Pittsburgh has seen a few locally trained musicians break through nationally in recent decades, including hip-hop stars Wiz Khalifa and the late Mac Miller. But such success stories are remarkable because they are so rare – and because they often involve artists leaving town to get there.
Changing that dynamic is the goal of the all-new Music of Pittsburgh convention. Organizers said they want musicians of all genres to be able to thrive without leaving. The day and evening event at The Forge Urban Winery in Homestead includes live performances as well as workshops, panel discussions and more on aspects of the business including songwriting , online marketing, internet radio, and even video game music.
Singer-songwriter Jessica Bella created the convention with her husband and manager, Ian Robertson. They call it MOPCON, and they say it’s open to all styles of music. Robertson said one of the issues is getting musicians to venture outside of such silos as genre and to share information and resources.
“It’s really about bringing all the musicians together and trying to create a community, a learning environment, a sharing environment, that kind of stuff,” Robertson said.
“The idea is that you have a lot of great artists here in Pittsburgh, but it’s a tough place to make a living,” said Tony Mator, an electronic music composer and performer who helps organize the convention. “We kind of wanted to create a space where local musicians can grow, not just to be great musicians, but to be successful musicians. We don’t want people from Pittsburgh to have to travel to Nashville to be successful. »
Robertson and Bella have experience hosting music events, including Pleasant Fest, which combines indie music and indie films made in the Pittsburgh area. Many events take place at Forge Urban Winery, which includes a fully equipped stage and video projection capabilities.
MOPCON, as the organizers are calling the new event, features speakers including singer-songwriter Megan Pennington on DIY internet radio, and game developer Ryan Lee Eicheldinger on video game music. George Fadale of the Dreamz of Music Foundation organizes contests for participants to show off their dance, guitar, drum or rap skills.
Most live music is scheduled after 4 p.m. Acts include Bella and her band, Devin Russian, Abby Morgan, Colin and the Crows, Chip and the ChargeUps, Royce, No Sleep for Zombies, Day Shift, Pop Baby and Mator who plays Maximus Monk.
MOPCON is expected to last all night, with Maximus Monk’s set set to start at 3am.
MOPCON is a paid event. More information here.