Chad W. Lutz
Kent State University has always had ties to music greatness. From producing James Gang member and Eagles front man Joe Walsh (and former resident of the now parking lot Terrace Hall), to hosting the likes of psychedelic powerhouse Pink Floyd during their Atom Heart Mother Tour in 1970, Kent State has had strong ties to the liberal arts and, more specifically, the music scene. And although some of that notoriety has been at the expense of, “four dead in Ohio,” there’s no denying that Kent State and it’s surrounding areas have made valuable contributions to music over the years.

Groups like Mushroomhead, Bone Thugs N Harmony, The Pretenders, Devo, The Black Keys; all of these bands have risen out of the Akron rubber and the Cleveland clouds to national prominence. But none of them could have done this without the help of the record companies that took a chance and banked on these names and their talent.

On April 22nd, 2010, Stow-Based FTF Records will be holding a conference at Kent State University on the 3rd floor of Franklin Hall in the First Energy Auditorium. The event is intended to bring local and area artists together and to inform up and coming artists about the different aspects of the music industry.

“We want to show how in-depth the music business really is,” said Jeff Gargas, founder and president of FTF Records, on the overall aim of the conference. Also rubbing elbows at the event alongside Gargas will be Ante Up Audio owner Michael Seifert, Ed Brennan, promoter for Wind-Up Records, and entertainment lawyer and All Hail Records owner Tony Clark. Also attending will be Cleveland Scene Magazine marketing director Carissa Bowlin and Jordan Tishler of Digital Bear Inc. and

The event looks to bolster the Akron/Kent/Youngstown/Cleveland scene, and to help area bands alike take a more informed stab at the slippery serpent called success.
“We run into a lot of bands that think all it takes to make it is to record an album and book a show every weekend,” said Gargas in the same February release. “That’s a start, but there is a difference between staying local and becoming a regional or national act.”
I was able to get a hold of Gargas to get the scoop from the man himself and he had this to say.

“Throughout my short 12 years in this industry…it is amazing to see how different areas house different mindsets as to the importance of understanding the business of music.”

In today’s day and age, it’s fairly apparent that at the end of the day one of the main draws for becoming a recording artist is the money. Over-the-top performers like Lady Gaga, Britney Spears, Ricky Martin and Miley Cyrus; people pretty obviously taken by the beauty of the buck have all but soiled the music industry. Making it seem like all you have to do is throw together a few shitty lines of rhyming crap and flush it down the audio toilet and out will pop a few platinum records on the other side. Just dress it up real nice and the rest will fall into place. Well, the FTF Music Conference and Showcase held on the 22-25 will try to shy away from this mentality.

When I personally asked what he thought the overall intent of the conference was, Jeff stated that, “The money is not what this event is about for us; we want to help build this music scene and those who make it great.”

So if you’re a local musician who is quickly finding that stage diving into a group of twenty of your close friends isn’t quenching your thirst for notoriety, make a point to come out to the FTF Records Music Conference and Showcase on April 22-25 in Kent State’s First Energy Auditorium on the 3rd floor of Franklin Hall to get more information on, and hopefully take a couple steps towards, making a musical career a reality.