The event was a success, but unfortunately attendees should monitor themselves for COVID…
By Paul Marszalek
Updated to Include Statement from WXPN General Manager Roger LaMay (below original story).
The 20th in-person gathering of the NON-COMMvention is in the books, but there is a bit of a hangover.
As with the recent White House Correspondent’s Dinner, the event did not escape COVID’s grasp.
Not only were there two late scratches to the artist lineup, with Hurray for the Riff Raff cancelling and Wales’ Buzzard Buzzard Buzzard failing to clear protocols at the Cardiff airport, there are reports of positive tests coming out of the event among attendees.
Thus, to be safe, attendees should consider themselves to have been exposed, be on the lookout for symptoms, test, and follow precautions as recommended by the CDC.
As the event worked to get the NON-COMM community back together after a two-year layoff, panels attempted to address topics ranging from the future of Triple A and Public Media (unresolved) to progress for women in the format (perhaps incremental for professionals, but no improvement for women artists in terms of airplay).
Particularly strong was the panel that focused on “Artists and Streaming Services.” WXPN’s Bruce Warren spoke with Thirty Tigers’ David Macias and artist Tom Gray of Gomez, who started a movement with his highly recommended and widely read Twitter thread, #BrokenRecord.
The feed has led the British Government to consider a complete re-set of the music industry.
Tom was quotable multiple times, especially when he said, “Everyone says ‘Fuck Spotify.’ I say, no, ‘Unfuck Spotify’.”
Both he and Macias acknowledge the incredible potential of the streaming services, but take issue with the unfair economics on the artist side.
Macias went further in noting that while streaming services technically democratize the music space, the truth is that artists still need assistance in breaking through the now massive amounts of clutter – and labels function to address that need.
The event wound down with the naming of the recipient of the Rita Houston Spirit of NON-COMM Award.
Honoring the late WFUV programmer, inaugural recipient Jennifer Daunt handed the honor to Cheryl Waters of KEXP/Seattle.
Waters has been a supporter of artists for decades — since debuting on the signal in 1994, when the call letters were KCMU.
(Main page photo: Britt Daniel and Alex Fischel of Spoon)
Message from Roger LaMay, WXPN General Manager
Good afternoon. Thanks for sharing an amazing week with us at the NON-COMMvention. We particularly thank the long list of artists who filled their short sets with incredible music, most of it new. The highlights are too many to list. You re-connected with friends and colleagues after a two year hiatus, shared ideas, and had important conversations around the future of Public Radio Music. We also thank the staff at World Cafe Live for their role in making it a great week. We were honored by your presence and participation. We want to know what you think of this year’s event. Keep an eye out for a survey later this week
We have been made aware that some individuals who were in attendance at NON-COMMvention last week have since tested positive for COVID-19. I and a couple of my colleagues here at XPN are among them.
It is not possible to determine whether this event or related travel fell within their infectious window and understand that there is an uptick in case rates in many of our communities, but we recommend following the CDC guidance, which includes:
- Monitor for symptoms and test immediately if symptoms are present
- Testing is recommended as soon as symptoms present and/or between day 5 and day 7 post-exposure
For those affected for any reason, we wish you a quick and full recovery. I am personally grateful to be fully vaccinated and expect to be better in a few days.
Take care and see you next year,