CARLSBAD — Radio industry insiders packed the 14th annual Sunset Sessions conference in Carlsbad on Feb. 17, kicking off a three-day conference that featured discussion panels, live performances and listening parties.
Professionals flew in from around the country for the annual music-filled event, which was held at Carlsbad’s La Costa Resort and Spa, 2100 Costa del Mar Road. More than 800 people attended the event that included performances by 45 musical acts.
“The purpose of Sunset Sessions is to expose new artists by giving them a place to be heard by radio stations and music supervisors,” event founder Michele Clark said. “Everyone invited is committed to hear out these bands and at least give them a chance.”
Many unsigned artists performed at this year’s event, including Jason Spooner; Parker Ainsworth; the Alternate Routes; and Chris Amodeo.
“It’s all about the new artists, but I always like to bring in a couple of favorites and known artists,” Clark said. “We actually got Stevie Nicks to play with Vanessa Carlton Saturday night; that was quite a surprise.”
Record labels like Warner Bros. Records and Ninth Street Opus also sponsored Late Night Lounge events, highlighting established and upcoming talent on their rosters.
Warner Bros.’ Ximena Sariñana impressed the audience with tracks off her first English language album, while Iron & Wine received crowd requests to perform his older work.
“I remember what it was like the first time I heard Iron & Wine’s ‘Lion’s Mane’ and I love having a job where I can share that same feeling with other people,” Tim Johnston of Boise, Idaho’s KRVB station said before Iron & Wine’s performance.
Other events included a screening of movie “May I Be Frank”; an album preview and interview session with Stevie Nicks; a panel to review up-and-coming radio singles; and an interactive discussion exploring how music supervisors select songs for film and television.
Clark first launched Sunset Sessions based on her experience with independent radio promotions. “I thought if I can get these bands to play in front of these radio stations and music supervisors, it will help them understand what these bands are all about,” she said.
Sunset Sessions has significantly grown since Clark’s first event, which featured nine bands and was attended by 90 people. For the first time, she is also hosting a summer installment that will feature alternative rock this June, also at La Costa Resort and Spa.
“Literally, we’re working right up until the last minute and it makes me crazy,” she said. “It’s a lot of work but ultimately, it’s extremely gratifying.”
For more information about Michele Clark’s annual Sunset Sessions event, visit www.sunsetsessions.org.