July 23, 2008

Dfest Aims to Highlight OKC-Area Artists Among Headliners

By Heather Caliendo

Tom Green is out to prove live entertainment is big business in Oklahoma. He said he's hoping the anticipated attendance of 60,000 fans for Dfest will help back his claim.

"We bring stuff to the event that no other events have - it's the unique experience that separates Dfest from any other event in Oklahoma," he said.

Dfest is the Midwest's largest music festival that features national recognized headliners among local artists - about 50 bands of the lineup come from Oklahoma. The All-American Rejects, the Roots and Paramore are some of the headliners that will take the stage in downtown Tulsa.

Green and his wife, Angie, created Dfest in 2002 for what he calls a "self-serving way" to market their own band. The first event was a far cry from the current attendance with just 150 people for 12 booked bands. Still, the couple got requests to hold the festival again and they decided to focus full-time on developing Dfest.

"We hung up our rock 'n' roll boots," he said. "We stumbled upon something that is greater than us than what we were trying to achieve."

With the support of the city and the Blue Dome District, Dfest has surpassed its humble beginnings, drawing acts like the Flaming Lips and bringing in 40,000 fans.

Green is touting Dfest as a cost-effective form of entertainment. It costs $30 for the wristband to watch the bands all weekend. Because of high gas prices, many festivals across the country had to fold, which is one option Green said he is ensuring won't happen.

"We are working with sponsors to keep tickets at a price that is affordable," he said. "We're upholding our bargain and making sure people can see great talent without taking out a second mortgage."

One key element that distinguishes Dfest is the comprehensive music conference that provides an educational networking opportunity for local bands.

"This is the nuts and bolts of why Dfest exists," he said. "We provide the educational component and band members can come out and hopefully connect with the right person to help their career - it helps creates better artists."

Green said a major mistake musicians make is not grasping the business side of the music industry. The conference consists of panels full of industry members and musicians discussing marketing strategies and alternative revenue streams. This year the All- American Rejects will discuss how they went from sharing $1,000 in the bank to selling multi-platinum records.

Dfest and emerging local artists seeing mainstream success continue to improve Oklahoma's music image, Green said.

"We're finally getting respect in the music industry," he said. "This (the conference) helps Oklahoman artists get connections, and helps the artists further their career and understand the changing pace of the music industry."

Green and his wife also started a nonprofit organization called the Oklahoma Foundation for the Music Industry. The purpose is to help foster an educational network for local artists by sponsoring music seminars all year long. Green said the organization is working with the University of Oklahoma on a study that will measure the effect local artists have on the state's economy.

"The data when we are able to share with the rest of the state can point out how every one of those guys, to the local bands up to the Flaming Lips, is big business in Oklahoma," he said.

Originally published by Heather Caliendo.

(c) 2008 Journal Record - Oklahoma City. Provided by ProQuest Information and Learning. All rights Reserved.