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Music on the Cutting Edge

For the music conference Cutting Edge CE, it’s all about making a deal… and enjoying a free festival simultaneously.

Little Freddie King
Little Freddie King will perform at the upcoming Cutting Edge CE conference.

It’s been 25 years since Eric Cager launched 1992’s Cutting Edge Music Business Conference and Roots Music Gathering, a conference aimed at putting national music professionals and entertainment law experts in contact with the local music community. At the time, Cager recalls, local musicians and those who worked with them often sought legal and other professional assistance from bigger cities like Nashville and Austin, where the infrastructure for music business was generally more developed.

That was 1992. Today, New Orleans ranks No. 1 on lists like Forbes’ tally of the fastest-growing cities since the recession and the country’s top-drawing towns for industries like tech. Our musicians appear regularly in major motion pictures and TV shows. These days, Billboard-charting artists from other cities like Arcade Fire and Dave Grohl and a wide array of filmmakers are coming to New Orleans to soak up the culture in a place where music is sacred.

Participants perform at Howlin’ Wolf during the Cutting Edge CE Conference. (Photo courtesy Vincent Sylvain)

Those changes signal a shift for New Orleans musicians and entertainment professionals, who need to know perhaps more than ever how to leverage interest in their work and other opportunities to their best advantage.

Cager’s Cutting Edge CE conference and festival, which returns to New Orleans’ InterContinental Hotel and various venues on Aug. 23 – 26, is poised to help provide information and networking opportunities for local musicians and industry pros in what’s become a fast-changing environment and economy.

PANELS & Conference

  • This year’s conference sessions include an entertainment law seminar focused on transactional law, with access to MCLE credits for participants.
  • The conference welcomes keynote speaker Thomas Barsoe, Founder and Executive Producer of the Hit Factory, plus a weekend’s worth of panels dealing with hot topics in music business, issues related to film financing and tax credits, discussions on the current state of roots music and more.
  • Cutting Edge CE honors Basin Street Records owner and CEO Marc Samuels with a Lifetime Achievement Award for his tireless work in the New Orleans jazz recording industry.

Special events

  • Conference attendees can check out the latest in audio/visual technology at the Cruisin’ New Orleans Pro Gear Show at the Carver Theater.
  • The event’s Artist Showcase series shines a light on new work within a variety of genres. Showcase performances featuring artists from across the country are spread out nightly at venues including Central City BBQ, Peaches Record Store, house of Blues, Little Gem Saloon, Sidney’s Saloon, the Intercontinental Hotel, the New Orleans Jazz Museum, and Zeitgeist Theater.
  • The NOLA Downtown Music and Arts Festival at Central City BBQ on Aug. 25 and 26 features two stages of performers like Little Freddie King, Lynn Drury, Charlie Wooten and Kenny Neal, plus film screenings.


The 2017 Cutting Edge CE conference offers a closer look at music’s role in film through its film and interactive track panels, highlighting the lives of musicians, and the influence of music on culture. Nightly film screenings will take place at the Zeitgeist Theater (1618 Oretha Castle Haley Blvd.).

An offsite workshop on capturing culture on film, presented by WWOZ FM, is slated for Aug. 25 at 12 p.m. at Central City BBQ (1201 S. Rampart St.).

Editor’s Note: For Cutting Edge CE registration and programming information, visit Please note times, dates and locations are subject to change.

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