Monday, 9 February 2009

Brought to you by the word 'Collectivism' and the number '150'

So I've finally recovered from the two days that made up Unconvention Belfast. It was a very productive and enjoyable couple of days, and something that I would recommend you attending if you ever get the chance, or indeed setting up for yourself in your own town/city/region to promote collectivism and to showcase your scene. I know that the lovely people behind the Belfast UnCon would be happy to help you get started. 

On the Friday, I was part of a panel discussion along with Kev Douche from Big Scary Monsters, Mick Roe from The Richter Collective, Matt Minford from We Collect Records and Michael Fuller from AIM. The topic up for discussion was 'Record Label: Revival or Relic?' The ideas and banter were flowing and everyone had interesting, valid and constructive points to make. It would be terribly naive to suggest life is peachy and that we can all rest on our laurels, which made the panel a good place to share our collective vision of how we see ourselves operating and adapting in the future.

It was a positive and exciting discussion. 360 models were discussed. Greater levels of cooperation and proactivity from artists was presented as an essential component for the modern independent record label succeeding. New and innovative schemes such as co-operative online stores, in-house press, marketing and artist development were suggested and discussed with enthusiasm.  

Some pundits interpreted the whole thing as a band of desperadoes trying to convince not only themselves but the audience that they were still relevant, which I thought to be an unfair opinion when you consider the fact that everyone was realistic about physical sales v illegal downloads, while offering up new and innovative ways of helping your artists develop while continuing the growth of your own brand. 

Friday's participation was rounded off by a speed networking session between various companies and individuals that work on the infrastructural side of the scene. It was great to make the contacts, however five minutes for both parties to put their ideas across just isn't long enough - further contact to be via email this week.

Friday evening was a bit crazy. It all started off relatively civilised with tapas and relaxed networking, but began to spiral out of control quite quickly after the food was consumed. Kev is a maverick who loves whiskey, although I'm a maverick who loves beer and neither of us took much encouragement to buy the other their weapon of choice - we're quite the combination. The Black Box, Duke of York and finally the Premier Inn hotel bar all got hit pretty hard on Friday night/Saturday morning. 

The speed networking session on Saturday morning was interesting to say the least. Not only due to the epic hangover from which I was suffering, but also due to the sheer amount of talent that Northern Ireland is currently producing. I look forward to going through the demos this week. If I spoke with you, I hope what I had to say was of some use to you.

I was also involved in the last panel of the day on Saturday, discussing the subject of 'What's working?' within the scene. I was pretty blunt in my assessment of the task facing artists if they want to be as successful as they possibly can within our little indie world. At least 150 shows over the span of a year to push your record is essential. Pro-activity and clear lines of communication are a must. I raised the point that we signed  And So I Watch You From Afar not only on the strength of their material, but because of their unwavering work ethic and their proactive approach to how they are perceived and marketed. This caused a bit of a debate, but in my experience I'm yet to see anything contrary to this method working. I now fully expect to be proven wrong before the end of the year and for the number 150 to follow me around like my own personal rain cloud.

Next up is Unconvention Manchester - if it's anything like the Belfast leg, it will be essential attendance for any artist or music industry professional. 

1 comment:

Louise said...

In defence of some pundits, as someone sitting in the audience I did feel a panicked vibe running throughout that panel discussion. Which isn't exactly surprising if you consider the uncertain transitory times that you were talking about. But i by no means think you're a bunch of desperados, what you guys do is great. I promise to compose more balanced prose in future :P