In 1980, Mark Josephson and, Danny Heaps’ Rockpool joined forces with Dance Music Report, the most important newsletter for DJs at the time, to launch the New Music Seminar. The NMS as it became known as served as a catalyst for change in what was then a stagnant music industry. Mark, Danny, Dance Music Report’s Scott Anderson and publicist David Salidor were the original partners at the launch.
The first New Music Seminar was held on Bastille Day, July 14, 1980 at the same time as the well-established institution, The Billboard Disco Forum. It was a one-day event at a rehearsal studio (SIR Studios) a block away from the Hilton where the Disco Forum was being held.
“Essentially we began the event as a way to generate attention for the newer music and voices coming out. The other event wouldn’t take us as seriously as they should have,” adds Salidor. “Several years later, that other event was no more.”
The following year the other partners dropped out and Tom Silverman and Joel Webber joined Mark as partners. NMS wasn’t just about dance music; it was about everything in the music business as seen from the perspective of the DJ. Within six years, it became the world’s biggest and most important music conference.
Mark’s support of the musical fringes and the underdogs helped lead NMS to champion the spread of new genres like hip hop, house music, and early NY performances from radical new artists from Nirvana to Afrika Bambaataa and the Soulsonic Force to Dave Matthews.
NMS keynote speeches pushed change agendas from ending apartheid to stopping music censorship with a Frank Zappa keynote.
Says Salidor, “I always respected and watched the influence Rockpool would wield in the constantly changing music genre of the day. Whether it was Kid Creole & The Coconuts, or Was (Not Was) Rockpool would be at the forefront of getting the music heard.”
Much of the spirit of Rockpool and NMS are due to the vision of Mark Josephson. He was the doorway for many young aspiring music executives and entrepreneurs. He challenged authority and paved the way for a better music industry. He will be missed.
(top photo: Mark Josephson)