“This is the start of a new chapter of new Greater Manchester music!” Mayor of Greater Manchester Andy Burnham exclaimed to a glitzy conference room in The Midland Hotel on day 1 of Beyond The Music.
Flanking him were Sarah Pearson, Oli Wilson and Rose Marley, the co-founders of Manchester’s newest music conference. The excitement was palpable, as Andy Burnham explained he’d be working with the co-founders closely to make Beyond The Music a fixture in the city.
The co-founders also explained that Beyond The Music will be a cooperative venture, meaning that attendees can sign up and have their say in the direction and talking points of future events.
After a rousing entrance, the conference kicked off with some star-studded names in tow. Keep scrolling to find out more.
Manchester’s legends have a lot of knowledge to pass on
Beyond The Music is all about the next generation. However, for the first night of the conference, the focus was on Manchester’s past. Enter a star-studded line-up: Rowetta, Gerald Simpson, Clint Boon, Kermit, Karen Boardman, Martin Moscrop, Graeme Massey, Mike Pickering and Sylvia Tella.
Rowetta stressed that young women can be successful, while Simpson and Pickering spoke about the virtues of staying independent. Elsewhere, Karen Boardman advocated for a strong musical infrastructure. The discussion covered mental health, substance issues, owning your music and the differences in how the UK and French governments treat their musicians. UK Rap star Aitch then took to the stage, comparing his experiences with his musical predecessors.
Laughs, jokes and anecdotes peppered the discussion. While the talk didn’t always stick to the script, we left with a feeling that the next few days would be fruitful. And after all, what would a conference like this be without some of the renegade spirit that typifies the music of Manchester?
The conference has strong backing and seeks to bridge a gap
Thursday saw us up bright and early for a discussion between NQ’s Michael Adex and industry legend Keith Harris OBE.
But first, an introduction from Manchester City Council’s Bev Craig, who issued a passionate show of support for the conference.
Then, it was over to Adex and Harris. We learned about their backstories, with the two speaking about the similarities and differences in managing artists across the generations.
Adex felt that the avenues were clearer in Harris’s day: radio, record labels and live music. But now, he feels that social media platforms expose consumers to more content from which artists can build communities.
However, Adex was keen to point out that the fundamentals between the two generations are the same. So, he’s doing things in his own way. This was an insightful conversation which bridged the gap between two generations of industry heavyweights.
Using social media to form communities can go a long way
Up next was ‘S.O.S: Re-Thinking The Economics of Music’. Here, Corey Johnson, Hannah Overton, Vishal Ramakrishnan and Nadia Khan spoke about creating income for independent artists, achieving a sustainable career, the impact of Brexit on touring and more.
But the thing we thought was most interesting?
Ramakrishnan’s comments regarding social media. He told the audience that it’s better to engage with music commentators and communities that align with an artist’s output and have a following, as opposed to chasing viral moments.
It’s something that applies to promoters and event brands, too. Seeking out like-minded people can bring new eyes to what you’re doing. That’s much more sustainable than trying to chase a viral moment, which might not do anything for your brand or event after the fact.
2024’s Independent Venue Week will be one to remember
Then, it was a journey to Rebellion for the launch of Independent Venue Week 2024. This was special. It’s the first time IVW has been launched outside London, and 6Music’s Huw Stephens was on hand to present the launch.
We heard interviews with IVW’s founder Sybil Bell, Operations Manager Erin Gibson, BBC Introducing’s Kelly Betts and the venue managers at YES and Rebellion.
But what did we learn?
Well, over 110 venues have signed up for IVW and the team hired Sound Connection to find out how the team could improve the event, ensuring that IVW would “be around for the next ten years”.
We also learned that lVW will be asking venues who’ve signed up to donate 50p per capacity, which will go back into IWV to make future editions even better.
Plus, 42% of venues who’ve signed up are from the North West, North East and Yorkshire, showing that there is a real commitment to preserving the health of musical and cultural institutions outside of the capital.
The whole industry needs to come together to achieve sustainability
We made the trip back to Manchester Central for ‘Green Summit: Net Zero by 2050? Moving Forward Music’s Sustainability Revolution’.
Here, we heard insights from Beggars Group’s Ian Stanton, Anjuna Beats’ Anna Johnson, EarthPercent’s Joel Gardner and AIM’s Silvia Montello. They spoke on the differences between the industry’s attitudes to climate change from past to present, finding the ways in which the supply chain can become more sustainable and the Music Climate Pact.
However, the words of A Greener Future’s Claire O’Neil resonated the most with us. She told us how AGF has been looking at how they can reduce the impact of carbon emissions on tours, but both the live and recorded sides have to come together for it to work.
Claire stressed that the government have to facilitate the policies that will help us to manage the climate, urging people to vote and take action now. Her words “don’t wait to be perfect” struck a chord with us, the room and her fellow speakers.
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