Music Updates

Mondo.NYC Organizers Talk 2021 Hybrid Event and How the Pandemic Changed Their Business

Slated to run from Oct. 12-15, Mondo’s in-person event will be held at the 450-capacity music venue Drom in NYC’s East Village. A limited number of emerging artist showcases are also slated to take place there, as well as at The Knitting Factory in Williamsburg and Manhattan venues Bowery Electric and Berlin Under A. The remainder of the showcases, including those for several international acts, will take place via Zoom.

Holding Mondo 2021 as an in-person event wasn’t always part of the plan — at least not officially. The conference was announced as a fully virtual event in March, though at the time, organizers made it clear that they were still hoping to host people at a physical venue if conditions permitted. The event subsequently switched to a hybrid format, with in-person guests required to show proof of vaccination (a mandate in the city of New York) and encouraged — though not required — to wear masks.

“As we saw things kind of ease up a little bit back, I guess this would be April in New York, we felt at that point…we were ready to not only say we wanted to do part of this event live,” says Haber, “but do it in a different way and actually hold the headquarters at an independent venue in New York, really to show solidarity with everything that folks involved in that sphere have been going through.”

While organizers don’t yet know how many of this year’s registrants (who numbered close to 1,000 at the end of last week, an increase over last year’s conference at the same point) will attend the in-person event, Haber says he expects a “vast preponderance” to tune in via Zoom, particularly with the Delta variant keeping case counts high in the U.S. Roughly a week prior to the event, organizers will ask registrants how they plan to attend in order to assess whether they need to limit, or at least stagger, crowds to keep the environment safe — though they don’t anticipate there being enough guests to warrant such considerations.

However people choose to show up, Haber and Abbot Green expect attendance to grow between 10 and 20% from last year, when a total of 1,200 people tuned in (down from close to 2,000 in 2019). A heavy theme given the ongoing pandemic will be “survival,” Haber says — and “not just financial survival, but it’s wellness, and it is career survival.”

Keynote speakers at this year’s conference include SoundExchange CEO Michael Huppe, Recording Academy co-presidents Valeisha Butterfield Jones and Panos A. Panay and, in partnership with the RIAA, singer-songwriter Jimmie Allen, who will sit down for a keynote conversation with Academy of Country Music CEO Damon Whiteside and RIAA vp of artist and industry relations Jackie Jones. Also taking part in this year’s programming will be TikTok head of music Ole Obermann (in conversation with RIAA CEO Mitch Glazier), Roblox vp and head of global music Jon Vlassopulos, Rebel CEO and Lil Nas X manager Adam Leber and singer-songwriter JoJo, who will be on hand to talk about mental health.

This year’s event will also include the Mondo CLE Music & Tech Law Symposium, an all-day entertainment law seminar designed to address some of the recent legal developments affecting the music industry. In collaboration with Harvard Law School’s Recording Artists Project (RAP), the conference will also, for the third year in a row, offer live virtual pro bono sessions for artists with Harvard Law students.

With hopes of holding a more traditional in-person event next year, Haber and Abbot Green say the hybrid Mondo.NYC is nonetheless here to stay for the foreseeable future. For one thing, the virtual format has allowed a substantial number of international professionals to partake in the conference for the first time. “It makes the world a little smaller,” Abbot Green says.

Also likely to continue are the standalone virtual events that Mondo began hosting during the pandemic, around 25 of which they’ve produced this year alone. “It’s no longer five days in the early autumn — it now ends up being a year-round content business,” says Haber, noting the pandemic has changed their business for good. “For us, it’s really a way just to become more of a content presenter, an aggregator and curator, than an event production company…we’ve pivoted our general business model and strategy in that direction.”

Four-day passes to all live and virtual events at Mondo.NYC 2021 are now available at a discounted rate of up to 22% off through Sept. 30, along with a 35% discount for Mondo 2022. Professional pre-registration rates are currently $200 and the student & indie rate is $175.

For more information on this year’s conference, visit Mondo.NYC’s official website.

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