Northside Fest CEO Scott Stedman: 'Brooklyn Has Become An Adjective For What's Next...'
Northside Fest CEO Scott Stedman: 'Brooklyn Has Become An Adjective For What's Next...'

The fourth edition of Brooklyn's Northside Festival, the independent music, art, film, and now, entrepreneurial confab, kicks off today (June, 14) with over 400 bands (from GZA to Kitty Pryde), 200 artists, 30 venues, 50 films, 1,500 entrepreneurs and an estimated 80,000 attendees -- its biggest yet.

"Our entire company is built around the idea that Brooklyn has become a national adjective for what's next," Northside CEO Scott Stedman told Billboard.biz, "Emerging trends-all aspects of culture, innovation and creation- are coming out of Brooklyn, and over those four years, it has continued to evolve. Brooklyn's impact has become more dramatic."

The festival strives to showcase artists who are new, independent and varied. "People, especially this year, have recognized the diversity of all these acts in reference to what's currently happening in trends and music," Stedman explained, "We have everything from large acts like Of Montreal, to everything that's popular in indie rock to esoteric world music. To do it in Brooklyn is to give consumers a taste of what's different, what's next, what's happening and what to expect."

To help achieve its goal of having a forward-facing fest, Northside enlisted help. "We have about 70 showcase partners and our own internal team to ensure diversity. They come from all different kinds of perspectives-from blogs like Brooklyn Vegan and Stereogum to larger promoters to all kinds of music mavens in the area who are at the forefront of their genres." Northside has brought in such diverse promoters as the Windish Agency, NYC's dance music vets THE Bunker, the Chaos in Tejas fest and retailer Academy Records for music showcases.

This year also includes the first Music Now Summit, created in partnership with AT&T, and features keynotes and panel discussions with music industry leaders and innovators.

"We're working with all kinds of professionals, independent in the music industry, whether they are long time trailblazers like GZA from Wu Tang Clan (who is performing "Liquid Swords" tonight) or new people who are truly innovating like Trevor Silmser, the publisher of Noisey,"

Unique to this year is the addition of the festival's entrepreneurial initiative, a conference dedicated to reinforcing film, art and music culture's interconnectivity with technology. "The incentive is out of necessity," Stedman says. "We've always been aware that it would be cool to have a technology component to our festival, but it never quite fit. There's always been this idea in Silicon Valley: the entrepreneur as the rock star. For the first time ever, entrepreneurs are working and hanging out alongside rock stars. And in Brooklyn, these companies are approaching entrepreneurship in a really unique and exciting way. The industry is being changed by a new crop of innovators. Entrepreneurs have become a crucial part of the Brooklyn creative community."

Just because the festival espouses an independent ethos doesn't mean it hasn't lined-up major corporate sponsorship. Started by L Magazine, this year's supporters includes Northside's founding sponsor Heineken as well as major sponsors Jameson, VitaminWater, AT&T, Bloomberg Business Week and IFC Films. Badges for the fest run from $20 (trade show only) to $250 (VIP) and in between depending on how much of fest you intend to see,

And if you should have any problem deciding what shows to see, Stedman has a word of advice: "There's so much fun stuff happening at Northside. Brooklyn is the most exciting place on earth. Discover something! Even if it isn't something new, just go out there and discover...."

Northside runs through June 21. More information here.

(Additional reporting by Andy Gensler)