1. In your view, what is the current state of the region’s “Independent Music Industry?”
The people that work hard, network effectively and know the value of helping others are doing well by diversifying into other areas and applying their skills and knowledge to allied industries.
2. What do you think are it’s immediate needs with reference to the areas that you are most familiar with?
There is an element of cronyism, especially in the areas of Jazz where certain cliques have evolved and only seem to help others from within that clique. An emphasis on reaching out to others beyond your normal circle of contacts and perhaps in other styles of music and other parts of the region will help build and share the knowledge that people have battled to build up.
3. As far as the region’s “Independent Music Industry” is concerned, what do you think shows the greatest potential for the next few years?
Small businesses that are able to capitalise on their skills bank to offer a wider range of services to their customers.
4. In recent years, there has been a range of initiatives and projects designed to support the development of music in Birmingham. Can you list 5 projects or initiatives that you think have proved beneficial to the “Independent Music Industry?”
5. Can you list any projects or initiatives that you think have proved “of little use or benefit” to the “Independent Music Industry?”
Gigbeth – too ambitious and too wide in genres to effectively pull in an audience. It was trying to become the Edinburgh Festivals from the start without any evolutionary period. Was it a conference, education project, live music festival or what?
Digital Central – hamstrung from the start by the obligatory waste of time mapping the regions industry. Some initiatives worked well like the venue development scheme, but it needed to be bigger and longer.
Creative Launchpad – I both referred clients to this project and used it myself. The information is public domain and not particularly well explained or collated. It seemed an expensive way to provide advice – a well put together website and helpline would have worked better.
Arts Fest – sold to performers as well worth the opportunity to perform (for free) because of the profile it would lend to their live music product. I’ve yet to hear of anyone securing any useful opportunities as a result of appearing at this festival.
6. With regard to your answers to questions 4 and 5, do you think Birmingham should continue to pursue the idea of more initiatives and projects designed to support the development of music in Birmingham?
The projects all fail in one particular regard – the lack of industry expertise involved at the initial planning stages. Other problems include too much rushing to complete the project as it usually starts late. Lastly, there is never any criteria for success built into these projects.
7. If you could make any changes to, or include any new ideas for, any “strategy for supporting the development of music in Birmingham” what would your top priorities be?
Convene a panel of serious music industry individuals with a track record of activity and success from across the genre and skill spectrum to develop a series of objectives for a long term plan (10-15 years) and a series of projects that can initially support these objectives over the next five years. Then develop a rigourous success criteria and accountability system to ensure that the objectives are met and that the projects deliver what is asked of them.
8. If you were given the task of evaluating whether a project or initiative had been successful, what would you suggest as the best indicators of success, failure, benefit or disaster for the “Independent Music Industry?”
An industry mentor should be assigned to ensure that the objectives of a project were being met and that any benefit occurring can be effectively measured. In the case of failure, an investigation as to why and how best to learn from mistakes, support future action and castigate individuals when failures can be attributed.
9. As far as your knowledge or understanding of the region’s “Independent Music Industry” is concerned, what are it’s greatest strengths, and what are it’s greatest weaknesses?
The legacy of skills and knowledge from decades of music making and production is our greatest strength and these are not being used. The weaknesses are that academics and individuals with a lack of real world experience, second hand knowledge and entrenched positions have the ears of the funders.
10. If you could do anything to “support the development of music in Birmingham” what would you do and why would you choose to do that?
I would establish a committee of music industry local experts to judge who should be awarded direct financial support for music business activity in the region in the form of small grants (£100, £500 and £1000).
Andy Derrick – Independent Music Industry Professional and Blogger
The Music Network was contacted in January 2010 by a group drawn from Birmingham City Council and the Arts Council England to begin to determine an overview of the current state, needs and potential of the “Independent Music Industry” in Birmingham.
The Music Network invites people with an interest or active role within Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry to answer 10 questions. If you wish to get involved read 10 Questions for Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry and send your completed responses by January 24th 2010 by email to: info at birminghammusicnetwork.com – Thank You.
All completed questions will be published here unless you state otherwise. Please be sure to include your full Name and any links to your website or blog so you can be credited in full as the author of the response. Views from all sides are sought so don’t be afraid to speak your mind. We all may learn something.