The journey of the Asian American Music Conference (AAMC) began over fifteen years ago, but here we are at the start of its second crossing — one with its share of challenges to find the right footing. Today, we made the decision to postpone the conference due to the emerging outbreak of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. This conference would have been the second conference and attempt after a cancellation in November 2018 due to the air quality produced by the California wildfires.
The AAMC was originally founded in 2003 under Prime Image Media Group (PIMG), a multicultural event agency specializing in the Asian market. Personally leading AAMC’s vision and programming, the idea came about while building my event management career at PIMG and starting out as an independent artist manager. I was in Southern California at my artist’s gig at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center (JACC), when I was chatting with an artist from the area who expressed wishing there were more gig opportunities nearby. I got to share about a non-profit organization called FilAm Arts that had festivals and events that were very supportive of my artist. I realized at that moment that there was a growing amount of Asian American artists, community leaders, and individuals in the music industry and the arts — but we were unaware of one another unless you were looking. The idea of AAMC emerged.
It was an exciting time when AAMC was launched. With very little representation of Asians in the mainstream music industry, the conference quickly became a meeting ground of industry players who intended to make it happen. I still remember when Bay Area hip hop icon Davey D, dubbed the Bay Area as the “mecca of Asian American music artists” —just after the extremely successful rise and fall of the Asian American music scene in the late 1990s and early 2000s.
But, we couldn’t keep AAMC going. Our costs and audience were doubling every year, during a time when we still had to explain what Asian American meant and what the differences between our diverse cultures within that cluster were— to potential sponsors. That was 2006.
Fast forward a decade later — after having spent significant time managing Asian American music artists, consulting for entertainment markets in Asia, adapting to the digital music industry — I had the opportunity to relaunch this event in 2017. Over the years, the desire to relaunch this event stayed in my heart and grew as my experience working in this community kept directing me to back to the basics. Today we have seen much more representation in the entertainment industry, and those who pioneered the Asian American music movement in the 1970s-1990s, have seen their work come into fruition.
But how do we keep it going? None of us have the perfect formula but I believe in these basic elements:
- It always starts with the music.
- Artists and individuals in the music business should be equipped with ongoing knowledge to keep their creativity and business acumen going.
- Being able to collaborate and tap into a supportive community — strengthens inspiration, creative power, and innovation.
These same basic elements is what moves us to continue the journey to the launch. Whenever and however that may be, I hope to see you there!