Ohio University’s Music Industry Summit remains premier music industry conference of the Midwest

Ohio University’s sixth Music Industry Summit cemented it as a premier music conference. The annual Summit provides students and professionals with a unique opportunity at no cost.

Alex Semancik | April 23, 2024


Ohio University’s sixth annual Music Industry Summit was its largest offering to date with attendance more than doubling compared to last year. More than 2,500 OHIO students, Bobcat alumni, industry professionals, high schoolers, and music lovers of all ages congregated for the opportunity to learn, engage with music industry leaders, and enjoy a series of networking and performance events. Hundreds more attended conference programming virtually.

The Music Industry Summit (MIS) recently took place on April 9-10, 2024, with both in-person and virtual attendance options. The conference featured an exclusive gathering of prominent artists and music industry leaders on Ohio University’s Athens campus including Grammy Award-winning guitarist, singer, and songwriter Jason Isbell and acclaimed hip-hop artist Earl Sweatshirt who both participated in keynote conversations. Isbell closed the Summit with a sold-out solo concert at Templeton-Blackburn Alumni Memorial Auditorium. Acclaimed artists Bully and Craig Finn hosted an exclusive opening show on April 8, at Stuart’s Opera House.

Attendees were given a holistic dive into the music industry with in-depth interviews and panel discussions on topics like navigating the music industry, publicity in the music industry ecosystem and ever-changing media landscape, music distribution and discovery, songwriting and production, music placement and artist discovery in gaming, data and analytics in music, the process of music placement and sourcing for feature films and television shows and more.

Conversations featured an impressive roster of esteemed industry professionals. Discussions and keynote presentations also incorporated an interactive audience “Q&A” where in-person and virtual attendees could ask speakers questions via the OHIO MIS app. Beyond the core programming that took place at Baker University Center, this year’s Summit also included an expanded selection of community networking events including an opening night party at Stuart’s Opera House, a networking happy hour and jam session at StewMac, and an afterparty concert at The Union hosted by OHIO student hip-hop collective Midnight Music.

Earl Sweatshirt speaks at the 2024 Music Industry Summit.
Earl Sweatshirt speaks at the 2024 Music Industry Summit. (Photo by Walker Smith)

“Our team worked hard to build on the strengths of the previous Summit to improve programming and offer expanded opportunities for attendees,” said Josh Antonuccio, director of the Music Industry Summit and Ohio University’s School of Media Arts and Studies. “Many of our registrants are now aspiring professionals and artists coming in from a six-state radius and beyond.”


Students get the best seats

People sit in a row as part of an audience for the Music Industry Summit. One girl smiles at the camera

By design, OHIO students gain the most from the Music Industry Summit experience. Read more about how courses and involvement opportunities bring Bobcats face-to-face with the industry.

POV: You're a Bobcat at the Music Industry Summit


Drew Holzaepfel, executive director of OHIO Performing Arts and Concert Series, agreed and reflected on how the addition of major keynote artists like Jason Isbell expanded the profile of this year’s event.

“The inclusion of Jason Isbell in this year's summit raised the level of both the Ohio University Concert Series and the Music Industry Summit,” he shared.  “It was truly a special opportunity to experience his creativity through both his words and music.”

Attendees and community members were clearly impressed with the amount, and variety, of artists and professionals who visited Athens to participate in the Summit. Bobcat alumnus and Columbus-based Music Promoter Brian Ostrander has attended the MIS for five years and has seen the event grow each time.

“I feel like Josh [Antonuccio] has done a great job with the program and with the whole event, bringing in really great guests, moderators, speakers, mentors, performers and everything,” Ostrander said. “It’s been cool to see this thing progress over the several years I’ve been coming to it.”

Small Group Programming

In addition to the larger sessions, the 2024 Summit featured intimate breakout sessions, workshops and mentoring roundtables where participants got the opportunity to converse with and learn from mentors who have had success in music. As part of the expanded programming, the number of specialized learning sessions increased to 20 across both days and 40 visiting industry leaders offered mentoring meetups. All attendees were free to sign up for breakout and mentor sessions through the MIS app on a first-come, first-served basis.

Many mentors like Ohio University alumna Sarah Kloboves returned to campus to pass along knowledge acquired through industry experience. Kloboves graduated two years ago and currently works in New York as a Content Marketing Specialist at Chartmetric, a data analytics company specializing in music. She was happy to be back on campus and said this year’s Summit was a full-circle moment for her.

“It was awesome to be a mentor. I had a table full of women, so it was really cool to talk not only about the industry, but my experience as a woman in the industry,” said Kloboves. “The OU Music Industry Summit is so cool because it’s such a good embodiment of what these conferences look like on a national and global level. And it’s such a good way for students to dip their toes into this networking environment and everything.”

Music Industry Summit attendees enjoy lunch with mentor J Rawls.
Attendees enjoy lunch with mentor J Rawls. (Photo by Walker Smith)

Mentees were equally glad to be a part of the experience. OHIO Junior Music Production Recording Industry student Madison Baisden got to enjoy lunch with Grammy-nominated producer, engineer and songwriter Chris Messina who produced for one of her favorite artists, Bon Iver.

“We talked about the industry—being an artist, but also being on the business side of things. I asked questions about how to transition from school to the actual industry, and advice on all sorts of things,” said Baisden. “I’ve been to the music industry summit for the past two years now and I finally feel like I’m getting the hang of things. Josh [Antonuccio] has built everyone up to talk to people, not to see it as networking but as a conversation, and not to be afraid to ask for advice.”

OHIO Connections

For Ohio University students, the Music Industry Summit was a gateway to the industry and portal to the future. Students who attended received valuable advice and connected with professionals, many of whom were walking the same brick streets of campus not long ago.

The Bobcat community paid it forward with tremendous alumni turn out including:

  • Mary Jo Braun, vice president of music clearance at Paramount Pictures
  • Cameryn Conner, rights management associate at Mechanical Licensing Collective
  • Brothertiger (John Jagos), acclaimed electronic musician and producer
  • Faith Galloway, director of operations at Bauer Entertainment Marketing
  • Macy Gilbert, artist manager at Grandview Music
  • Sarah Kloboves, digital marketing coordinator at Chartmetric
  • Rachael LaCava, music supervisor and music research analyst at Meta
  • Alex Malcolm, global music sync at Warner Music Group
  • Brian Muehlenkamp, product manager at Ticketmaster
  • Dave Polster, senior mastering engineer at Well Made Music
  • J Rawls (Dr. Jason Rawls), producer and assistant professor of hip hop at Ohio State University
  • Kevin Rutherford Sr., charts and data analyst for streaming services and rock at Billboard
  • Jaron Takach, producer and multi-instrumentalist for Saticöy
  • Ted Van Hyning, vice president at NPi Audio Visual Solutions
  • Jon Zellner, president of programming operations and digital music at iHeart Media
Ohio University students seek advice from mentor and speaker Macy Gilbert.
Ohio University students seek advice from mentor and speaker Macy Gilbert. (Photo by Walker Smith)

“The overall goal is to create an event for OHIO students that provides access and learning opportunities with leading artists, entrepreneurs, change agents, creatives and people that are at different levels within music and tangential industries, free of cost and on their campus,” said Antonuccio.

The presence of so many successful alumni sent a clear message to students that a career in music is possible, and Ohio University can provide the foundation to get them there. Students hoping to work in adjacent industries like OHIO Sophomore Media Arts Production student Jacob Smith found the MIS equally valuable with sessions like “Music Licensing in the Gaming Industry.”

“I want to go more into the story development field, but the Summit gave me insight into how the music industry works and the different avenues you can take to connect with professionals and clients,” said Smith. “A lot of these people usually remain nameless, faceless but seeing them, seeing the work they put in, and seeing what they’ve been able to accomplish is my main takeaway.”

Midwest Music Hub

Since it began in 2018, the Ohio University Music Industry Summit has grown into a premier music industry conference and is now the largest in the Midwest. The Summit was named one of the “7 Essential Music Conferences” by Soundfly in 2022, along with conferences, such as South by Southwest and Canadian Music Week. 

“Career trajectories changed because of something learned or someone met at MIS. That is why we do this,” said Paul Benedict, director of the Center for Entrepreneurship. “I don’t know how we top this year, but it’s going to be fun to try.”

The incredible collection of nearly 50 artists, entrepreneurs and industry leaders drew crowds from across state lines. Groups of college students drove from as far as New Jersey to attend the event. Jason Isbell’s very rare solo concert was also a large draw with fans coming from North Carolina, Chicago and beyond to see the singer-songwriter perform live.

Singer-songwriter Jason Isbell speaks at 2024 Music Industry Summit
Jason Isbell speaks at the 2024 Music Industry Summit.

University of Dayton marketing student Makayla Pindroh was one of many students from other universities who made the trip to the Summit.

“This was my first time on campus, and it was very pretty,” said Pindroh “I’m more of a businessperson trying to delve into music and this was a great environment for that.”

Makayla’s father Shawn Pindroh happily attended the MIS with her.

“As a parent, it’s really awesome that Ohio University can offer this opportunity to college students and students entering college to help them decide their career path,” he said.

The Music Industry Summit is produced by Ohio University’s Scripps College of Communication and The School of Media Arts and Studies, College of Fine Arts’ Performing Arts and Concert Series and the Center for Entrepreneurship, in partnership with the College of Business, TechGrowth Ohio, and the Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service.

For more information on registering, the full schedule of events, speaker biographies and more, please visit https://www.ohio.edu/music-industry-summit.