Say what you will about the Grateful Dead, but they understood Audience.
From the folks that bought their records to the Dead Heads that followed the band around for 30+ years, The Grateful Dead mastered the art of appealing to their fans and monetizing them, while simultaneously staying true to their music.
I know I did, along with the rest of the attendees who sat in the audience.
Upon entering the Hudson Theater, you could tell that this conference was going to be different. The glamorous history of the theater itself coupled with the fact that we were not forced to wear our pedigree dangling from a lanyard created a feeling swankiness; a feeling one does not typically experience during a conference.
Loren kicked off the event laying the ground rules in the matter in which we've grown to love him: No Wi-Fi, no Twitter, no open laptops, no cell phones, no flash photography — or else.
It was the first time in a long while that I was about to consume conventional, one-way, top-down media and quite frankly, I was concerned that I wouldn't know how to do that any longer.
After listening to the first two speakers, which included Dan Farber and Andrew Keen, I realized what a pleasure it was to just listen and digest. The rest of the speakers that graced the stage of the Hudson Theater were Rachel Marsden, David Binkowski, Joe Jaffe, David Dunne, Jeremy Pepper, Jason Calacanis, Brian Clark, Jeremy Schoemaker, Rae Hoffman, Frank Roche, Melanie Notkin and Ethan Kaplan.
I have seen many of these folks speak before, but somehow they were all different this time. More candid, more raw. It was as if they now had the opportunity to share their story in a way that they couldn't have done before with an audience that somehow mattered more — or at least they all made us feel that way.
Lunch was the gastronomical equivalent to the fare at a high society wedding (or at least a Bar Mitzvah) and the late afternoon was spent enjoying the divine music of Robert Bruce, Jason Liebman, Rachel Platten and Adam & Mia. (Seriously, when was the last time you saw a Harp at a Conference?).
After the conference, many of us shared our thoughts over cocktails at the Millenium Hotel followed by a wonderful dinner at the Roger Smith Hotel.
To those that didn't attend, I understand that there will be some videos released, but not everything. The true essence of what was shared during the Audience Conference shall remain with the folks that attended — as it should.
Until next year, Loren.