Arts Society & Culture

Veteran concert promoters to speak at UGA Libraries

Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia Libraries and the Terry College of Business will host a question and answer program with Alex Cooley and Peter Conlon, veteran concert promoters and founders of Atlanta’s Music Midtown, on Jan. 15 at 2 p.m. in the auditorium of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries.

Conlon and Cooley will be interviewed by Lisa Love and Tom Beard. Love was formerly with the Georgia Music Hall of Fame and now serves as director of music marketing and development for the state of Georgia. She is also the founding editor of Georgia Music Magazine and is a member of the Country Music Association and the National Association of Recording Industry Professionals. Beard served as deputy assistant to the president under Jimmy Carter and is a longtime personal friend of Conlon and Cooley.

This event, co-hosted by the Georgia Music Foundation and the UGA Music Business Program of the Terry College, is open free to the public. The conversation will be recorded and archived at the University of Georgia’s Special Collections Libraries.

Cooley and Conlon joined forces in 1982 to create Concert/Southern Promotions, one of the country’s top 10 concert promotion firms, producing more than 300 shows per year, including some of the biggest names in the business. They later sold their business to SFX Entertainment, which was subsequently purchased by Clear Channel Media.

In 1994, they created the internationally recognized Music Midtown Festival, which featured both national and up-and-coming artists. The series ended in 2005 but was revived by Conlon in 2011 to enthusiastic response. Both Conlon and Cooley have been inducted into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame.

Cooley attended Georgia State University and the University of Georgia, but his entrepreneurial spirit and a love of music and the arts ultimately led him into the business of concert promotion. Often referred to as the “unofficial mayor of Atlanta music,” Cooley organized the Atlanta International Pop Festival in 1969, held just a month before Woodstock, and the 1970 follow-up festival drew record crowds. Cooley became a fixture in the concert/promotional industry in Georgia and helped to save the Fox Theater from demolition and turned the Roxy and the Tabernacle into music meccas.

Conlon, a 1975 graduate of UGA’s Business School, got his start in the music business while still a student at UGA. Working with the concert committee and the Intrafraternity Council, Conlon applied a business approach to concert promotion and began bringing in national acts like Elton John and the Allman Brothers. After graduation, he obtained an internship with Jimmy Carter’s presidential campaign that turned into a full time job after Carter’s election. Acting as national fundraising director, assistant treasurer of the Presidential Inaugural Committee and special assistant to the administrator of the Small Business Administration for the White House liaison, Conlon traveled around the U.S., making connections that would later help him launch his promotional business.

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