According to the Summit Music Conference, Denver is ready for a hip-hop breakthrough

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Over the weekend, the Summit Music Conference and Showcase took over Casselman's for a day. A panel consisting of people with ties to Sirius/XM Radio, Warner Music, Atlantic Records and more discussed ways artists in Denver can help the hip-hop scene ascend to new heights. There are those in Denver who see the path to success leading them out of the Mile High, but the panel at the Summit Music Conference Saturday had a very different perception. Panelist Amber Ravenel put in place the following theme for the day: "It starts at home."

The Simone Amelia international journalist and of Sirius Radio, Columbus "Lambo" Williams Music & Production Manager for the Music Collective, Yaasiel "Success" Davis A&R at Atlantic Records, John Rossi of Def Jam Records, Renada Romain also of Sirius Radio XM and Ravenel of Ravenel Records, leaving the room with a plethora of opinions and an overall theme that you could make it from your home city.

"In hip-hop right now we have more characters than ever before," said Amelia, who is a journalist. "Pick an image and drive it home. You can't please everyone." Amelia started the first hip-hop magazine in Australia before moving to New York, "I can attest to being in a place where you feel like you have no voice."

Amber Ravenel, who runs a record label in New York, often dominated the conversation. "You live in a place where it is easier to get ten thousand people to follow you," she said. "Look around the room and exchange information with everyone in here."

Other panelist dissected the misuse of social networks, "Don't tag people and blast out 'Download now!!!' It's annoying and most people just scroll by it anyway," said John Rossi of Def Jam."Don't use Facebook or Twitter as a marketing tool. Use it as a conversation, because that's what it is."

The panel also discussed common mis-perceptions about the process of getting signed to a label. "I have about ten to fifteen meetings a day with artists [looking for a deal] and I probably meet one artist every few months who can walk into a label ready for a deal," said Yaasiel "Success" Davis of Atlantic Records. He also talked about the label's reluctance to sign new artists. The group also stressed the importance of doing your homework. "Understand how radio works. Know the difference between a radio personality and a mix-show DJ," said Renada Romain of Sirius.

They also used Macklemore to describe how the models are changing and allowing for more creative approaches, some of which don't involve labels at all. "A label is a bank, He just has a different bank," said Ravenel. "But he used the same service as a major label, it's just that all the money came back to him."

Denver seems to be primed for a breakthrough by a hip-hop artist, and the conference's host Mike Gomez of Fogo Management feels like the city is ready for these kinds of discussions. "I want artists to be better prepared so they can be managed. I need the market to step up with us. We all need to make that jump at the same time so the industry will be drawn to us."

It's unclear how (or if) the Summit Conference will impact the scene. But Gomez had an ideal outcome in mind saying, "At the end of the day, you have to be the guy at home first, the man in your own hood. So when you go to these markets, you can say, 'Even though I'm here, I'm the man back home.'

"People need to know not only are they going to come here and get weed, but they are going to get good music too."

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