May 9, 2022 at 12:30pm
Dane Lisser

Music industry creative conference shines light on community

Millikin University's Midwest Music Expo (MmX™) is a music industry creative conference that shines the light on artists throughout Decatur (Ill.) and highlights the importance of community involvement.

For the first time in two years, the Midwest Music Expo returned to in-person activities where singers, musicians, producers and artists gathered at the University Commons on May 7 to enjoy live music, support local vendors and hear from expert panelists in the music industry.

Started in 2019 by Martin Atkins, coordinator of music business at Millikin, along with Millikin students, the Midwest Music Expo gave all those in attendance a chance to exchange ideas, connections and opportunities.

Midwest Music Expo

Martin Atkins

"It's a lesson in community involvement. There is so much potential in Decatur and everybody can help each other," Atkins said.

This year's event featured 43 speakers, 25 vendors and an array of panelists such as Chicago Attorney Eddie Sanders; Audrey Martinovich, co-owner of Audio for the Arts; Orville Kline Ableton, certified trainer and DJ; Aly Swengel of Decatur Health and Wellness/Float Decatur; and Atkins.

Keynote speaker, Wendy Day, founder of Rap Coalition, spoke on how she and her nonprofit connect with aspiring artists and help them remove themselves from bad contracts, and lead them towards good deals that will put them on the path for success.

Day also spoke about how she works with artists and makes them realize how important authenticity is, especially when it comes to marketing yourself online.

"People want to see that you are authentic," Day said. "This is a really difficult time if you are going to try to pretend to be something that you aren't. Make sure there is some truth. Just make sure that when you are spreading who you are, people can really feel you."

Day has worked with artists such as Eminem, Lil Wayne, Master P, Twista, Hot Boyz and many more, and she offers her expertise through panel discussions, seminars, negotiations, mentorships and consultations.

Midwest Music Expo

"For me, the expo is about intellectual property, connections and community," Atkins said.

More than 20 artists on May 7 took to the stage to perform while guests enjoyed live drawings, a screen-printing workshop, an Ableton Workshop, a songwriting workshop, song listening panel, vinyl, clothing and more.