The 2020 Latin Alternative Music Conference Moves Online

Jun 7, 2020

One of the casualties of the COVID-19 shutdown has been live music. When authorities banned large gatherings in March, the music industry as a whole came to a virtual standstill for several weeks.

Things slowly things started to change as artists began offering performances from their homes but venues still remain closed, major festivals have been canceled and tours large and small are on an indefinite hold.

But for at least one major musical event, the Latin Alternative Music Conference (LAMC), the show will go on this coming week — virtually.

Alt.Latino host Felix Contreras talks about the change in format of the festival, which typically runs for four days and four nights every July in New York, and offers some music from The Sinseers, one of the many scheduled performers. Listen in the audio player above, and tune in to Alt.Latino later this week for two episodes recorded as part of the Latin American Music Conference.

Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:

One of the casualties of the pandemic lockdown has been live music. When authorities banned large gatherings in March, the music industry as a whole came to a virtual standstill for several weeks. Then slowly, things started to change as artists began offering performances from their homes. Still, venues remain closed, major festivals have been cancelled and tours large and small are on an indefinite hold.

But for at least one major musical event, the Latin Alternative Music Conference, the show will go on this coming week - virtually. Felix Contreras is the host of NPR Music's Alt Latino podcast, and he's here to fill us in on what's going on.

Hi, Felix.

FELIX CONTRERAS, BYLINE: Hey, Sarah. How are you?

MCCAMMON: Great to talk with you. So tell us what happens at this conference normally and how it will take place now.

CONTRERAS: OK. This is the 21st annual LAMC, and it's usually held during four days and nights in July, the hottest time of the year in New York. But this year, it all takes place online, and it's moved up a month. It's going to be four days next week. And again, normally, it's spread out all over New York, with daytime panels featuring things like how to license your music for commercials, guidelines for successful - how to get a manager. And at night, they feature a ton of showcases at venues all across the city.

MCCAMMON: So they moved it up.

CONTRERAS: They moved it up because they felt like it was important to keep this going and also to keep the community connected in this time when everybody is so spread out, and you can't physically be in the same room. They felt that doing it right now and in this way keeps everybody together.

MCCAMMON: So before we talk more about how this event is actually going to work this year, I want to hear some of this music. What are some of the highlights that you're looking forward to, Felix?

CONTRERAS: OK. The LAMC is one of the major places of discovery for this music, and the other being South by Southwest. That's how important this is. And believe it or not, you're going to be able to check out 39 bands online this year, like this one. It's called Thee Sinseers - that's T-H-E-E. It's a Chicano soul band from East LA. It's led by a very creative young musician named Jose Quinones, and it's a throwback to the lowriders oldies sound of 1960s Southern California - really, really cool sound. Their new single is called "What's His Name."

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT'S HIS NAME")

THEE SINSEERS: (Singing) Baby, baby, whatcha tryin' (ph) to do to me?

MCCAMMON: Oh, nice. That kind of sounds like summer.

CONTRERAS: Right.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WHAT'S HIS NAME")

THEE SINSEERS: (Singing) You're doing all the things, all the things I said you'd never do to me.

MCCAMMON: OK. And so tell us how the organizers are actually going to pull off this festival given the limitations of the pandemic.

CONTRERAS: The LAMC is organized by a media company called Industria Works, and they own a record label called Nacional Records. So they've been doing this for a while. And what they did is they did something very clever. They hired a guy named Jose Tillan. He's a well-known producer of Live TV events like the Latin Grammys and other awards shows, and he's pre-produced all of the panels, workshops, artists interviews and showcase performances. They're all done ahead of time. And it will be presented as one continuous stream of content for four days.

MCCAMMON: And is this something that anybody can just sort of tune into?

CONTRERAS: If you look for them on their website, you'll be able to register. They're offering it for free this year. And they expect to have 10,000 registrants from all over the U.S. and Latin America and beyond - anywhere that people listen to this music.

MCCAMMON: Very cool. Felix Contreras is the host of the Alt Latino podcast from NPR Music. He'll be celebrating the show's 10th anniversary with an interview with Colombian superstar Juanes, which will be featured next Wednesday during the Latin Alternative Music Conference.

Thanks, Felix.

CONTRERAS: Thank you.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "SUPERBALADA")

MALA RODRIGUEZ: (Singing in Spanish). Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.