Music Biz President Jim Donio Previews Annual Meeting With Move From LA to Nashville

With the Music Business Association's annual Music Biz meeting coming up May 12-14, it marks a shift. For the first time, the event formerly known as NARM is moving to Nashville and with that new scenery comes new programming. 

Billboard caught up with the trade association's president Jim Donio to catch up on what the convention will have to offer this year. 

How is this move to Nashville working out?

It's the first time it will be held there in our history. The change from holding it in Nashville from Los Angeles has met with great enthusiasm. It wasn't just about moving the convention somewhere else, but to move it to a place we have never been before. We have gotten great support from the membership and from the Nashville music industry. Our hotel [Sheraton Downtown Nashville] is sold out. Attendance will be up from last year.

Also in years past we had strong attendance from the academic community, something that we haven't had in the last few years because of a scheduling conflict. But this year that conflict doesn't exist, so there will be stronger attendance by them. The young people are the future of the business and our meeting gives them the opportunity to learn and network. 

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What have you got planned for the convention?

We will have over 125 speakers and organized the program a little differently this time out. We also took advantage of the new location to have [genre] meet-ups for country, Americana, gospel and Christian. We are doing more with artist managers and have sessions for songwriters and publishers. We even have a touring and ticketing component that we haven't had before.

Will some of the core programming be returning?

Yes. We will have a law conference, our start-up academy and metadata summit. The latter is something that we have become known for, bringing together that sector of the industry is unique. [WMG executive vp, technology & business processes] Mike Jabara, a longtime supporter of our association, will give the keynote for that segment.

We will also have metrics programming on research and sales analysis, looking at the streaming model. We will look at how Spotify and Youtube handle music publishing. Also, on the publishing side, Jacqueline Charlesworth, general counsel & associate register of copyright for the U.S. Copyright Office, will talk about proposed legislation like the Songwriters Equity Act and the industry's intentions to update copyright.

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What about the physical side of the music business, do you have any programming for that? 

We will have the Record Store Day event on Thursday morning, where they will be reviewing this year's event and brainstorming for next year.

Will there be any sessions centering on the upcoming change of street date to Friday, which is one of the most important issues facing the sales, distribution and retail side of the business? 

We expect that to be addressed in the private one-on-one meetings that take place during the convention. Plans are well underway for making the transition and we continue to act as a conduit to help that process along.

So far it sounds like there will be a lot of work. Aren't we going to have any fun at the convention?

First off since we are in Nashville we are arranging for people to go on tours of United Record Pressing, which will be fun. I got that tour during our planning visit and I had never seen how vinyl gets made. It was very eye opening.

We are also working with the three majors, Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group and Warner Music Group, as well as Redeye to provide entertainment. Youtube will sponsor Live at the Wildhorse Saloon on Wednesday night. On Tuesday, we will have a Third Man Records Event and the Universal Music Group will do a showcase at the hotel later that night. Warner is hosting the opening reception on Tuesday and Sony is sponsoring the Awards function on Thursday.

Who's getting awards?

We will be honoring Waterloo owner John Kunz with the Independent Spirit Award, while we will present Scott Borchetta the Presidential Award for Sustained Executive Achievement and Martina MacBride will be honored with the Harry Chapin Memorial Award. And finally Meghan Trainor will be named Breakthrough Artist, while the Doobie Brothers will get the Chairman's Award for Sustained Executive Achievement