Philly Music Fest Founder Greg Seltzer Talks on Fesitval and Philly Music Scene
Philly’s Music Fest- the city’s only festival to feature local bands – is returning for its third year, from September 25th-28th. The festival spans four-nights over three independent venues, Milkboy, Johnny Brenda’s, and the last two nights at World Cafe Live.
This year, the headliners are Man Man, Vacationer, Speedy Ortiz, and Ceramic Animal and features 25 local bands that range from bluegrass to hop-hop to jazz to punk and rock.
Philly Music Fest (PMF) is a non-profit organization, founded by Greg Seltzer, a corporate lawyer by day and a music curator by night. PMF donates its proceeds to local music education charities. The first year it made $15,000. The second made $25,000. This year, Seltzer hopes to exceed that and make $30,000+.
Know Philly talked with Seltzer about the festival and the importance of music education. Check out our interview below:
KP: What made you want to start the festival?
GS: Five years ago, I was in and around Philly doing legal work and I thought Philly should have a music festival, but not an outdoor one, that should really focus on the talent that comes out of this city.
So, I started PMF with a three-prong mission in mind. The first mission is that it should be organized as a nonprofit and the proceeds will be donated to charities that help children learn music in school because a lot of schools have dropped their music programs. The second condition would be that it assists and highlights local musicians and bands from Philly only. Finally, our shows will be featured at independent venues, so that those venues can make money.
KP: Why is it important to you that the funds from the festival are donated to local music education charities?
GS: It benefits the music community and scene in Philly. The younger generation, anywhere from 10 years old to high schoolers need to understand music in the fabric of Philly and be educated on the importance of it so that when they are older, they can pursue music, like the bands we feature are.
KP: How do you think the Philadelphia music scene is unique from other places?
GS: That’s a very loaded question, but I would say that Philly has a lot of diversity in the genres of music. There are a lot of deep music roots, which in the last 10 to 15 years have pivoted towards the independent rock and hip-hop scenes.
Philly is a big destination to move to to make music. The people are very creative there. A lot of these musicians work at start- up technology companies and bars and restaurants during the day that allow them to play at night, so they can afford to pursue their music careers.
KP: How do you pick the bands that will perform at the festival each year?
GS: We get a lot of submissions, but we also go to a lot of shows and scout out bands we think reflect the Philly community. Also, we try to pick musicians from many different genres that are popular in Philly (bluegrass, jazz, hip-hop, Indie rock, and folk).
KP: What do you hope the attendees get out of this year’s festival?
GS: That’s a good question. Besides having fun watching live music for a reasonable price, I hope anyone who attends understands our mission and attends with that in mind. They will be happy that they did something good.
KP: How do you plan to expand the festival in the future?
GS: We’ve already expanded from two nights to three nights and now four nights. I could have focused on better staging and branding but instead I am focusing on the independent venues. I think if it turned into a weeklong thing that would be really cool. Maybe the festival could even be played at a jazz club.
Before the festival happens at night, there is a Tech Tour on the day of September 27th. Tech Tour is when our bands bring music into tech companies and do a show for them. This year that is taking place at Guru Tech on Broad St. There will be three bands there and afterwards they have a discussion panel on business and technology, women empowerment and entrepreneurship.
The next day, Saturday, September 28th, InSide Hustle takes place. With the support of WXPN, bands can promote their music or brand. It features speakers from Philly’s music industry.
I think in the future, we can expand on these two events more. (Admission to both panels are free).
Thank you so much, Greg Seltzer for talking with us. We can’t for this year’s festival!