"Making it" in the music industry is becoming more and more of a nebulous concept; the salad days of big record contracts and re-enacting Poison videos with your advance are long gone. To make a living off your music requires an increasingly complex knowledge of marketing, promotion, licensing, DIY tactics, branding – and, um, good music.
To that end, this year's Florida Music Festival is focusing in on independent ethics, with a keynote by Warped Tour founder Kevin Lyman – love or hate it, the fest's roots are firmly in the indie-punk ethos of Epitaph Records – and a big push of hotly tipped locals Sales. Besides Lyman's keynote there will also be a number of panels and presentations on the current state of the music business.
The main focus, however, is always on the music. Over a long weekend, spread out over 10 stages downtown, over 150 local bands of all genre will strut their stuff at free showcase events. Local college radio station WPRK will curate a stage, along with promoter/Solillaquists of Sound MC Swamburger. And once again, Orlando Weekly's TLU columnist Bao-Le Huu will be curating a stage at the Social on the Thursday night.
Le-Huu's handpicked lineup for this year is even more far-reaching and catholic than last year's. Kicking off with the torchy, skeletal melancholia of Zoya Zafar, there's also the muscular and wild-eyed garage punk of the Welzeins, Saskatchewan's warm, melodic dream-haze, the future-forward 8-bit madness of Polykarp, and, as mentioned above, a headline set from local duo Sales, freshly signed to Sub Pop Publishing and basking in that moment of anticipation before they break through to that ever-elusive next level.
Le-Huu explains the method to his madness thusly: "I look to present good, interesting local acts that people should know about. ... This year, the FMF organizers said they wanted to tell the story of homegrown music, so they went far out of their way to help me land Sales as the special headliner. With their progress, momentum and trajectory, they're the best band I could think of to tell that story right now." See the story of Orlando music being written and rewritten all weekend at Florida Music Festival.