It’s a common tale: to get noticed in the music industry, you have to go to New York, Los Angeles, Chicago.
“Philadelphia has a rich history of music and has so many talented musicians. … but there is a complaint that to be successful, you leave Philadelphia,” said City Councilman David Oh. “And that’s bad for our economy.”
This fall, Oh and a few friends are hoping to help push Philadelphia to become a springboard for its own talent pool.
Oh announced Thursday his plan to launch “PHL Live Center Stage,” a city-wide festival and competition for local bands to help promote the city’s music scene.
Accomplished artists Chill Moody and GoGo Morrow, both from Philadelphia, said Thursday that to bring talent scouts to Philadelphia the city has to show the scouts that the talent is here.
“People used to come here to make it,” said Chill Moody, an Overbrook High School graduate who was nominated for an MTV online award. “It’s possible we can do that again. We just need the infrastructure to do that.”
GoGo Morrow, a West Philadelphia native who’s most known for touring with Lady Gaga as a back-up singer, said Center City “needs to not close at 7 p.m.,” and more outdoor events, especially during the summer, that can easily be accessible by city dwellers, would help bring the artists out of their studios and create a buzz.
“We used to have an open mic night or an event every night of the week,” Morrow said. “And now there are none.”
Musicians can register for free to participate in PHL Live. The festival is open to eight genres (classical, country/folk, hip-hop/rap, jazz, world, pop/dance, R&B, rock, gospel and DJ), but only artists that are 18 years and old can apply.
Bands and artists are asked to upload a 3- to 5-minute video of an original piece of music to the festival’s website starting Aug. 15. The festival will kickoff in October.
A panel of judges will pick the top 5 in every category and advance them into the competition.
Those chosen artists will perform live at various venues across the city, and the top band in each category will be chosen by a the judges and the audience. The best of each category will be announced at the final show at the Tracadero in December, which will include performances from several of the champion bands.
Moody said he thinks the music scene is heading in the right direction.
“We’ve got three big festivals a year now in Philly, Made in America, Roots’ Picnic, July 4th,” he said.
Morrow added, “The key with these festivals though is to get our locals on the main stage. I think that’s the next step.”
And of course, the city, Morrow said, has to support its own.
“Our people have a responsibility to support their own artists as well. We can’t get to the next level as a unit unless we support each other,” she said. “A lot of us don’t look to our own people until they leave and that’s when we get recognition, so if we recognize them while they’re here then it will bring the outsiders here.”
Follow Tommy Rowan on Twitter: @tommyrowan