Greg Seltzer, founder of the Philly Music Fest and Tech Tour events that are returning to the city next month, saw a lot of crossover in the startup and music scenes in Philadelphia.
While speaking to organizers of Amplify Philly at SXSW, Seltzer saw that other cities with strong startup scenes like Boston, Chicago and Nashville also have this overlap when it came to their music scenes.
“These communities have really strong startup and tech scenes, they also have very strong music scene,” he said. “I was digging into some metrics and came up with a few variables but saw that the workforce of tech and startup is populated with a lot of people that are in bands, who are in music.”
Seltzer, who is an attorney and partner at Ballard Spahr LLP, represents players in Philly tech. He said he’d been dreaming of a way to support music education the city when he started the Philadelphia Music & Arts Festival, a nonprofit, in 2017. Local bands play at independent venues around the city, and proceeds of the events are donated to local children’s music nonprofits; in past years, that’s included Settlement Music School, Rock to the Future, Musicopia, Live Connections and Play On, Philly!
The first year, the festival raised $15,000. In 2018, it raised $25,000. Seltzer said he’s hoping to top that next month when the festival returns Sept. 25 to 28 at venues across the city.
A concurrent event that Seltzer piloted last year, called Tech Tour — where folks at the intersection of music and tech in Philly come together to talk entrepreneurship, business and technology — will also return this year with some changes.
Last year, during its “beta” phase, folks attended the panels in three difference spaces around the city — hence, the “tour” part of the Tech Tours.
“The idea is, we bring bands into the homes of technology companies and put both communities together and see what happens,” Seltzer said.
This year’s Tech Tour will discuss the intersection of tech and startups, with panels and performances focusing on issues like branding, diversity, launching new products and cultivating innovation.
But this year, Seltzer said, the organization is hosting the afternoon of music and discussion all in one place: at Guru’s HQ in the North American Building. The aim is to bring people together in one space and maximize the amount of money the nonprofit will be able to donate to local music organizations. Plus, of course, it’s logistically simpler.
The panels offered during the Tech Tour are “Benefit & Challenges of Workforce Automation,” “Operating in the New Gig Economy” and “Being Music — A Diversity & Inclusion Interactive Workshop.”
Panelists include Jagath Wanninayake of Suvoda; Rick Nucci of Guru; Alex Hillman of IndyHall; Tracey Welson-Rossman of TechGirlz and Chariot Solutions (and a WXPN policy board member); Cliff Jurkiewicz of Phenom People; Shaina Hicks of Ballard Spahr and local musician Andrew Lipke. Local acts will perform between panels.
Nucci, Guru’s CEO (and an avid concert goer who named his company’s conference rooms after Philly venues), said the team is excited to host the event.
“Music is a big part of our culture here at Guru,” he said. “We have loved partnering with Philly Music Fest from the beginning, and love being able to host this really fascinating intersection between tech and music.”
The Tech Tour will take place on Sept. 27 from noon to 5 p.m. amid the four-day stretch of Philly Music Fest. The festival kicks off at Milkboy on Sept. 25, then continues at Johnny Brenda’s on Sept. 26 and at World Cafe Live on Sept. 27 and 28. Admission to those events vary, but the Tech Tour is free to attend.
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