The music industry is by its nature a vast and tangled monster, fraught with the hypocrisy of relying heavily on massive corporate influence and a vehement anti-corporate sentiment in music. For college musicians and music lovers taking their first steps into the fringes of that very monster, the road to even modest success is a rough one with lots of dead ends and no map.

Now in its fifth year, AS Productions’ Pop Music Industry Conference offers networking opportunities and inside knowledge to Bellingham’s aspiring musicians and music industry professionals. This year’s event will be held on Saturday, Feb. 22 in the Viking Union Multi-purpose Room.

“It’s a great chance to learn things that you can’t find in a classroom or even online, to meet and get advice and stories from people who’ve done really cool things with their lives and careers,” said AS Pop Music Coordinator Caitlyn Glinski.

This year, those people include RA Scion [Ryan Abeo] of Seattle hip-hop duo Common Market, Sharlese Metcalf, host of Audioasis on KEXP-FM in Seattle, music columnist at “The Stranger” Trent Moorman and many other producers, musicians and journalists connected to the Pacific Northwest’s music scene.

One of the major additions to the conference for this year is Project Pitch, where attendees have ten minutes to pitch their new project, be it an EP, mix tape, collaboration, bird sounds, etc., to pros from the industry for feedback.

The music industry runs on relationships and on knowing promoters, venue owners, producers and other musicians. With that in mind, the conference includes a Music Industry Expo and networking period designed to give attendees a chance to connect with local businesses, local venues and each other.

“[Networking] is critical… If you have experience that’s great, but the way you get involved is by knowing people, by volunteering your time, and building relationships. It’s not like other jobs where you get your major and you’re set. There is no major for this here, so making connections is huge,” Glinski said.

The keynote speaker for the event is Sean Nelson, best known as the singer of rock outfit Harvey Danger. He’s also worked as co-owner of Barsuk Records and as a writer and editor for “The Stranger.” The day will conclude with a concert featuring some of the conference’s panelists.

Tickets to Pop MIC are $10 for students and $20 for non-students. Registration information can be found at the PopMIC website: golkac.wix.com/aspopmic2014.