Building the Music Capital Conference

Georgetown University, the Music Policy Forum and Listen Local First DC are excited to announce Building the Music Capital, a one day free conference  taking place on Saturday, October 29, 2016 at Georgetown University’s Edward B. Bunn S.J. Intercultural Center.

Like many cities, Washington, DC is in the midst of significant change and transformation, providing both opportunities and challenges for our local music community. Building the Music Capital is a one-day conference that will address these issues head on through a series of presentations, interviews and panel discussions with leading figures engaged in the city’s musical future. At the conference, performers, educators, cultural advocates, entrepreneurs and policymakers will share their perspectives on how the DC music scene stacks up, and what steps can be taken to develop and enact strategies, policies and businesses that will enhance and support the capital’s critical music infrastructure.

“Across the globe the public and philanthropic sectors are rethinking how policies, programs and strategies can support healthy, sustainable music ecosystems in their communities. We are excited to bring this global conversation specifically to the District of Columbia” said Music Policy Forum founder Michael Bracy.

“Georgetown University is committed to being a thoughtful member of the greater DC community, and as our music program has grown over the years, we’ve become all the more dedicated to assisting in the development of an arts infrastructure that will serve the public for generations to come.  That’s why we’re hosting This conference. We’re excited about bringing the voices of everyone into the conversation.” said Anna Harwell Celenza, T.E. Caestecker Professor of Music, Georgetown University.

Attendees RSVP for the conference here. For regular updates on programming and additional confirmed speakers please check out the conference’s Facebook event page.

10:00 WELCOME  

Anna Celenza (Georgetown University) and Shorty Corleone (Go-Go Musician and composer) 

10:15-10:30 Opening  Statements — The Current State of Music in DC

  • Councilmember David Grosso –  (At-large Councilmember District of Columbia)
  • Maryann Lombardi – (Chief Creative Economy Officer, DC Office of Cable Television Film Music and Entertainment)

10:30-11:45 Why Reinvent the Wheel?  Perspectives from Outside Washington, DC

Policymaking and planning does not exist in a vacuum.  Across the globe, governments, nonprofits and industry groups have spent decades establishing policies, programs and organizations that can help inform the Washington DC community’s efforts to think about sustainable music ecosystems.  What innovations could be applied here?  How are governments embracing their potential role in support of music?  And what can happen when a city declines to engage?  Experts from throughout North America will inspire and challenge the DC community by sharing their personal experiences and perspectives on how this work can be accomplished.

Moderator:  Michael Bracy (The Music Policy Forum)


  • Ashlye Keaton, Esq. (Co-Founder/Supervising Attorney for the Entertainment Law Legal Assistance Project (ELLA), New Orleans, LA)
  • Jesse Elliott  (Director, The Music District, Fort Collins, CO)
  • Ben London, (Board Member, Music Commission, Seattle, WA)
  • Amy Terrill, (Executive Vice President, Music Canada, Toronto, CA)
  • Katie Longmyer, (Co-Founder Brooklyn Electronic Music Festival, New York, NY) 

11:45-12:00 DC Musical Artist Spotlight: DJ 2-Tone Jones (Shaolin Jazz Project)

12:00-12:45 LUNCH

(Provided free of charge to all those who register by Oct. 25)

12:45-1:35 DC Music and Cultural Identity: What are we Fighting For?

The District of Columbia has a rich and varied musical heritage combined with a remarkably diverse ecosystem of artists, entrepreneurs and cultural activists working in a variety of genres.  In  a time of tremendous change spurred by the communications revolution,explosive population growth and economic how do we define Washington’s musical and cultural identity?  What are the characteristics and qualities that we want policymakers to protect and enhance?

Moderator: Marcus K.Dowling (Freelance Journalist – One Love Massive, Bandcamp, Pitchfork, etc.)


  • Maurice Jackson (Professor Depts of History, African American Music and Music (Jazz), Georgetown University)
  • Nico Hobson (President and Founder of GoGoRadio LIVE)
  • Aaron Myers (Organizer, DC Jazz Lobby)
  • Mazi Mutafa (Executive Director, Words Beats & Life)
  • Margaret Gilmore (DC Punk Archive)
  • Maggie Cannon (Director of Marketing, 9:30 Club & IMP Presents)

1:35 – 1:50pm DC Musical Artist Spotlight: Malik Stewart (Malik DOPE Drummer)

1:50-2:35pm Institutions and Infrastructure:  Creating a Supportive Environment for the Arts

Any thriving cultural ecosystem relies on factors beyond their control – namely the public institutions and infrastructure that impacts all citizens.  From housing and transportation to education and public safety, our public sector is responsible for all factors that make a community healthy and sustainable. These institutions also play a role the cultural ecosystem as promoters, educators and connectors.  How can we think about the intersection of music and infrastructure?  How can and should the District think about how infrastructure lines up with music?

Moderator: Chris Bulbulia (Events/ Strategic Partnerships, DC Music Download + Director of Development, Marketing and Production, Congressional Chorus)


  • Asheru (Guerilla Arts Ink + DC Achievers)
  • Miles Gray (Owner, Smith Public Trust + Organizer WeDC SXSW)
  • Dior Brown (Emcee. Actor. Poet. Host + Organizer, Mousai House + Co-Organizer, DC Music Summit)
  • Anna Celenza ( Thomas E. Caestecker Professor of Music, Georgetown University)
  • Diana Ezerins (Artistic Programming Manager, John F. Kennedy Center)

2:35 – 2:50- DC Musical Artist Spotlight: Queen Beez (Living Classrooms Foundation)

2:50 – 3:35  Building a New Music Industry

The evolving music community is led by  a new generation of entrepreneurs and organizers who are reinventing the industry on the fly. What is happening in DC that is new and unique?  What kind of emerging models are making it possible for musicians to get paid?  How does local music fit into that equation?  And what kind of support from the DC government is necessary to help these businesses thrive and grow?

Moderator: Aerica Banks (Diversity Markets Partner Liaison, Google + Co Founder, DC Music Summit)


  • Yudu Gray (Owner House Studios)
  • Fitz Holladay (Director, SoFar Sounds + WeGo Concerts)
  • Ally Schweitzer (Arts and Culture Reporter, WAMU)
  • Rev. Sandra Butler-Truesdale ( Founder, DC Legendary Musicians)
  • Julianne Brienza (Chief Executive Officer, Capital Fringe)

3:35 – 4:10  The Festival Age 

One of the most distinct trends in the music community is the rise of the festival.  Fans are increasingly turning to curated experiences as their preferred method of experiencing music and many artists are seeing festivals as a great way to connect with new audiences and receive good pay. At the same time, city officials across the globe recognize the significant economic impact of festivals and are pushing hard on cultural tourism strategies.  The festival world is quickly evolving and we are yet to see the limits of the market.  Local organizers and instigators will reflect on their experiences and explore where they fit into ongoing planning processes.


  • Justin Rood (Co-Founder, Funk Parade)
  • Will Suter (Founder, All Things Go)
  • Molly Ruland (Founder, One Love Massive)
  • Marcus Allen (Founder, Broccoli City Festival)

4:10 – 5:00  Plugging into the Planning

We close with the questions on everyone’s mind:  What’s next?  What are the city officials going to be focusing on?  How do discussions with the local music community continue?  What does the local music community want to know?  DC government officials will go into detail on their planning processes with a particular focus on how members of the music community can engage with these processes in a way that is productive and constructive.

Moderator: Kevin Erickson (record producer, Swim-Two Birds studio; National Organizing Director, Future of Music Coalition)


  • Arthur Espinoza (Executive Director, DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities)
  • Angie Gates (Director, Office of Cable Television Film Music and Entertainment)
  • Ron Dixon (Founder, Studio 202 + Co Chair, Arts Action DC)
  • Nathan Diamond  (Director, Arts Office of Teaching & Learning, DC Public Schools)
  • Sakina Khan – (Deputy Director of Citywide Strategy and Analysis, DC Office of Planning)

​Read the press release.