Pop Conference

A melting pot for fans, musicians, scholars, and journalists.

  1. Moderator Ann Powers (NPR Music) explored the role of voice in music with singers Merrill Garbus, Valerie June, and k.d. lang at the Pop Conference keynote panel.

    Photo by Brady Harvey.

  2. Participants shared personal reflections and wrestled with artists' legacies at a special "In Memoriam" panel, organized in tribute to recently passed artists including Natalie Cole, David Bowie, Lemmy Kilmister, and others.

    Photo by Nat Seymour.

  3. Sonic Boom took the winning title against teams from Everyday Music, Spin Cycle, and Easy Street at EMP's first-ever Record Store Showdown, where a few of Seattle's independent record stores put their encyclopedic knowledge of music to the test.

    Photo by Brady Harvey.

The annual EMP Pop Conference, first held in 2002, mixes together ambitious music writing of every kind, in an attempt to bring academics, critics, musicians, and dedicated fans into a collective conversation.

Save the Date

Thanks to all who attended and presented! Next year's EMP Pop Conference will be held from April 20–23, 2017, at EMP Museum. The call for proposals  for that gathering will be posted here in August.

Eric Weisbard
Pop Conference organizer
University of Alabama

View the Pop Conference 2016 schedule & directory »

Program Committee Members

Christine Bacareza Balance (University of California, Irvine), María Elena Cepeda (Williams College), Jasen Emmons (EMP Museum), Jack Halberstam (University of Southern California), journalist Jewly Hight, Mark Katz (University of North Carolina),Chris Molanphy (Slate), Charles Mudede (The Stranger), Ann Powers (NPR Music), Zandria Robinson (Rhodes College), Steve Waksman (Smith College)


  • 2013 EMP Pop Conference
  • 2014 EMP Pop Conference
  • 2015 EMP Pop Conference

About the Conference

The conference was held at EMP from 2002–2010, then traveled to UCLA in 2011; NYU in 2012; and simultaneously at USC, NYU, Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and Museum, Tulane University, and EMP in 2013; before returning to EMP as the sole venue in 2014. Three books of conference writing have been published: This Is PopListen Again, and Pop When the World Falls Apart.

Support for the conference is provided by the University of Alabama College of Arts & Sciences, on behalf of the Department of American Studies.

Thank you to our hotel partners: