ’s DJ’s Record Pool, said the reasons for keeping Tastemakers in Tallahassee is because of the town’s untapped market.

Tallahassee artist T-Pain was discovered at a Tastemakers Conference. The conference was the first place music executives heard T-Pain’s music.

To give artists such as T-Pain exposure to important entertainment industry people, the Tastemakers conference has been composed of various events such as a panel session where record label executives, recording artists, DJs and other influential people offer their insight and advice on how to get into the business and sustain their career.

The Tastemakers Conference began as record pool meetings in January 2001 and has grown, catching the attention of artists, DJs, photographers, models and record executives alike.

A Tastemaker, according to the Web site, is a person who recognizes and dictates trends to fans that will in return create a buzz.

These tastemakers are given the opportunity to make necessary connections with numerous people in the music and entertainment business.

“Tastemakers” who have attended the conference in the past are Tony Neal, Kaspa and producers Mr. ColliPark, Cool & Dre and Jim Jonsin.

Tyrell Perry, 22, from Raleigh, N.C., has attended the TJ’s DJs conference four times.

“Every time you go you get a different experience — different panelists, different knowledge — all leading you to network and continue pushing in this industry we know as music,” said Perry, a senior management and marketing student at Florida State University.

Perry said he has made many industry connections at each conference.

“(The Tastemakers Conference) is a good way for you to get your name out there,” he said.

Clarissa Davis, 22, is a junior nursing student from Macon, Ga. She said she has always had a deep interest in the music industry.

“Although my major has absolutely nothing to do with the entertainment industry, my heart has always been with music,” she said.

Davis has volunteered at TJ’s DJs since 2003.

“Volunteering has taught me business ethics, PR techniques and so much more. It’s like an internship for one night,” Davis said. “Til’ this day, I stay in touch with my industry contacts who have offered me endless opportunities.”

Kennedy said people who attend the event can expect to hear candid and honest discussions, and gain beneficial knowledge of what people in the music industry look for and expect when looking for trends.

The conference is broken up into four quarters. They are set up this way because the music industry in broken up in the same fashion, he explained.

This quarter Kennedy said that attendees will hear from rap advocate Wendy Day, founder of Rap Coalition, a non-profit artist advocacy group created to protect artists from exploitation in the music industry.

Day helped Cash Money Records secure its multi-million dollar deal with Universal and helped Eminem catch the attention of producer Dr. Dre.

Tastemakers allows anyone interested in helping to volunteer at the conference.

On-site registration is $75. Each registrant receives a program booklet, goodie bag of promotional items, an exclusive CD and a personalized badge that allows VIP access to the afterparty and performances.

Driadonna Roland contributed to this article.