Yellow Phone Music Conference returns

Last updated on July 2nd, 2019 at 09:41 am

Yellow Phone Music Conference will return to Milwaukee for a third year with new opportunities for musicians-in-the-making to connect with industry professionals and opportunities for music lovers to discover up-and-coming singers, songwriters and bands.


The conference, scheduled to run Thursday, Sept. 5, through Sunday, Sept. 8, has been dubbed one of the most accessible music conferences in the country with one-on-one mentoring sessions and panel discussions for musicians hoping to make it big.

“You have access to some of the biggest industry professionals who will mentor you and help further your career,” said Doug Johnson, partner at Milwaukee-based Pursuit Live and one of the event’s organizers.

Along with his business partner, Scott Ziel, and conference organizer David Silbaugh, Johnson has arranged for music moguls like Jeff Castelaz, president of Elektra Records, to give industry advice to hopeful musicians attending the conference.

Castelez, who largely grew his music career in Milwaukee, will keynote the conference while Nick Haussling of Warner Bros. Records, Chris Porter of One Reel, and Gabe McDonough of Leo Burnett will serve as panelists.

“Basically, we have a good cross section of people who we know in the business,” Ziel said.

This year’s conference will also showcase 40 rising bands at five Milwaukee venues through concerts that are open to the public.

“This year, as a giveback to Milwaukee and basically to not create any sort of barriers for people in Milwaukee to be part of this event, all of our showcases are going to be free,” Ziel said.

Admission to panel discussions, mentor sessions, networking receptions and the VIP keynote brunch is available for $149.

While attendance rates at last year’s conference doubled rates of the inaugural event with 250 conference-goers and about 2,000 concert-goers, Johnson and Ziel are optimistic that they’ll draw even more people this year, particularly after receiving a $30,000 JEM Grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism to contribute to marketing efforts beyond the state.

But their focus is much more on creating a “qualitative” experience rather than a “quantitative” one in a city they describe as a “Midwestern jewel.”

“We feel that this is the most exciting time culturally in Milwaukee, and we are a part of it,” Ziel said. “We’re helping it grow. We want to continue helping it grow, and it’s reinforced by some of the conversations that we have with people who come to Milwaukee on our invitation.”

For a complete lineup of Yellow Phone Music Conference events, visit

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