Tag: 10 answers

10 Questions for Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry answered by Ben Calvert

1. In your view, what is the current state of the region’s “Independent Music Industry?”

There are a small percentage of clued up people, building local, national and international networks, in order to create and market music in the face of adversity.

2. What do you think are it’s immediate needs with reference to the areas that you are most familiar with?

To create sustainable, (ie NOT an acoustic night every night of the week in every pub), live music events where the acts, promoters, and venues all benefit equally in terms of financial remuneration, (pay), and where new audiences are developed.

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?

Strong, trusting networks that work via the “You scratch my back and I’ll scratch your’s” theory.

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?”

Creative Pathways showed some potential. As someone who helped run a course under it’s umbrella, I might be biased! However, I’ve recently met people who went on the course, and they have developed as working musicians as a result of it, benefiting from modules on Self-Promotion using New Media, and Recording Techniques.

5. Can you list any projects or initiatives that you think have proved “of little use or benefit” to the “Independent Music Industry?”

Gigbeth – At the first one, at the opening ceremony, there were more people in the form of the band, the staff and security than there were in the audience. Many of the stewards were from London, so they had no local knowledge to help people get from one stage to another etc.

ArtsFest – There’s always a huge song and dance about how it’s Britain’s biggest festival. Is biggest best? There is a patronizing assumption that from the start of the booking procedure that acts will play for free, (payment or non-payment is never mentioned at all). If the event is meant to be for the benefit of artists, then how about sending out well-designed, well-branded press pack to relevant industry people?

The publicity for ArtsFest is shocking-The website held info for the 2008 event until a WEEK before the 2009 event. And the design elements-They use Clip Art!!!!! For the biggest festival in the UK…

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?

Yes, definitely. But Birmingham City Council should identify and consult music event organisers to run the events who have proven experience in booking artists, designing and distribution of publicity, dealing with venues and everything that goes with running events.  Or at least, they should work in conjunction with them, employing them as well-paid consultants.

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?

With regards to festivals like ArtsFest, my suggestion would be:

Contact The Drum, Capsule, Bohemian Jukebox, The Other Woman’s Club, Moseley Folk Festival, leftfoot, Birmingham Promoters and Seven Inch Cinema, and identify some others. Give each a budget to run a stage. Between them they have the experience and know-how to make it work.

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?”

Did the project improve the long-term earning capability of the artists involved?
Were audiences introduced to art that they would not have usually encountered?
Did people walk away with enriched souls?
Was art of a high standard created?

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 strengths are that there are some truly amazing bands. The weakness is that the bands are often self-deprecating (A Birmingham ‘tradition’), dis-organised and unable to understand the theory of supply and demand for their music.

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 ran 180 live Post-folk, Anti-Folk, and Alt-Folk music events between October 2003 and January 2010. (Bohemian Jukebox). I thought that might be enough to support the development of a certain type of music in Birmingham, and it was for a while.

I chose to do that because there was a need for well-organised music events for acts playing those genres.

I’m now concentrating on Bohemian Jukebox Recordings to bring some of Birmingham’s music talents to an international audience. I’ve chosen to do that, as I’d now rather concentrate on developing a few acts of quality via the power of recorded media, rather than dealing with lots of acts in the context of live music events.

Ben Calvert

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.

Simon Howes has created an easy to use google survey for these questions here too.

All completed questions will be published here unless you state otherwise. Please be sure to include your full Name, brief biography or information about who you are and what you do, 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 may learn something.

10 Questions for Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry answered by Andy Roberts

1. In your view, what is the current state of the region’s “Independent Music Industry?”

Great pool of talent with extremely creative people working very hard to make amazing music and projects with little recognition from outside of their small pockets.

2. What do you think are it’s immediate needs with reference to the areas that you are most familiar with?

Record labels that have competent distribution and marketing / advertising / plugging support.

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?

Hopefully labels such as Bigger Than Barry Records, Ondryland, Speech Fewapy Records, and any other small labels that are nurturing local talent and managing to sustain themselves

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?”

Not sure if these count but the work of:

Bigger Than Barry for bringing cutting edge, fashionable acts to the city and taking Birmingham on tour. Also packing out every event they promote.

This is Tommorrow for putting on shows for alternative acts that are touring nationally and billing local artists with them to help nurture audiences

The Rainbow Pub for giving Birmingham a quality small and mid size independent venue and cultural hub.?Capsule for offering a vibrant, left field alternative brand of events and Supersonic.

Moseley Folk Festival for being generally ace and offering local acts a channel to perform on the same bill as mainstream artists, especially Ben Calvert’s Bohemian Jukebox Stage.

Also Oxjam Festival, Cold Rice and Chicks Dig Jerks deserve mentions.

5. Can you list any projects or initiatives that you think have proved “of little use or benefit” to the “Independent Music Industry?”

Gigbeth – poorly curated. For something as ambitious and potentially amazing, it falls flat due to weak line ups. Does not give a good impression of Birmingham to the outside looking in, especially when Camden Crawl, Nottingham’s Dot to Dot, Brighton’s Great Escape and Manchester’s In The City are widely commended.?Give Bigger Than Barry, Chicks Dig Jerks, This is Tomorrow, Moseley Folk, Cold Rice and Capsule a budget to put on the festival – they are all experienced and have kudos.?(I realise that there are more promoters / events companies doing fine work in other genres, but these are the ones I am familiar with)

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?

Yes, but re: point 5 give it to people who can make the city desirable, dare I say ‘cool’?

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?

Support for small independent record labels in the form of advice from experienced and respected mentors from their respective genres.

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?”

Whether an event is well attended or not is a signal of success or failure and whether a record label could sustain itself would be a measure.

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 artists are the greatest strength we have.
Perhaps weaknesses are a lack of direction or focus from these talented individuals due to a lack of support from a local ‘industry’.

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?

Plug alert: I try to by shouting about the bands and promoters that I love in national press (The Fly) and my local Blue

Whale music blog. So anything involving writing.

Andy Roberts 

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.

Simon Howes has created an easy to use google survey for these questions here too.

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 may learn something.

10 Questions for Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry answered by Pam Bishop

1. In your view, what is the current state of the region’s “Independent Music Industry?”

Currently it seems to attract people who use a lot of sound engineering with their music – we don’t hear so much about the natural sounds of singers and musicians.
2. What do you think are it’s immediate needs with reference to the areas that you are most familiar with?

Lack of good venues.  Singers and musicians need good venues to perform, which are easy for their audiences to get to, and comfortable for both performers and audience.  Since the demise of pub rooms, such venues are more and more difficult to find.
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?

Getting children involved in music and singing – these will be the musicians of the future

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?”

Sound It Out
Gigbeth
Sing Up (CBSO)
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?

Yes please, more Sing Up projects would be great

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?

Training for teachers so they are more confident in delivering music and singing in their schools.  Giving them resources so they can bring musicians and singers into schools.

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?”

Has the project raised skills levels amongst its participants?
Has it increased audience participation?

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?

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?

Continue to run folk music events and training, because our traditional music and song is valuable and relevant to people in the 21st century

Pam Bishop

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.

Simon Howes has created an easy to use google survey for these questions here too.

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 may learn something.

10 Questions for Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry answered by Jon Cotton

1. In your view, what is the current state of the region’s “Independent Music Industry?”

The number of people actually making a decent living out of music remains really quite small.  In the recording world there remains a pretty tiny circle of people doing anything on more than a local ‘people having a go’ level.  And those working nationally continue to interface with (and sometimes move to) london as that is where the power brokers remain.   So in that respect we remain a nursery for London; there have been no city or AWM lead infrastructure changes in the last 10 years I’m aware of that make any difference in helping stop this ‘talent leakage’.

We’ve also recently lost our flagship studio DEP – although it could be argued the role of the big expensive studio is becoming limited to specific niches (e.g. orchestral work, something DEP wasn’t really big enough to do).    Meanwhile the market we’re selling to has been shrinking as recorded music becomes relatively less important to Jo public (and kids get used to stealing it) – record shops have dwindled with the loss locally of Jibbering, Tower, Zavvi and most recently Borders.  Swordfish was a depressing place last time I popped in (it seemed to be on its last legs) which leaves just HMV and the few remaining struggling independents as the real contenders on the high street.

So all a bit depressing at first glance. However there are a couple of glimpses of light – the net has made it a lot easier to release and distribute music without the help of bigger labels (of which there remain none represented in the midlands) so independent labels are starting to pop up more frequently in the region – artists are becoming their own labels – although actually cutting through the market noise remains to some extent a question of contacts and financial firepower, most of which powerbroking is done in London.   With the continued rise in home recording this means artists are frequently recording and releasing themselves.  Great if it works (although how many of them even break even is dubious given how crowded the market is) but pretty daunting too.   Without a doubt the shrewd sub-sector to be in currently is support services for these artists – look at how well eMusu and Ditto have done for example.

On the live side: the demise of the Jug of Ale was a shame as, sweaty and loud though it was, it was a great breeding ground for young bands and a good place to see them.  However offsetting that, the reopened Town Hall has been a great success and should be a point of pride.  I think it’s great that the team there are programming so many local artists and are really putting a lot of vigour into their support.  All power to them.

Realistically, prospects for graduates finding employment in the sector remain pretty awful compared to most other industries, but I find the degree of entrepreneurism at the moment encouraging and there is some new recording blood coming through from the colleges with the kind of high standards we need, which is great.  The old model really truly is dead, time to move on.

2. What do you think are it’s immediate needs with reference to the areas that you are most familiar with?

I think continuation and expansion of funding for assisting entrepreneurs is the way to go now, rather than grand schemes which don’t seem to ever get off the ground – best to accept that and work with it, and instead help provide SMEs individually with better tools to do it for themselves.

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?

1. Entrepreneurism

2. The shaking off of the ancient regime, and no-longer-relevant ways of thinking.  (Rock n roll is dead, Geek n Roll is here..)

3. A new era of independent record labels and whatever replaces record labels, companies facilitating the use of music with other media (shameless plug: at Poseidon we’re playing with a model for that, see www.poseidonmusic.com)

4. New blood in the recording and writing worlds.

5. The internet, and companies that spring up using it i.e. are not tied to doing business in the Midlands.

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?”

1. “Creative Cities'” funding for start-up costs/rent

2. Midem subsidy, SXSW subsidy – Jonathan Webber and UKTI’s help in general (although more people could know about it).

3. John Mostyn’s managing music course.   Someone with experience teaching – and it directly helped some clients of mine who went on to noteable success.

4. Birmingham Music Network – the original Mark Sampson led meetings, not the pointless watered-down car-crash based in Northfield someone dreamt up.  I have great respect for Mark for sticking with it, (although – constructive criticism only – I wish he would keep his own business activities clear of the BMN mailing list, as it waters down its usefulness).  One day I’ll make it to another of the meetings!

5. Gigbeth.  Everyone’s always ripping into Gigbeth, but few realise that Clare Edwards funded a lot of it herself and took quite a hit on it last year.  As for the festival itself, it may have been on a learning curve, but at least it was energy being put in the right direction.  I hope we see a lot more of that energy from Clare, who is a great asset to the city, and she isn’t put off permanently by the last one.

5. Can you list any projects or initiatives that you think have proved “of little use or benefit” to the “Independent Music Industry?”

Well I don’t want to dwell on negatives really but if we learn from them then ok..

1. ‘Mentors’ that have no real experience to speak of.  The blind leading the blind.

2. Digital Central.  I like Anthony who was leading it, and this was well meaning, but he was hampered by having to deal with a PC agenda which made no sense in the real world: DC was a great example of a council project which ticks everyone’s boxes except the actual industry who just went ‘what the heck is that?’ and ignored it as far as I’m aware.  A bit like Millennium Point..

3. AWM capital funding.  As far as I know no-one except the Black Voices ever saw any of the mooted money available in the early noughties, despite so many people putting forward seemingly good ideas.  Likewise the lack of progress in Eastside/Digbeth.  Just terrible..

4. The CD on the cover of Music Week.  I loved the energy behind this idea but in retrospect perhaps the strategy should have been thought through a little more, as a single exposure to an act/song is not enough, it needs to be followed through. There should perhaps have been consultation with some of the current players once the idea was mooted before proceeding, and perhaps we could have worked out a 2 or 3 step strategy which would have had more effect than this one single action. The right *kind* of idea though, definitely – let’s just work together a bit more next time.

5. Mapping exercises!  Personally I think we need to map all the mapping exercises there have been.  www.mappingcentral.com is available!.. ;-)
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?

Yes.

At Poseidon we have found the support from UKTI and the Creative Cities teams to date great, and it would be good to see that continued, possibly expanded and better advertised – perhaps a sub-section billed as support for Music rather than just ‘creative companies’ so people realise it applied to them!   A lot of people I deal with still don’t know such financial and expertise support is out there for them, it would be good if the council could do a mailout to all music-related SMEs advertising some of these schemes.   The recent subsided trips to MIDEM and SXSW are a great move, long may they continue.

In a similar vein I was greatly encouraged to see the council finally supporting niche music festivals last week.  A great move as they are a little Unique Selling Point we can really push for Brum, and we so need to focus on those.   A lot of London people don’t believe me when I’ve mentioned the billing for the Moseley folk festival last year..

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 think it would be good to stop throwing money at ‘grand’ schemes like Digital Central and Birminghamusic.com which just suck up money but make little real difference on the ground.  Let’s also forget about there being a music agency.  The money is better spent on a healthy pragmatic alternative – to go round SMEs, ask what their biggest obstacles to growth financially are and try and address them head-on.  It’s great that there has been council support for moving into new premises, getting stationery and websites made etc, but there are other bigger obstacles in the way we could address.

Some ideas might be:

1. A contribution towards a publicity budget for acts or labels that can prove a fanbase/degree of interest (to be judged by someone who understands the industry) – for independent artists and labels PR is becoming by far the biggest expense/barrier to exposure.

2. A contribution towards touring costs for live acts – e.g. to fund the purchase of a van, or contribute towards ongoing costs (since touring tends to be lossmaking in the early days).

3. A bulk deal with a really good mastering studio (there still isn’t on in the midlands) to bring up the quality control locally.  The council could use its purchasing power to negotiate a bulk-buy discount for album mastering with a mastering studio or two, and pass that saving onto people.

4. Likewise for CD duplication with someone like Sony. The council wouldn’t even need to subsidise that directly – simply do a massive bulk-buy of packages of 1000/2000/3000 CD runs at a big discount, and pass that discount on to acts in the region.  I realise the ‘state-aid’ rules may kick in here, so this would have to be checked, but it’s important to be aggressive and try and push the boundaries – if we can support music businesses here in ways other regions haven’t thought of we’ll give people a natural head-start.

4. A contribution towards video-making costs / hiring personnel – as music’s home is increasingly Youtube now, so videos are increasing in importance to the point of being obligatory.

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?”

A good question..in an industry where there remains such a big risk element, it’s hard to judge purely from year on year financials, as some of the projects might have been successful purely by increasing the *chance* that a project or artist might succeed, or by increasing public awareness without leading immediately to sales.  So as well as the usual financial analysis, perhaps:

1. Amount of press coverage/radio plays before/after (for acts/labels, if the council were to help subsidise PR for example).

2. Number of CDs sold before/after.

3. Mailing list figures for artists before/after (mailing lists are becoming a good yardstick for a band’s popularity)

4, Youtube hits before/after

Also we should stop asking artists to complete 3/4/5 year cashflow forecasts – it’s meaningless in this 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?

Strengths:

1. Entrepreneurism.

2. People from all over the country and the world convene here.

3. As a city we are often smart but unpretentious (that’s what drew me here in the first place)

4. We don’t have such an aggressive/cut-throat culture as London, so tend to work together more (when we know about each other..)

Weaknesses:

1. We still often don’t know about each other..

2. Birmingham as a whole has a history of aiming too low.  E.g. talk from a while back of replicating London Eye in Brum.  Rather than replicate or aim to be ‘as good as’ we need to have the confidence to innovate and lead nationally and globally

3. Previous infighting for the little bit of power available here.  Hopefully new blood and energy, awareness that it stops us all progressing, and the declining relevance of some of the old ways of doing things will sweep this away.

4. There aren’t enough trees and green bits in the centre of Birmingham (ok that’s  seemingly completely irrelevant but it contributes to stopping people wanting to come here, and that includes music collaborators/colleagues). Sort out the greenery!

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?

1. I’d make the salaries of the key managers at AWM performance-related so that keeping risk low/maintaining the status quo stops being the most attractive alternative

2. If the above had happened, I’d employ someone with real industry experience to work outside of AWM and look at capital projects AND FACILITATE THEM by brokering deals with the various possible stakeholders in the region to make capital projects more likely to succeeed.

3. I’d employ one or two people within the council to directly manage and co-ordinate music-specific initiatives and subsidy.

4. I’d make a little committee of industry people round here who could help advise the council on strategy when it comes to ideas like the Music Week CD.

5. I’d support Birmingham Music Network properly, and give them some funding to better advertise, and I’d ask Mark if he’d be prepared for the BMN after-meeting minutes to become effectively our industry newletter, letting us all learn about each other’s existence (this remains a big stumbling block).   This would also be a great forum for the council, business link, AWM etc to let us all know about funding/subsidies available for supporting SMEs.

6. I’d take a lenient view on licensing applications for live music in and above pubs and bars in the city.  We need to encourage it, and to some extent ignore the NIMBYs (I’m specifically thinking of the Rainbow and the room above the Fighting Cocks in Moseley as examples).

Jon Cotton
http://www.poseidonmusic.com

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.

Simon Howes has created an easy to use google survey for these questions here too.

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 may learn something.

10 Questions for Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry answered by Keisha Thompson

1. In your view, what is the current state of the region’s “Independent Music Industry?”

I think a lot of people are out there making moves and looking for ways to do what they do and avenues to progress. It’s happening in clusters, niches and apparently “underground” There doesn’t appear to be many linkages in the regions Independent Music Industry and limited advice and support.

2. What do you think are it’s immediate needs with reference to the areas that you are most familiar with?

Immediate needs for the the regions Independent Music Industry are

•    Consolidation/better links with each other
•    Advisory support
•    Practical initiatives

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?

Greatest potential is the people who are in the industry and continuing to follow the passion, music and buzz inside of us to create the outcomes we want. Anything is possible, it just takes time, commitment and the willingness to work with each other to do so. Having access to knowledge, expertise, resources and finances makes it a whole lot easier.

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?”

I wish I knew what they were! I know of Gigbeth… oh and of course THE BIRMINGHAM MUSIC NETWORK, oh and Barry Tomes Music Business classes

5. Can you list any projects or initiatives that you think have proved “of little use or benefit” to the “Independent Music Industry?”

Hmmm, not sure. It’s a difficult question with various factors. i.e. Barry Tome’s music businesses classes were ok but not very fluid and I didn’t benefit immensely, but it gave me a brief overview. If I had been at a further stage in my music, I might have benefited more.

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?

YES YES YES! And PROMOTE THEM WELL

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?

•    Developing personal music strategies for artists (guidelines and possible options for musical pursuits (Coaching/mentor support)
•    Regular informative events targeting specific groups within music. E.g. in the same way that Creative Networks has monthly speakers, having a similar project or series of courses where artists/bands can learn a particular music processes. E.g. 2 “Creating your own CD” on a weekly/fortnightly basis over a period of 2/3 months – introducing experts on each stage per week. This could be followed by other relative courses.
•    Trips to national/international seminars and events (subsidised)

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?”

•    What positive and progressive changes have been made as a result
•    Is there any tangible evidence?
•    Have the people involved got out of it what they intended and expected to.
•    Really and truly the outcomes need to be set in the first instance and evaluated according to the aims and outcomes of the projects/initiatives

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?

STRENGTHS

•    Committed and Passionate people
•    Good foundations and expertise within the region
•    Lots and various talents/skills

WEAKNESSES

•    Fragmented
•    Need collective and collaborative support
•    No central venue/organisation
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 will continue to create musically and collaborate with a variety of artistic, technical and management and promotional expertise in efforts to keep the positivity and creativity thriving in this city holding much potential. My reason for doing this is to use my strengths to contribute in the development of Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry.

Thank you, Keisha Thompson.

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.

Simon Howes has also created an easy to use google survey for these questions here too.

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.

10 Questions for Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry answered by Rob Horrocks

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?”

http://www.Birminghamusic.com

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?

Strengths
Heritage
The diverse population
Geographical location
Talent

Weaknesses

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.

Rob Horrocks

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.

Simon Howes has also created an easy to use google survey for these questions here too.

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.

10 Questions for Birmingham’s Independent Music Industry answered by Andy Derrick

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?”

No

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
www.andyderrick.co.uk

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.

Simon Howes has also created an easy to use google survey for these questions here too.

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.