Next week, Jake Stone (Bluejuice) will host the first of three free seminars at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

As the producer, booker and host of the three-event series, Jake Stone has tapped musicians such as Hermitude, Thundamentals and Boy & Bear, as well as industry figures as Todd Wagstaff (Parker & Mr French) and Veronica & Lewis (triple j), to weigh in on the changing face of contemporary and digital music.

Tackling topics like building a strong industry team, television and film score, and the career journey from classical to pop, the seminars take place over three dates on 26 August8 September and 27 October.

Naturally, the Sydney Conservatorium of Music is using the series to promote its new degree programs, but as Jake Stone tells TIO in the Q&A below, the goal is to help those starting to work in music to “get up the ladder a bit more quickly.”

Why has the Sydney Conservatorium of Music placed such a fresh onus on contemporary music with this series?

The SCM has four new degree programs starting next year, in Contemporary Music, Creative Music, Digital Music and Media, and Improvisation. We are really proud that we are engaging in the music of today in this way, and wanted to show young musicians some of the pathways they can take if they do degrees like these.

Tell me about the speaker booking process, as an artist yourself you must have been able to call in a few favours, right?

Paying everyone a reasonable amount to turn up, and making it as easy as possible for them helps. But I have to say, it’s incredibly useful to have worked with and known all of these artists, and to have forged friendships with them outside of this role.

How much of your own experience as an artist informed the three topics to be covered?

Lots and lots. Without the headache and triumph of 13 years of music industry work, I’d never even know what to ask these people. As it is, I respect their skill set for what it is – high level abilities that the average person can only dream of refining.

I think being in a room with those kinds of people is like sitting at a table with a group of elite athletes, and I really value the opportunity to get inside their heads and find out what makes truly amazing musicians tick. Also, I remember what it was like to start, and have to join ALL the dots myself.

I think if it’s possible for these seminars to make it easier for people who are starting to work in music to get up the ladder a bit more quickly, then that’s great!

The ‘Building A Team’ panel features two panellists from media publications. How necessary do you think media is in growing an artist’s career?

Music is not just about playing an instrument or writing a song. More than ever, the world needs musicians who are as fully engaged in the community as they can be. The Sydney Conservatorium is really up with the need to train the musicians of the future beyond the music itself – and media is obviously really important.

Given your career as a musician and an industry figure, and having spoken on many panels yourself, you’re the perfect candidate to create an event such as this. What makes a successful music industry conference?

Thanks for saying so! I think that, for a conference to offer something useful, it need only be relevant, up-to-date information provided by working artists at the peak of their creative powers.
I believe my job as host is to frame the audience’s questions and concerns for them, and allow the panelists to answer. I should be talking as little as possible.

Honestly, I’m just excited to talk to some of my favourite contemporary musicians, artists and industry insiders, live on stage.

Do you think this seminar series will meet your above expectations?

Yeah, because my expectations are pretty simple. I just want to have honest conversations about the experiences and tribulations our famous artists and panelists have gone through.
As long as they are honest and open, we can’t go wrong.

If our industry readers only have time to attend one panel, which one would you suggest they go to?

I think that’s really hard for me to answer. I can’t pick just one, and that’s why I’ve divided them up.
The first panel on Aug 26th is a must for player who want to work in big touring bands.

The digital panel ‘Computer Love’ on Sept 8th will have a very broad range of panelists, and will cover a lot of ground for working artists from a creative perspective.

The last one on Oct 27th is definitively a industry panel, and so contemporary artists and pop musicians will definitely want to be in a room with all that heavyweight industry talent there.

Even just meeting those people is worth the free admission, and they’re always scouting for talent too!

The seminar series will be held at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music: 26 August (The University of Sydney’s Open Day), 8 September and 27 October.

Details below:

Open Day 26 August (1pm-3pm) – The Big Leap

How does a classically-trained musician make an impact playing in the pop and alternative radio world? A panel of experienced session musicians and bandleaders will explain.

– Jenny McCallagh (I Know Leopard)

– Dave Symes (Boy & Bear)

 – Sarah Belkner (Ngaiire, Sarah Blasko, Olympia)

– Luke Dubber (Hermitude)

8 September (6-8pm) – Computer Love

Do you like using software and digital hardware to create out-of-this-world music and sounds, but don’t know how to find a professional outlet for your talent? A panel of artists will immerse you in the digital world – from television and film score, to performance art, festival-stage hip hop, and the dark and sweaty world of nightclub culture.

– Kevin Pon Cho (Thundamentals)

– Boris Baghattini/Victoria Hunt/James Brown – Tangi Wai

– Richard Pike (PVT)

– Tim Commandeur (Operator Please, Pnau, Tkay Maidza, Commandeur)

27 October (6pm-8pm) – Building A Team

Featuring a panel of representatives from the cream of Australian management, booking, online media and radio talent, find out the key ingredients to a musician’s success. Learn industry secrets that will put you ahead of the pack.

– Veronica & Lewis (Triple J)

– Todd Wagstaff (Parker & Mr French)

– Alistair Green (MAKER Agency)

– Lucy Smith (FBi Radio)

– Katie Rynne (Select Music)

– Larry Heath (The AU Review)

– Radi Safi (Hhhhappy.com)