Montana Music Summit Brings Together Students, Industry Leaders

Music Summit Speakers

Oct. 17, 2018                                             

If you love music, Gallagher Business Building was the place to be last week. The inaugural Montana Music Summit held here brought together artists, entertainment executives, technology professionals, students, and entrepreneurs to share ideas about the business of the entertainment industry.

The University of Montana Entertainment Management program co-hosted the two-day event in partnership with the Summit Series, which has produced the popular Vegas Music Summit and Summit LA events.

“It’s unique because you’re not going to find this kind of access to people with this kind of talent at a smaller university like this,” said UM alum Tim Bierman, Seattle-based manager of the Ten Club, Pearl Jam’s official fan organization.

Students attending the event got to connect with panelists including Bierman; John Wicks, the founding member of Fitz and The Tantrums who also has collaborated with Bruno Mars; Michael Garcia, the director of industry relations and an assistant professor at the University of Southern California Thornton School of Music; and several Montana and nationally recognized entertainment executives.

“The students were talking to these executives, asking them how they got started and giving them their business cards,” said Mike Morelli, director of the Entertainment Management program, the College of Business-based curriculum that introduces students to the business of entertainment. “They were doing all the things we’d taught them to do. It was great.”

Sessions covered a wide range of entertainment management topics, including guidance to recording original music, talent management, how to produce a music festival, and community building through music.

Summit Series events also provide opportunities for local artists to grow their following, and UMEM students were tasked with planning an artist showcase that featured Missoula talent such as Chloe Gendrow and Brooks Forsyth. Imagine Dragons and Awolnation once showcased their talents at Summit Series events on their path to becoming successful recording artists.

“It was our responsibility to coordinate with the artists — when they were going to show up for sound check, how long the sets were going to be, how long in between the sets,” said Dani Minette Warner, a UMEM student who is the president of the program’s student-run record label, Switchback Records. “It was such a learning experience.”

Given its academic setting, the Montana Music Summit also included a job fair that let students connect and sign up to work with local and regional music and film festivals. Among the organization represented were the River City Roots Festival, the Red Lodge Songwriters Festival, and Logjam Presents.

Morelli said he plans to produce the Montana Music Summit again next year.

“We’ve been traveling to conferences and festivals for years, but that really limits it to the student who can get out of classes and who can afford it,” Morelli said. “This summit, which was made possible by a generous grant from destination Missoula, was accessible to everyone, and it not only broadened their understanding of what’s possible after they graduate, it provided them with the connections they need to do it.”

The event was supported by a $10,000 grant from Destination Missoula.

Photo: Panelists John Wicks, of Fitz and the Tantrums, left, and Eric Manegold, of Open Range Entertainment. Photo by Katie Huot.