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Rhiannon Neagle of Echo 2 Locate, performs on the Art Park Stage during opening night of the 11th annual Launch Music Conference & Festival Thursday evening in Lancaster City. Thursday April 25, 2019.

LAUNCH Music Conference & Festival, an event that brings over 100 up-and-coming musical acts to Lancaster city each year, returns to Lancaster city for several nights of panels and concerts this week.

Though the conference usually falls in the spring, COVID-19 concerns shifted the festival to September. (The in-person event was canceled in 2020.)

The event will feature several dozen industry professionals hosting conference panels and 115 total musical acts over the course of four days.

Headliners include Soundcloud rapper Smokepurpp, metal group Ice Nine Kills, local rapper Corey O and metalcore band Currents, among a few others.

“I’ve missed this; I’m thrilled to be back,” says Jeremy Weiss, founder and director of LAUNCH. “A lot of almost-sleepless nights, but the end result … I think it’s worth it.”

Here’s what you should know before going to LAUNCH.

The basics

LAUNCH begins Sept. 9 and runs through Sunday, Sept. 12. It doubles as a music festival and a place where up-and-coming artists can attend professionally led panels about the music industry.

Concertgoers can buy a LAUNCH badge for $70, a VIP badge for $85 or pay per show. Each show for non-badge holders runs from free to $32. Most shows for those with LAUNCH badges are free, though headliner tickets cost up to an additional $20. Shows for VIP badge holders are all free.

Tickets are available at Registration will be at the Holiday Inn in Lancaster city, at 26 E. Chestnut St. Customers can also pick up badges at CI Records, at 112 W. Orange St.

LAUNCH performers will be spread out over five venues, some with more than one stage: Penn Square, King and Queen streets; Holiday Inn, 26 E. Chestnut St.; Binns Park, on Queen St. between Chestnut and Orange streets; Marion Court, 7 E. Marion St. and the Lancaster County Convention Center, 25 S. Queen St.

LAUNCH is held in the fall this year

Traditionally, LAUNCH is held in the spring, but this year it was moved to September because of the pandemic, Weiss says.

“It’s been very different,” Weiss says about organizing the event. Usually, he works on the conference from January to April, Weiss says.

Whether it’s because the event is hosted during a different time of year, or there are new acts brought forth after the pandemic, Weiss says that he got a whole new slate of performers who applied to play in the show.

“We got to dig into some really new names and check out some new sounds from different places,” Weiss says.

COVID-19 protocols

LAUNCH concertgoers are not required to wear masks as a whole. The conference will follow local and state COVID-19 mandates, Weiss says.

“We fervently recommend that you wear a mask, especially if you are unvaccinated or returning home to an at-risk person … but we do not have a mandate,” Weiss says.

There is a limited capacity rule of 50% in place for Lancaster County Convention Center’s Freedom Hall, where the headliners will be performing, Weiss says.

More diversity

Artists performing in LAUNCH this year are more diverse than ever, Weiss says. There’s a mix of rock, hip-hop, hardcore, blues and rap artists across the several-day conference.

Not only is every genre welcomed at LAUNCH, it’s actively pursued, Weiss says.

“Wherever we’re not getting the degree of interest or participation in a genre subset, we actively seek that,” Weiss says.

And Weiss said the diversity is consistent throughout the festival’s five venues.

“If you hit any venue, you’re going to hear something, hopefully, from every kind of genre,” Weiss says.

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