CINCINNATI — There are plenty of people who can belt out a beautiful song shred on a guitar. But becoming a successful musician requires a lot more than just talent.

What You Need To Know

  • The inaugural City Sound Summit takes place Aug. 26 and Aug. 27

  • Music industry veterans will share personal stories to help up-and-coming artists navigate their careers

  • The event is hosted by the Cincinnati Music Accelerator

  • CMA's goal is to turn Cincinnati into a top music city by promoting local artists

It also requires business knowhow — things like marketing, maybe even some understanding of how contracts work, according to Kick Lee, a Cincinnati-based music producer. He said having key connections never hurts, either.

That’s why Lee is putting on the inaugural City Sound Summit, a two-day conference focused on helping talented but undiscovered artists make it in the music industry. 

The event’s agenda includes panel discussions with high-profile music producers, songwriters, marketers, recording artists and even a few executives. Lee plans to leave plenty of time for networking as well.

The summit is Aug. 26 and Aug. 27 at the Art Academy of Cincinnati. Doors open at 3 p.m. and talks begin promptly at 4 p.m.

“By creating an event that brings top industry talent to Cincinnati, I hope it will attract artists from around the country to explore the opportunities for music creatives in our city and region,” said Lee, the founder and executive director at Cincinnati Music Accelerator.

The speaker panel includes a mix of top names in the entertainment business.

Friday’s keynote speaker is Cincinnati native, ClockworkDJ, once called “the best DJ in the world” by the late Mac Miller.

He’s toured, produced and worked with musical legends such as Hi-Tek, Talib Kweli, Kid Cudi, Wiz Khalifa, Thundercat, Wale and Mac Miller. Clock has also spun for massive brands like the NFL, NBA, MLS and Twitch, a major streaming service. 

ClockworkDJ, whose real name is Garrett Uddin, will share personal stories and insights on navigating the industry and building a successful, sustained music career.

The current speaker list also includes:

  • “Understanding Music Marketing and Events” — Marissa McClellan, marketing director of PromoWest 

  • “The Importance of Music Marketing and Branding” — Scarlet Hernandez, director of member success at REC PHILLY

  • “Studio Recording and Production” — SuperStar O, a multi-platinum music producer

  • “Life in the Music Industry” — Nemo Achida, producer, songwriter and a creative adviser for Jack Harlow

Each talk will also feature a question-and-answer session.

Lee noted that “music is meant to be performed, listened to and experienced. There are afterparties scheduled after each day of the conference, starting at 8 p.m. 

Plans call for vendors and live musical performances by some of the summit’s speakers, including ClockworkDJ. His unique style incorporates music from around the world, including everything from Jersey juke remixes to soulful beats, while adding on-the-spot mixing and blending. 

Tickets to the parties are on sale separately.

The aim is for the City Sound Summit to complement and support CMA’s mission to transform Cincinnati into the “next great music city” by supporting local artists through education and job placement, Lee said. 

Started in 2017, the Cincinnati Music Accelerator (CMA) is Ohio’s first music career accelerator and Cincinnati area nonprofit. Among its other projects, the Music Business Academy, which educates and empowers emerging musicians, DJs, producers, music managers or anyone looking to bolster their music education.

CMA supports a variety of community music programs designed to not only helping artists develop an audience but supporting local neighborhoods.

The organization partners on the Street Stage Project, which pays musicians to perform on the street, or busk, to liven up several parts of downtown in the afternoon and early evening.

CMA also tows its state-of-the-art portable sound stage to bring the sounds of talented local musicians to the streets of the Central Business District and Over-The-Rhine neighborhood.

Lee runs CMA Music Studio, which provides a professional, fully equipped workspace and studio for musicians to learn, create and propel their careers forward. 

“I started CMA with the intent to educate music creatives about the business side of the music industry, but it became so much more,” he said. “It became a place of hope and opportunity in our region.”

Every year, the organization serves more than 300 musicians, Lee said. One of those is Jayda Klink, a vocal artist. FC Cincinnati picked her to perform the national anthem at TQL Stadium ahead of a match, an opportunity booked by CMA.

“CMA has boosted my music career in more ways than I can possibly describe,” Klink said. “They are truly ending starving artists in Cincinnati and I am so blessed to have them by my side.”

The City Sound Summit will also serve as CMA’s annual fundraiser, with proceeds benefiting the organization’s mission and students, Lee said.

“When I began planning what CMA’s annual fundraiser would look like, I knew I wanted it to benefit not only our students but would also provide a window of opportunity to struggling artists everywhere,” he added. 

Looking toward the future, Lee views the summit as a budding “landmark event” for the region. He wants to use it to put “Cincinnati on the map as a true music city,” while creating opportunities for greater Cincinnati musicians.

“The hope in launching City Sound Summit is that we’re laying the groundwork for an event that will get bigger and better every year,” he added. “We have big plans, Cincinnati, and this is just the beginning.”