The Date: Feb. 20, 2007
The Venue: Strata
The Bar: Open bar stocked with a buffet of spirits to choose from
The Crowd: The Fast Company crew, music-industry folk, advertisers and NYU students lucky enough to have a professor on the panel
It's Fat Tuesday. How could Freeloader resist a chance to stuff free canapes into our mouth and guzzle gratis hooch? Oh yeah, and see John Legend?
Fast Company's "Backstage with John Legend" event combined business and musical pleasure at Strata with music execs hobnobbing with the media and the occasional college student over pinot noir and chicken on a stick.
Drinks were overflowing at the bar. Bartenders popped endless corks and Heineken caps without breaking a sweat. Kanye West and John Legend, of course, echoed throughout the venue harmonizing with the occasional shatter of a wine glass.
People seemed to be taking the spirit of the day in stride, exhibiting an eager excitement over the food: mini pizza slices, seafood and cheese balls, fried dumplings and chicken pot stickers. The black-clad waiters could not get 10 feet from the kitchen without a swarm of hungry fingers attacking their trays. Even the by-standing Freeloader was mistaken for a food-donning server for sporting a black shirt.
With all the schmoozing in the room, this wasn't a Mardi Gras celebration. Everyone was there to talk business -- the music business.
MusicToday.com CEO Nathan Hubbard, Jorge Just (Ok Go's resident web man), David Walter (VP-A&R for Capitol), Jason King (music journalist and associate chair of the Clive Davis Department of Recorded Music) and John Legend talked about how an artist can form a bond with fans and still survive in the industry. Legend said he'd make the music he wanted but "still have to decide which is the best way to market it to people."
Even though John (yes, we are now on a first-name basis) couldn't serenade the crowd that night, free pot stickers and digital pics of the Grammy winner left Freeloader fat and happy.