If you wanted to speak with a music industry professional who has experience promoting major rock artists, being an A&R (Artists and Repertoire) record company executive and publishing manager, and who is preparing a new upstate New York music festival for rock and alternative music, would you expect to find that expert in New York City? Absolutely.
Would you expect to find that person in Nashville? Quite possibly.
Could that person be one of our neighbors in Otsego County?
It may surprise you to find that the answer to that question is “Yes.”
Bernard Walters is not the flamboyant showbiz type you might expect to meet when you consider the remarkable career he has created.
Instead, he is a quiet but very effective music industry professional making a good living in a business he loves.
His company, Indian Ledge Music Group, is headquartered near Albany, and he commutes there frequently to oversee the many music projects for which he is responsible.
Indian Ledge Music Group manages musicians’ careers by helping them develop their musical skills and their audiences. Indian Ledge has accepted a very diverse group of musicians whose styles range from indie rock bands to yoga artists.
He said he believes in giving bands time to grow while also giving them guidance about next steps in their careers.
This level of attention to artists is rare in the music business today.
I asked Bernie what advice he has for musicians in the Otsego and Delaware county area and his response was clear and encouraging.
He said, “Young musicians can make a living. Just get out there and play every place you can. Play every concert and festival. Take merchandise like T-shirts and CDs with you, but make sure your CDs are of very good quality. When I’m considering signing a new band, I look for great songs. It all starts with a great song, a great vocalist, a distinctive voice, different from anything else out there.
“When you play a show, get email addresses from people in the audience,” he added. “Build your fan base and make sure you continue to give them your attention. Do all the things you know you have to do, and then do them again.”
I asked, “What projects are you doing now that will interest musicians and audiences in our area?”
He said, “This is the first year of a festival I’ll be holding in Albany. It’s called the Move Music Festival and we’ve already received press packets for 600 bands who want to perform.
“It’s a one-day festival that will be kicked off on Saturday, April 21, with a trade show, including presentations, merchandise vendors, managers and recording studios who will give information to musicians about the music business.
“We’re approaching vendors to ask them how to present musicians. On Saturday afternoon, we’ll do showcases of 90 to 100 bands in 10 different venues on Pearl St. in Albany. The festival will go into the night with some of the bigger acts performing at larger venues.”
He pointed readers to the website www.movemusicfest.com to find out more about the festival.
I said, “That sounds great. How much will it cost?”
Bernie said, “We want to make the trade show and the bands available to everyone, so admission is only about $15 for an armband that will get you into everything. Less expensive tickets will be available if you only want to go to one club. We’ve had very good reaction to the Move Festival. Several people have already volunteered to work on the street team and to help out at the concerts.”
If you’d like to know more about Bernie Walters Move Festival, email him at Bernie.Walters@IndianLedgeMusicGroup.com.
DR. JANET NEPKIE is a member of the music industry faculty in the music department of the State University College at Oneonta. Her columns can be found at www.thedailystar.com/musicbeat.