EMP Museum is proud to present the 2012 Pop Conference, “Sounds of the City,” at New York University on March 22–25, 2012.

Registration Now Open For EMP’s 2012 Pop Conference Presented  by NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music Jointly Held With IASPM-US Annual Conference March 22–25, 2012

Featuring Keynote with Grammy Winner Esperanza Spalding, Jay-Z Collaborator Santigold, and MC Heems of Das Racist, Plus Closing Keynote by Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots.

EMP Museum is proud to present the 2012 Pop Conference, “Sounds of the City,” at New York University on March 22–25, 2012. EMP’s 11th annual Pop Conference is presented by NYU’s Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music, and jointly held with the annual conference of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music (IASPM) U.S. Branch.    

Now in its 11th year, the EMP Pop Conference is traditionally presented at EMP Museum in Seattle. This year, for the first time, the conference will be staged in New York. With six or seven simultaneous panels, from 9:00am to 6:00pm, Friday through Sunday, the 2012 Pop Conference promises to be one of the largest and most diverse gatherings of popular music intellectuals ever assembled.

More than 300 journalists, academics, and artists are scheduled to present topics ranging from panels on Berlin, Detroit, New Orleans, and Los Angeles, to Korean, Egyptian, and Latin American pop, and sessions on New York City music from ragtime to hip-hop to Warhol's New York. Presenters will pay particular attention to what urban environments have meant for race, gender, and sexuality. Jazz, rock, indie, country, metal, electronic dance music, roots, disco, and Broadway music are but some of the sounds that will be the subject of panel discussions.

The conference kicks off Thursday, March 22 with an exciting keynote discussion featuring three of the most distinct young voices in popular music: Esperanza Spalding, last year’s Grammy winner for best new artist, and whose new album Radio Music Society is scheduled for release the week of the conference;  Trailblazer, and singer-songwriter-producer Santigold, now managed by Jay-Z’s Roc Nation; and Heems, MC of critically praised hip-hop trio Das Racist. The panel will be moderated by NPR music critic Ann Powers.  The conference will close on March 25 with a keynote by acclaimed musician and producer Ahmir “Questlove” Thompson of The Roots in conversation with Grammy-winning music executive Harry Weinger.  Many other celebrated musicians will be prominently featured at the conference, including Wu-Tang Clan rapper GZA, pioneer Kool DJ Red Alert, folk legend Peter Stampfel, jazz genius Vijay Lyer, punk pioneer Alice Bag, a Spanish language production of composer Robert Ashley's Perfect Lives, experimentalists DJ/rupture and Ben Neill, and young guitar slingers from the Willie Mae Rock Camp for Girls.

Pop Conference is free and open to the public, however pre-registration is highly recommended as space is limited. For a complete schedule of sessions, or to register now, participants may visit www.EMPmuseum.org/popconference.


Launched in Seattle in 2002, EMP’s Pop Conference, provides a platform for academics, critics, performers, and dedicated fans to join in a rare discussion. The 2012 EMP Pop Conference is presented by NYU's Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music and the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. Additional support is provided by the University of Alabama College of Arts and Sciences, on behalf of the American Studies Department. Pop Conference originated with support from the American Music Partnership of Seattle (EMP Museum, the University of Washington, and KEXP 90.3 FM), through a grant from the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. This year’s program committee members are: Daphne Brooks (Princeton), Anthony Kwame Harrison (Virginia Tech), Hua Hsu (Vassar), Patricia Costa Kim (EMP), Jason King (NYU Clive Davis Institute), Karl Hagstrom Miller (University of Texas), Evie Nagy (Rolling Stone), Tavia Nyong’o (NYU), Caroline Polk O’Meara (University of Texas), Ann Powers (NPR Music), Greg Tate (Village Voice, Burnt Sugar, and Coon Bidness) and  Eric Weisbard (Conference Organizer, University of Alabama).


EMP is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the exploration of creativity and innovation in music, science fiction, and popular culture. EMP combines interpretative, interactive exhibitions with state-of-the-art technologies, and educational programming to offer visitors of all ages a first-hand, multi-dimensional experience of the creative and artistic process. EMP is housed in a 140,000 square foot Frank O. Gehry designed building. This spectacular, prominently visible structure has the presence of a monumental sculpture set against the backdrop of the Seattle Center.  For more information, visit EMPmuseum.org.


The Clive Davis Institute of Recorded Music is the first of its kind to provide professional business and artistic training toward a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree. The undergraduate program is designed to provide professional training for students who aspire to succeed as creative entrepreneurs in the music industry.  Since it opened its doors in 2003, the program has been a leader in training aspiring music entrepreneurs.  It has been on the cutting edge of music education, offering innovative courses like “The History of Def Jam,” “Emerging Music Trends,” and “Branding.”  The program bears the name of its chief patron and advisor, Clive Davis.


IASPM-US represents the United States branch of the International Association for the Study of Popular Music. IASPM-US has been an important part of the popular music landscape since the early 1980s and serves as a forum for a range of scholarly and other approaches to popular music. IASPM-US publishes the quarterly Journal of Popular Music Studies.  Its democratic, inclusive outlook extends not only across different academic disciplines but also to critics, journalists, industry workers, and cultural administrators.











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