Only the best will do

MAD Music Conference and Festival aims to expose Israel’s most qualified independent musicians to experts in the business world.

Yifat Goran (photo credit: Alon Klinger)
Yifat Goran
(photo credit: Alon Klinger)
The lights are dim, the crowds engaged. Sweet melodies bellow from the artists’ mouths; some sound more gruff, others serene. The applause is enthusiastic and smiles are shared. Israeli indie artists are finally gaining recognition. Globes MAD Music Festival has made its mark.
Last Wednesday, Globes hosted its second annual MAD Music Conference and Festival in Tel Aviv. MAD, an acronym for marketing, advertising and digital, is a daylong event that aims to expose Israel’s most qualified independent musicians to experts in the business world as well as integrate these musicians into the worlds of marketing, advertising, and new media.
“The music sector is one of the most undervalued sectors of the creative industry,” said Jeremy Hulsh, a representative of Oleh! Records, during one of the conference’s panel discussions.
To solve this problem, Globes created a platform that will spark dialogue, create networking opportunities, and teach valuable lessons for both musicians and advertisers alike.
“It makes you think about what you are doing and why you do it,” said Hannah Schwartz, a conference attendee.
The conference, held at the David Intercontinental Hotel in Tel Aviv, featured speeches and panels that touched upon issues and topics related to marketing and branding. The purpose of these discussions was to teach the artists how to stand out because ultimately the music industry is not solely about music; the artists need to be noticed.
As Issar Tennenbaum, the artistic director of the festival, said, it is all a game and the musicians need to learn how to play.
Following the conference, the MAD Music Festival placed musicians in ten bars throughout Tel Aviv to showcase their music to the public. The festival lasted five hours and showcased 50 bands representing multiple genres such as punk, electro-pop, and folk rock. The 50 bands that played were chosen from a lot of 350 who applied. In addition to a spot in the festival, the artists will also receive a grant of NIS 500 for digital advertising and a promotion by Globes worth 25,000NIS.
The festival aspect of MAD Music was inspired by festivals in the United States such as South by Southwest in Austin, TX and CMJ Music Marathon in New York, NY. Tennenbaum and the rest of the MAD Music team wanted to create an atmosphere where people could rock out and enjoy music. In the States, he saw people in bars and on street corners getting their music out, and wanted that same opportunity for Israeli musicians.
As a result of that desire, Tennenbaum and the other crew members scouted out bars in Tel Aviv that could be potential venues for live music showings. Some of the venues he chose had never before housed live shows. Tennenbaum admits that at first some bar owners were skeptical, but he told them to leave the work to him; he would make it happen.
During the festival, each bar had different bands playing with each set lasting up to an hour. What was great about this festival was that it exposed everyday citizens to new music, thus enabling these musicians to expand their fan base.
“If not for this, I don’t think I would be exposed to these people otherwise,” said Sharon Lifshitz, a teenager who attended the festival with some friends. “It’s great to know new bands and new singers that you didn’t know before.”
In addition to gaining new fans, the bands also had the opportunity to gain new advancements in their careers. Thirteen delegates from the United States and European music industries were invited to the conference and festival in order to seek out new talent and possibly choose artists they want to work with and promote.
According to Tennenbaum, it is about “who gets grabs first of new talent.” Ideally, the organizers of the festival hope the Israeli music industry will snag the artists, but ultimately the musicians can be taken away from Israel to the international market by the foreign delegates. In the end, it is about whatever opportunities are best for these independent musicians.
Along with branding artists, the conference and festival were also meant to show artists that they have opportunities outside of the traditional music scene.
“Music is the core product of everything around it,” Tennenbaum said. He gave the example that music is in advertisements and video games.  Musicians can also work to have their music placed in projects like that.
The musicians chosen to perform were all very grateful for the opportunity given to them and were honored to be chosen for the 350 bands that applied.
“Just the fact that they have a festival that is honoring local artists is so important,” said Adir Cohen, an indie rock singer who performs under the name Adir L.C. “It just feels really good here.”
And that is exactly MAD Music’s goal: to have all Israeli singers say it feels really good to play here.