Sync Up Conference 2017

Published on: April 18th, 2017

The 10th annual Sync Up conference is coming April 28 to May 6. This unique conference brings together leaders in music, film and digital media for educational and networking sessions during Jazz Fest. Events include Sync Up Music April 28-29 and May 5 (which will also streamed live at, Sync Up Cinema May 1-3 and a Sync Up Media Reception May 6.  Admission is free, but advance registration is required - register online here.

With panel discussions, interviews, screenings and social events, Sync Up approaches the entertainment business from the perspective of the independent artist. All events take place at the George & Joyce Wein Jazz & Heritage Center (1225 N. Rampart St.). 

Highlights of Sync Up Music 2017:
• A keynote interview with Derek Vincent Smith, aka the electronic music megastar Pretty Lights
• “Case study” discussions with two New Orleans groups who broke big in 2017: The Revivalists and Tank & the Bangas
• Panels on women at the helm of major event production, a clear-eyed look at the cost of making indie records and licensing music to nontraditional film outlets
• An “entrepreneur focus” on O.G. Blake Owens, who masterfully cross-promotes his businesses in hip-hop and night bike touring 

Sync Up Cinema – presented in partnership with the New Orleans Video Access Center – takes place May 1-3.

Highlights of Sync Up Cinema 2017:
• A keynote from production designer Hannah Beachler, a veteran of work on “Moonlight,” Beyoncé’s “Lemonade” and Marvel’s upcoming “Black Panther”
• Lots of film screenings, including “Nos Amis,” an HBO Documentary on the rock band Eagles of Death Metal returning to Paris’ Bataclan theater a year after the infamous terrorist attack during their concert there
• Panels on breaking into the film festival world and an intro to the Louisiana Film Prize
• Films spotlighting the cultures of Cuba and Jamaica

On Saturday, May 6, a media reception for local and visiting journalists covering New Orleans’ culture during Jazz Fest will be held.

For the complete schedule of panels, keynotes and screenings, please visit


SYNC UP 2017

Friday, April 28 SYNC UP MUSIC
10a Panel Discussion
How Much Should You Spend on Your Indie Record?
The promise of digital technology was that we’d all be making albums in our bedrooms on our laptops for free, right? Some artists – especially in hip-hop – are able to do just that, and convincingly. But many others are spending anywhere from $1,500 to $30,000, and sometimes more, to make a professionally produced record in a proper studio. How much should you plan to spend? We talk to four record makers with wildly divergent approaches.
Brian Seeger, jazz musician
Nesby Phips, rap artist
Lefty Parker, rock artist
Chris Finney, record producer/engineer

11a Case Study
The Revivalists
Since forming in New Orleans 10 years ago, The Revivalists have built a career the old-fashioned way: one fan at a time, thanks to blistering live performances. Without much fanfare, they’ve steadily built an audience to the point where they’re main attractions at many of the biggest festivals in the country – getting billing higher than bands that have been around twice as long. What did they learn along the way? We talk to key members to find out. 
David Shaw, lead singer
Zack Feinberg, guitar
Andrew Campanelli, drums
Dave Melerine, tour manager

11:40a Entrepreneur Spotlight
O.G. Blake Owens, hip-hop artist and co-founder Bike Rite/Get Up N Ride
A polished G-funk rapper with several solid releases to his name, O.G. Blake Owens had a straight job at a music club and was promoting shows on the side to spotlight his friends. Then he had a vision – a brightly lit one – of friends on multi-colored bicycles taking over the night streets. His Get Up N Ride rolling parties have become a massive phenomenon – changing the bicycle culture of New Orleans – and a profitable sideline that he cross-promotes with his music. 

12:15p Panel Discussion
Meet the Festival Buyers
You’ve got a new act on the scene and you want to get beyond nightclubs. What’s next? Festivals. But it’s too hard – and too expensive – to make big road trips. So you need to break into the festivals in your hometown. We introduce you to some of the key talent buyers at the bigger festivals in the New Orleans market, so you can hear what it takes to score a gig. You’re welcome.
Don Kelly, Voodoo Music & Art Festival
Reeves Price, Buku Music Festival
Jared Zeller, Mid-City Bayou Boogaloo Festival
Greg Schatz, French Quarter Festival
Cleveland Spears, Fried Chicken Festival

Saturday, April 29 SYNC UP MUSIC
10a  Panel Discussion
Planning your release strategy: Distribution, Publicity and Gigs
Should you make physical product or go strictly digital? Should you hire a publicist? Or a radio promoter? What outlets mean the most to your audience? What gigs are not only attainable but also make strategic sense?
Josh Hefner, drummer and business manager, The Royal Teeth
Marc Broussard, singer/songwriter

11a  Panel Discussion
Getting Your Music Into Non-Traditional Film/Video Projects
Licensing a track to a major motion picture or TV production requires access to a very insular circle of the “music supervisors” who recommend tunes to directors and producers. Is there a way into the world of “sync” licensing that bypasses the big players? Web TV, upstart video games and indie films are great ways to get a foot in the door.
Josh Rabinowitz, The Grey Group
Sarah Bromberg, music supervisor
Darcy McKinnon, New Orleans Video Access Center

12p Keynote Interview
Pretty Lights
A skateboarder turned punk rocker from Colorado, Derek Vincent Smith went on to become the famous DJ/producer who Rick Rubin called “the face and voice of the new American electronic music scene.” But even if electronic music is his thing, he never lost the taste for real musicians improvising onstage. So it’s not entirely surprising that one of the biggest concert draws on the tour circuit now calls New Orleans home. We hear his thoughts on how young artists can break through in today’s music business.
Moderator: Sam D’Arcangelo, OffBeat magazine

Monday, May 1 SYNC UP CINEMA
2p Best of the Fests
Top Louisiana-produced short films from the New Orleans Film Festival 2016, the 48 Hour Film Festival and the Louisiana Film Prize 2016.

4:30p The Revolution will be Televised
Firelight Media and Field of Vision present short films made in a new era by minority creators focused on issues affecting vulnerable communities. Presented by Firelight’s Loira Limbal, this bloc will contain Firelight’s shorts, along with Garrett Bradley’s Sundance Jury Award winner “Aloné,” and shorts from NOVAC’s  “BetteR: Baton Rouge” short documentary project.

5p Louisiana Film Prize Social
Meet the crew behind the Louisiana Film Prize and learn how you can shoot a short in Shreveport and enter to win $50,000 at the world’s most generous short film competition!

6p Panel Discussion: Screen the Screener
The process of getting your film accepted into a film festival can feel like opaque magic. Meet screeners who have screened and curated for festivals big and small, and learn what to do and not to do as you approach festival season.
Clint Bowie, New Orleans Film Festival
Vaughn Greve, Sundance Film Festival, Outfest, AFIFF, Sundance Labs
Angela Catalano, Shotgun Cinema, Milwaukee Film, True/False, New Orleans Film Festival, Milwaukee Underground
Greta Hagen-Richardson, Citizen Jane, True/False, Los Angeles Film Festival
Moderator:  Lauren Domino

7p BURNING SANDS presented by Netflix, with filmmaker Gerard McMurray
“Burning Sands” takes you on a raw, voyeuristic journey of fraternity pledging through the eyes of one favored pledgee, who is torn between honoring a code of silence and standing up against the intensifying violence of underground hazing. Led by a breakthrough performance by Trevor Jackson, New Orleans’ own Gerard McMurray's feature directorial debut brings an emotional honesty to the classic tale of "rites of passage" and the complicated bonds of brotherhood.

Tuesday, May 2 SYNC UP CINEMA
Mento music is a fusion of African and European musical traditions that began in Jamaica in the 19th century. Although widely played throughout the island for many years, it wasn’t until the early 1950s that the first mento recording appeared on a 78 rpm disc. This decade was mento’s golden age, as a variety of artists recorded mento songs in an assortment of rhythms and styles. It was the peak of mento’s creativity and popularity in Jamaica and the birth of Jamaica’s recording industry. This film was edited by New Orleans’ own Tim Watson.

Enjoy short films from this year’s Jazz Fest international focus country, Cuba. Including William Sabourin O’Reilly’s  “código color: memorias,” new works by Cuban animators and youth-created videos from Cuba’s Cámara Chica collective.

4p The New Orleans Musicians Clinic 19th Birthday Celebration Happy Hour 
Before we screen “One Note At a Time,” join the team from the New Orleans Musicians Clinic, as we celebrate 19 years of keeping the music alive!

“One Note At a Time” is a beautifully crafted feature documentary, rich with colorful characters. It’s set in the iconic musical backdrop of New Orleans, where the music stopped in 2005... when one of the most deadly and destructive hurricanes in American history struck. This is the story of some who made it back, told in their own words, with those who fought alongside to resuscitate the music scene – most notably the founders of The New Orleans Musicians’ Clinic and Assistance Foundation, a unique medical facility with the motto “Keeping the music ALIVE.”

7:30p WE ARE X, with a teaser for ANIMALS
Under the enigmatic direction of drummer, pianist, composer and producer Yoshiki, X Japan has sold over 30 million singles and albums combined – captivating such a wide range of admirers as Sir George Martin, KISS, Stan Lee and even the Japanese Emperor – and pioneered a spectacle-driven style of visual rock, creating a one-of-a-kind cultural phenomenon. Chronicling the band’s exhilarating, tumultuous and unimaginable history over the past three decades – persevering through personal, physical and spiritual heartache – the film culminates with preparations for their breathtaking reunion concert at New York’s legendary Madison Square Garden. Directed by acclaimed documentarian Stephen Kijak ( “Stones in Exile,” “Scott Walker: 30 Century Man” ),  “We Are X” is an astonishingly intimate portrait of a deeply haunted — but truly unstoppable — virtuoso and the music that has enthralled legions of the world’s most devoted fans. Preceded by a teaser for Benjamin Simmons’ upcoming NOLA documentary, “Animals.” 

Wednesday, May 3 SYNC UP CINEMA
2p BACK STORY by Iman Shervington 
“Back Story” is a documentary created by the Institute of Women & Ethnic Studies that examines what it feels like to be a black male living in America. Five young black men from different backgrounds and areas of New Orleans filmed their lives for six months and share their views on everything from education to criminal justice. Mixing archival footage with interviews at recent civil rights events and with civil rights leaders Marc Morial and Al Sharpton, this documentary provides a glimpse into the variety of expression of black maleness in the United States.

“Hogwash” is a Louisiana web series by Zack Godshall. Set in the fictional Louisiana town of Oubliette, “Hogwash” is a quirky tale about unintentionally-hilarious locals doing mysterious things. Godshall makes films about unsung people and places that exist along the fringes of culture. His subjects range from claim adjusters working in post-Katrina New Orleans to divinely inspired folk architects. His first two narrative films, “Low and Behold” and “Lord Byron,” premiered at the Sundance Film Festival and were distributed by Sundance Artists' Services, and his documentaries have played on and The Documentary Channel, and have garnered awards at film festivals around the country.

5p The Road Film, a discussion with Darren Dean
Producer Darren Dean (“Tangerine”) brings his crew to New Orleans for the new road film,  “Short History of the Long Road,” and shares the do’s, don’ts and secrets of this adventurous style of filmmaking. We also present a conversation with local producer Angela Tucker, whose recent road film  “Intersection” is about to premiere at Full Frame, and who is in development on a local indie, “Paper Chase.”

6p SYNC UP CINEMA KEYNOTE: Hannah Beachler
Hannah Beachler is a prolific production designer with an affinity for evocative designs and visuals. She crafts a unique emotional landscape for every story. Beachler is currently working with director Ryan Coogler on Marvel’s much-anticipated “Black Panther.” She previously collaborated with Coogler on: “Creed,” the spinoff from the Rocky film series, and “Fruitvale Station,” 2013's Sundance Film Festival breakout and winner of the Prix de L’Avenir in the Un Certain Regard competition at the 2013 Cannes Film Festival, as well as 45 other nominations and awards. She also collaborated with director Barry Jenkins on the 2017 Best Picture Oscar-winning film “Moonlight,” a coming of age tale that transcends traditional genre boundaries. Beachler also designed Beyoncé’s stunning visual concept album “Lemonade,” for which she won the 2017 Art Director’s Guild Award for Excellence in Production Design for Awards or Special Events and earned a 2016 Emmy nomination for Outstanding Production Design for A Variety Nonfiction Event or Award Special.

7p WIFT LA presents Courtyard Happy Hour & Book Launch for “Almost Hollywood, Nearly New Orleans: The Lure of the Local Film Economy,” by Vicki Mayer.
Celebrate Hannah Beachler’s keynote and the closing of Sync Up Cinema 2017 with a happy hour presented by WIFT-LA, along with the book launch for Vicki Mayer’s  “Almost Hollywood, Nearly New Orleans.”
“Nos Amis” is an HBO Documentary film following the rock band Eagles of Death Metal’s return to Paris after the horrifying terrorist attack at the Bataclan concert hall a year earlier.

Friday, May 5 SYNC UP MUSIC
10a Panel Discussion
Women Running the Show: Female event producers, tour managers and sound engineers
It’s a man’s world? Don’t tell that to these strong ladies, who run the show for some of the biggest acts and largest events. Making it to the top of the game is never easy, but it takes a special kind of grit to bust through the glass ceiling in the concert business.
Sami Slovy, tour manager for Neko Case, production coordinator for Buku Festival
Christine McBride,  event producer, The Solomon Group
Alex Diaz, front of house engineer, The Dirty Dozen Brass Band
Addie Olsen, festival director, Buku Festival
Sharita Cenac, event producer, Sharita’s World
Alison Fensterstock, moderator

11a Panel Discussion
Oh No You Didn’t – Use My Song Without Permission
Yes, copyright infringement is still a thing. Major corporations, political campaigns and media outlets continue to use copyrighted music without obtaining the necessary permissions – or paying for them. We’ll show you real-world examples of how infringers operate. And we’ll show you the consequences of failing to make sure your copyrights are up to date.
Brent McCrossen, CEO and co-founder, AudioSocket
Tim Kappel, attorney

12p Case Study
Tank & the Bangas
From coffee houses and poetry slams to music festivals and National Public Radio:  it’s taken a few years for Tank & the Bangas to develop an audience for their unique blend of rock and performance art. But now that this very nontraditional New Orleans band is the winner of a nationwide video contest on NPR, we ask, “What’s their key to success?” (Hint: “C” stands for “confidence.”)
Tarriona “Tank” Ball, lead singer and poet
Joshua Johnson, drummer and musical director
Albert Allenback, saxophone
Tavia Osbey, manager

10a Location: The Jazz & Heritage Gallery, 1205 N. Rampart Street (corner of Rampart & Gov. Nicholls)
Join us for coffee and Bloody Marys as we welcome local and visiting media folks who are covering New Orleans music and culture during Jazz Fest.

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