1. In your view, what is the current state of the region’s “Independent Music Industry?”
Good. When I recall my gig going of ten years ago compared to what it is now a broad grin creeps across my face. People are talking about the music in this city more than ever and the talent is there.
2. What do you think are it’s immediate needs with reference to the areas that you are most familiar with?
Live booking agents.
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?
I have a lot of time for Marketing Birmingham. They should focus on Marketing Birmingham Music – past and present.
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?”
The Birmingham Music Network
Barry Tomes sessions at the library
UKTI/Business link projects (Sonar visit)
Gigbeth – although not perfect I hate being negative about this and prefer to look at what was good about it. Learning lessons is beneficial.
BCU media and communications course offering a music industry option and the music research climate at BCU generally.
The rise of the Supersonic festival. I do a lot of business at that event as it brings people to the city – agents, journalists, potential fans etc
A quick mention to the Birmingham Music section in Central Library and the excellent resources at the library generally. I spend a lot of time there.
5. Can you list any projects or initiatives that you think have proved “of little use or benefit” to the “Independent Music Industry?”
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?
Having benefited from some of these initiatives my initial answer is yes. Support for the music industry is a developing thing. We have to try new approaches and I give my thoughts on what those approaches might be in answers to later questions.
My alternative answer is that music industries have developed outside of initiatives and funding through the tenacity of the highly motivated and talented individuals who are able to learn, adapt and fight for every success they attain. Sometimes you have to remember that the music industry and the rewards it has brought came about via a messy process of greed, hard work, shady deals, more hard work, broken dreams, unrewarded hard work, nervous breakdowns, bankruptcy, excess and benefit fraud.
I don’t know how helpful this point is but the punk in me wants to be sure someone makes it.
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?
I would focus on projects with tangible outputs.
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?”
Income generation, product, hours of delivery/skills attained, jobs created. If you are evaluating an industry then the indicators must surely be the tangible outputs of that industry.
The intangible outputs – the aspirations raised, the creative climate fostered and the planted seeds are difficult to evaluate and so we must assume that they follow from the outputs which not only can be measured but are the purpose of the industry.
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 diverse population
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?
Grants for venues, individuals, and businesses. Small amounts of money that help people get things set up. I would favour that over projects which try to be high profile. I think the legacy of a small amount of money to someone who works hard and needs a small break could be greater than a big project.
National bodies run initiatives far better than anything that has come from BCC. I have often thought how helpful it would be to get help accessing those schemes. Rather than setting up a new scheme getting help from BCC consultants to access an existing scheme might be a better route.
Tour support grants – record labels support their artists to get out there. Having spent a great deal of my time trying to get my band out of this city I would love to be supported in that endeavour – both getting the gigs in the first place and covering the short fall in the budget.
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 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.