No, EMP's Pop Conference Isn't A Seattle Thing Anymore, and It's Definitely Headed For LA

EMP made official what was widely discussed and suspected, that they'll be taking their Pop Conference --- a weekend of panel discussions, paper presentations, and over-analysis of all things pop music -- out of Paul Allen's EMP and on to UCLA for 2011, no longer being a fixture on the local music-geek calendar.

Festival organized Eric Weisbard says that for the most part, the conference will remain unchanged. The general format and the same types of presentations will carry on to the different venue.

"The museum and its staff are going to stay involved, and the [Education] department is going to come up with programming to be part of the conference," Weisbard says. "It's going to not be dissimilar from when an EMP exhibit opens in Seattle and travels to other cities, the way it's been showing that what's been done in Seattle has relevance elsewhere as well."

Weisbard said the new location may broaden the conference's audience and take it to the next level.

"Because it's in Los Angeles," he says, "we hope to get the participation of more music industry people and musicians who wouldn't have necessarily gotten in a plane to Seattle."

It's not uncommon for academic conferences to rotate locations. But for an event like Pop Conference, which intentionally works to bring together academics and non-academics alike, that's a particular challenge. Pop Conference kicks in for many presenters' travel costs.

"The academic model for conference is you can get funding from departments," Weisbard says. "If we want to continue to be a conference that encourages participation from non-academics, too, we need help with the travel funding."

This is also one of the reasons why Pop Conference has always remained free.

"Keeping the event free ... would keep the possibility open for students to attend, people with an interest in music who are not academic," he says. "It's part of the ideal of having an event that feels inclusive."

The theme for the conference, which announced its call for proposals today, focuses on music and money, which Weisbard found fitting for this year's location.

Weisbard says the intention is to hold the conference at NYU the following year and return to Seattle for 2013.

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