Scenes From Launch Music Conference – Day 1

I woke early Thursday morning with the knowledge I would travel well over three-hundred miles before my head hit another pillow. I also knew that when that time came it would happen in a place I hadn’t been since I was a child for reasons I never really expected my life to present, but I was excited nonetheless. My bags were packed from the night before, so all I had to do was show, grab a quick bite to eat, and hit the open road.

Well, hit the road, anyways. With Boston traffic you never really hit the ‘open’ road until you have been traveling for ten or thirty minutes.

Six hours and several more bathroom breaks than refueling stops later I found myself in Lancaster, Pennsylvania for the start of the 2015 Launch Music Conference. I visited Lancaster with my parents once as I child, but driving down King Street yesterday afternoon I couldn’t tell you a thing about what I saw or did the last time I was here. It’s a city unlike any other I can recall having spent time in, with aging brick and stone structures lining the tightly knit city streets. All signs of commercialism are kept at bay, with chain restaurants being kept on the edge of the city while an abundance of local eateries, markets, shops, fill in the center. If it weren’t so cold it might snow you would think it picturesque, but even with the near-freezing temps it’s far from hard on the eyes.

Once at the Marriott Hotel downtown (which is gorgeous inside and out), I grabbed my room key and hopped in line to await my Launch Conference badge. It was only a little after the start of registration, but to my surprise there was already a nice line of folks young and old lining up to learn more about the music business. I kept to myself, collected my things, which surprisingly included an electric orange backpack, and made my way up to my room to recover from my travels.

As many of you probably already know, the funny thing about trying to plan rest amidst a busy trip is that those attempts rarely, if ever, go as planned. Before I could think about taking a nap or hopping in the shower my curiosity over the bright orange backpack I had been handed at registration got the better of me. I dropped my luggage, tossed the bag on the bed, and took out every promotional item, note, and gift that had been included. As a panelist at this year’s event, my welcome bag was a little more over the top than what a regular attendee might receive, but I’m told both gifts are filled with great stuff. Here is what my bag had inside:

For the record, yes, that is a bottle of Fireball Whiskey. There is also a bottle of Buffalo Trace Whiskey, as well as a bottle of water from Citizens Banks. That’s at least 2 drinks and 1 water I no longer have to pay for. Party on, Wayne.

I put my collection of goodies back in my bag and took a quick shower to freshen up for the night ahead. There were no panels to attend, but well over a dozen bands performed throughout the city of Lancaster. I spent the majority of my time at Tellus 360, a venue by the hotel, and during my time there I caught a killer set from Marshall Young Band. Another promising act called Matt Wheeler’s Vintage Heart. I highly recommend giving both bands a chance to impress if your schedule allows.

By the time I was out of the show it was relatively late, but I did cross paths with our friends and clients from The Catalyst Publicity Group. We met in the Marriott lobby and many hugs were exchanged. This is the second time we’ve met up in six weeks, as we all saw each other in Texas, but you won’t hear any of us complain. Everyone working in music is so incredibly busy all the time it’s often rare to see some of your closest industry friends more than once or twice a year, if at all. Events like Launch allows us to reconnect while still keeping on our grind, and I know everyone gathered in that lobby last night has big plans for the days ahead.

I’ve got to end this now as I’m a little over an hour away from my appearance on the launch panel ‘Protecting What’s Yours.’ I’ll chime in tomorrow with updates on today’s events, but you can follow my every move by following Haulix on Twitter. I have a personal account as well, but for the purposes of this weekend Haulix will have all my best thoughts. Talk soon!

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.