Relix Live Music Conference Puts Spotlight on Gender Parity, Privacy

Shirley Halperin

The third annual Relix Live Music Conference took place at New York’s Brooklyn Bowl earlier this week. The two-day confab, which featured panels and Q&As by executives from such companies as Live Nation, Q Prime, SiriusXM, Bowery Presents, Glassnote Music, Shorefire Media and Splice, among many others, offered a fascinating and honest look at the live music industry, and the culture surrounding the business.

Among the highlights (see the full agenda here) was a talk with venture capitalist and tech activist Roger McNamee, conducted by Dean Budnick, editor-in-chief for the long-running music publication that hosted the conference (pictured above). The author of the book “Zucked,” McNamee shared tales of his early meetings with Mark Zuckerberg and offered his views on Silicon Valley today, the politics of misinformation — “the algorithmic boosting of misinformation, hate speech and conspiracy theories” — and the pervasiveness of data mining.

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He didn’t mince words when it came to privacy’s worst offenders: Google and Facebook, stopping short of calling the Android system the devil for “following you for the rest of your life.” He emphasized that such obtrusiveness “should be illegal.” McNamee went easier on Apple which he said was more respectful in its business as it related to privacy, an issue he described as: “not about right and left, it’s about right and wrong.”

Closer to Relix’s home of music coverage, Rolling Stone contributor David Fricke spoke with Warren Haynes about his tenure with the Allman Brothers Band and Gov’t Mule. Fricke also moderated a case-study panel with  Bowery Presents partners John Moore and Jim Glancy.

Relix publisher and Brooklyn Bowl owner Peter Shapiro interviewed 9:30 Club/The Anthem owner Seth Hurwitz and the two regaled the crowd with amusing personal anecdotes. Ditto for the “I Was A Teenage Guster Rep” panel, which recalled the band’s grassroots growth from Boston band to enduring live act with a devoted following. “We’re not a jamband but we were using a jamband model,” said Guster singer Ryan Miller (pictured below).

Pressing issues of diversity and gender parity were discussed at length at the conference, with Shorefire founder Marilyn Laverty, who reps Bruce Springsteen and Elvis Costello, among many other top-tier musicians, declaring: “If we’re not going to lead in our business how can we expect corporate america to do the same thing?” The sentiment was shared by veteran attorney Jennifer Justice, who noted, “If women were equal to men financially, this world would be a much better place.”

The takeaway for the nearly 400 in attendance was perhaps best illustrated by the conference’s opening remarks, delivered by Rachel Baron, chief personnel officer at Shapiro’s Dayglo Ventures: “Use your voice, find your passion, chat with people here and see if you can help a cause. … Music is what connects us here. It’s so powerful.”

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