Changes are on the horizon for a staple in the hip-hop community.
A3C, the popular Atlanta based music conference, today announced major investments by two of the city’s tech pioneers.
Ryan Wilson, co-founder and CEO of the Gathering Spot and Paul Judge, founding partner of Atlanta’s Tech Square Labs and Paul Judge Media Group have invested an undisclosed amount in the conference, giving them both controlling stakes in the event. Mike Walbert, A3C’s managing director and former majority owner, will stay on in his current role.
Judge and Wilson will expand the conference to incorporate more programming to cover issues in technology from leaders in the space and will enhance the startup element that was introduced at this year’s conference. This year the conference included programming that highlighted different companies and had mentorship training from other entrepreneurs.
“Atlanta’s influence is felt everywhere. We have an authentic, powerful convergence of culture, music, technology & entrepreneurship,” said Judge. “A3C is the event that will bring these diverse communities together for inspiration and innovation. We invite the world to come experience the magic of Atlanta and see what’s next.”
Wilson and Judge will also incorporate film, TV, and gaming into the event as well.
For over 10 years, A3C has been known for attracting popular artists like J Cole, Nas, and Lil Wayne. But Walbert tells AfroTech that even though the conference is primarily known for its music programming, entrepreneurship has always been at the core of what they do.
“Below the surface of music we’ve been an entrepreneurship conference,” Walbert said. “At the root of it there’s an entrepreneurial angle. And what excites me is working with two folks who have been entrepreneurs themselves.”
The investment from Judge and Wilson makes a lot of sense. Both are big players in Atlanta’s technology and startup scene. Judge’s Tech Square Labs is a seed stage investing fund in Atlanta that has a portfolio of 28 companies and has raised over $300 million. Wilson’s Gathering Spot is one of the premiere places for young professionalisms, creators, and entrepreneurs to meet and network. Their dual experience launching companies, along with A3C’s ingrained and engaged community, could turn the conference into a major player in technology and innovation moving forward.
“A lot of the ways we build community is through experiences,” Wilson told AfroTech. “What’s consistent between us and A3C is it’s a community building experience and that’s what we do.”
It’s no secret that technology is becoming a huge part of the way we listen to, distribute, and talk about music. Atlanta-based companies like The Labz are using blockchain to transform the way we think about copyright issues and startups like Plug are shifting the way we think about how artists share their music. With Judge’s expertise and experience in technology and entrepreneurship now in the mix, we could see more programming around that very thought.
“You can’t really talk about music or entertainment or TV or film without talking about technology,” Walbert said. “The way music is created, shared, discovered, monetized — every ounce of that has elements and is transformed by technology. To be in the music business is to be in the tech industry.”
We don’t know exactly what A3C will look like with the addition of Judge and Wilson, but if their past ventures are any indication, conference-goers should be in for an exciting experience. This is the event’s 15th year and Walbert thinks Judge and Wilson can help lead A3C into the future.
“While we’re proud of what we’ve built, this anniversary is the perfect time to bring on partners who can help take A3C to the next level. In Ryan Wilson and Paul Judge we’ve found two innovative, local entrepreneurs that share our passion for creating communities, providing opportunities for entrepreneurs and showcasing Atlanta’s leading influence on the culture.”