This year, for the first time, the sold-out Americana Music Honors & Awards program aired live nationally on AXS TV, broadcast via SiriusXM, WSM radio, and streamed by NPR.org. Musical segments of the Americana Honors & Awards show will appear on PBS nationwide during a special presentation: “ACL Presents: Americana Music Festival 2012″ beginning November 10 in the Austin City Limits time slot, and international radio broadcasts via BBC2 and Voice of America will commence next week.
Fueled by musical legends Bonnie Raitt, Booker T. Jones and Richard Thompson, the next generation of stars including Alabama Shakes, Punch Brothers and John Fullbright, along with music industry heavyweights, the 2012 Americana Music Festival and Conference, presented by Nissan, saw over 15,000 fans, 300 performing artists and more than 1,100 music industry professionals, all of whom participated in the unparalleled five day celebration of American Roots inspired music.
“I have never been more optimistic about the future in my 20 years in the music industry,” said Jed Hilly, Executive Director of the Americana Music Association, “The passion for this music and the community spirit we experienced last week was mind blowing.”
Attendance for each aspect of the multi-day event continues to soar. The conference portion of this year’s event, where industry professionals and artists gathered for a series of educational workshops and seminars saw an 8% gain over last year peaking at 1,196 attendees. Registration for the conference has now increased by a staggering 40% since 2010. Stimulated by the rising popularity of Americana Music, membership to the fledgling not-for-profit has increased by 18% in the last year and 37% since 2010 to now include 1,634 among their ranks.
The Americana Music Festival and Conference (Americanafest) featured approximately 175 unique panels, workshops and musical performances over the 5-day period. The event expanded its outreach into the Nashville community partnering with the Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum, the Downtown Presbyterian Church, the Hard Rock Cafe, Grimey’s New & Preloved Music, Second Fiddle and Nashville Crossroads.
The daytime conference, located primarily at the Sheraton Nashville Downtown Hotel, hosted an estimated 200 speakers from all disciplines of the music business. Highlights of this year’s event included the Artist Keynote Address from legendary Raitt, an interview with Jones and a songwriter session with Thompson. Stacked panel discussions featured a Music Business Keynote from Topspin CEO Ian Rogers; “100 Years of Woody Guthrie” moderated by Grammy Museum CEO Bob Santelli with Guy Clark and Rodney Crowell; and “The Music of Memphis” featuring producers Rick Clark and John Hampton, musicians Jody Stephens (Big Star) and Scott Bomar (Bo-Keys) and author Robert Gordon – who contributed to the discussion on why Memphis is still making a difference, reflecting authenticity and sense of place.
The festival portion of the annual event showcased over 100 of Americana’s finest acts, including a diverse mix of both legends and the next generation of stars. This year’s festival added new venues including the High Watt as well as a partnership with Live on the Green, drawing an estimated 8,000 fans and music industry professionals to experience a free concert by the Wallflowers, with special guests Delta Spirit and the Dunwells on Legislative Plaza – and Americana curated a lineup with Sam Bush headlining at Musicians Corner in Centennial Park.
Following the enormous success of Americanafest 2012, the Association will conduct its annual Board of Directors elections for membership and will focus on increasing its already broad appeal nationally and internationally in 2013.