New Music Seminar, the granddaddy of American music conferences, returns to New York, June 17-20. In addition to a number of daytime panels, workshops, intensives and keynotes at Manhattan’s Webster Hall, an accompanying NMS New York Music Festival will feature four nights of performances in 17 New York City venues. These include three nights of acoustic music showcases at The Living Room, hosted by Folk Alliance International.

In 2009, seeking to empower and inform developing artists whom he felt have been disenfranchised and disheartened by the state of the music industry and were desperate for change, Thomas Silverman, owner of Tommy Boy Entertainment, revived the New Music Seminars that he co-founded more than 30 years ago. The influential music business gatherings, which initially ran from 1980-1995, helped to spawn other major music conferences and festivals like South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas.

However, for the first three years since it resurrection, the New Music Seminar has been solely a music business conference designed to help artists, agents, label executive and promoters network, discuss and discover new ways to make money as album sales continue to fall. Although that still remains a focus of the New Music Seminar — which touts itself as “the meeting place of music visionaries, upstarts and disruptors, and where the old rules are broken and new ideas will hatch into a vital new music business”–, Silverman and his partners have added live music to the mix this year in much the same way as New Music Nights were part of the seminar in the 1980s.

“A lot of us on the industry side are just grateful to have a summer gathering in New York again,” said Louis Meyers, executive director of Folk Alliance International and a co-founder of SXSW, noting that he looks forward to reconnecting with folks there. The New Music Seminar “had such a positive impact on the industry the first time around. It was the place where you went to discover music talent and make business connections. This is the first year of trying to reclaim what it was.”

Louis Meyers walking in Memphis

“For me, it’s full circle,” Meyers continued. “We created South by Southwest 25 years ago based on our experiences at New Music Seminar. In the old NMS era, the city of Austin hosted music showcases all the time. We were producing acoustic music showcases at NMS before there was a SXSW.” Meyers hailed Silverman for “trying to help artists and labels monetize whatever is going to happen next and get the overall music business healthy again” and for assembling what he called “a phenomenal lineup of panelists,” noting that “It’s basically a who’s who of the music industry.”

From the perspective of Folk Alliance, an association that seeks to foster and promote contemporary, multicultural and traditional folk music, dance and related performing arts in North America, Meyers views NMS as “our connection to the popular music industry. It enables us to connect with some of these major players.” Noting that the New Music Seminar attracts some in the upper end of the commercial music world, as it did 30 years ago, Meyers said,: “It enables us to connect with some of these major players. If we can have the same impact with NMS as SXSW had, we can help those artists who want to take their shot in the commercial world, those who want a chance at the brass ring, climb the ladder a lot quicker”

The Stray Birds

“I’m totally excited to have three nights to wave our flag in New York,” said Meyers. “The goal is to provide the stage to artists who are ready to be exposed to the big picture, and, fortunately, we have a lot of them. I’m impressed by the range of talent, and its certainly a lot of acts that are getting exposure” — ranging from young artists like The Stray Birds and John Fulbright to veterans like Garland Jeffries and Rosie Flores.

Meyers and partners from NMS and The Living Room selected the showcasing artists from among some 130 who requested the opportunity to perform following an open call to all the artists who performed in official showcases at International Folk Alliance Conferences in Memphis over the past three years.

The artist showcases at The Living Room in Manhattan listed below are open to the public. There is a suggested donation of $10 each evening for those who are not conference registrants.. Preceding the showcases at 6 p.m. will be website demolition derbies presented by Bandzoogle, during which panelists will do live reviews of audience members’ websites and advise them on their online presence. The Living Room is at 154 Ludlow Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side.

2012 Folk Alliance New Music Seminar Showcase Schedule

Monday, June 18
7:00 PM Ali Isabella (Bronxville, NY)
7:30 PM John Flynn (Brandywine, DE)
8:00 PM Sam Doores (New Orleans, LA)
8:30 PM Nels Andrews (Brooklyn, NY)
9:00 PM Ariana Gillis (Vineland, ON Canada)
9:30 PM Eric Brace & Peter Cooper (Nashville, TN)
10:00 PM Mare Winningham (Los Angeles, CA)
10:30 PM David Olney w/Sergio Webb (Nashville, TN)
11:00 PM Ana Egge (Brooklyn, NY)
11:30 PM John Fullbright (Oklahoma City, OK)
12:00 AM Garland Jeffreys (New York City, NY)

Tuesday, June 19
7:00 PM The Stray Birds (Lancaster, PA)
8:00 PM Joel Rafael (Escondido, CA)
8:30 PM Deering & Down (Memphis, TN)
9:15 PM Brother Sun (New York City, NY)
10:00 PM Ellis (Minneapolis, MN)
10:30 PM Michael Fracasso (Austin, TX)
11:00 PM Tracy Grammer (Greenfield, MA)
11:30 PM Chuck Mead (Nashville, TN)

Wednesday, June 20
7:00 PM Sam Weiser (Golf Coast, CT)
7:30 PM A.J. Roach (Brooklyn, NY)
8:00 PM Tumbling Bones (Brooklyn, NY)
8:30 PM Grace Pettis (Austin, TX)
9:00 PM Valerie June (Memphis, TN)
9:30 PM Lara Herscovitch (Durham, CT)
10:00 PM Julie Christensen (Ojai, CA)
10:30 PM Tim Easton (Nashville, TN)
11:15 PM Rosie Flores (Austin, TX)

For more information on the New Music Seminar, including a complete schedule, visit More information on Folk Alliance International may be found at