About BBC Music Introducing and Amplify
BBC Music Introducing was launched 10 years ago this month, and to celebrate, they launched Amplify. Held earlier this month at ExCel London, Amplify is a weekend-long event that was created for musicians and people looking to work in the music industry.
Through a series of workshops, talks, and even one-on-one feedback opportunities, Amplify provides a chance for aspiring musicians to connect with some of the biggest industry names. This year saw the likes of Annie Mac, Steve Lamacq, Blossoms, and Nina Nesbitt in attendance.
BBC Introducing has helped to launch the careers of artists such as Florence + the Machine and Ed Sheeran. We have also had some great experiences through BBC Introducing as some of you may remember, notably when BBC Three Counties Radio invited us to play live on air. Unsurprisingly, an event like Amplify piqued our interest.
On their website they promise that “Amplify provides a platform for musicians to be bigger, better, louder and more successful than ever, stamping it as a must attend. Get ahead of the game and make your break at Amplify.”
Of course, I had to check out this event to see if it was worth the hype - even if Ella couldn’t be there with me.
I attended Amplify on the Saturday and went to three Industry Sessions, visited many stalls, and finished the day with a talk in the Journey Theatre.
Overall, I had a great time at Amplify and was there for pretty much the entire event. I would recommend this event to people looking to break into the music industry, particularly those who are only just starting their journey. For more information on who attended and a list of the programme, visit www.introducingamplify.com.
Keep reading for talk highlights, stalls I visited, and things I liked and disliked about the event.
ICMP Presents: The Artist’s Journey - Perfecting your release strategy
This talk was given by a panel of industry experts: Will Gresford (Triptik Management), Paul Hitchman (Kobalt Music), and Stacey Tang (Columbia Records). The session was hosted by James Brister from The Institute of Contemporary Music Performance (ICMP).
This was an interesting session, although not quite what I expected. The session title suggested that we would leave knowing the best way to release our music. Of course, this was too good to be true! I got the impression that like myself, many people who attended this session were after more definitive answers, and the panel certainly sensed this.
So what was the take-home message?
Well, there isn’t a “perfect” way to release your music. However, understanding your fans (e.g., by using your data analytics) may help guide the best strategy. Nevertheless, regular releases of singles (rather than albums) seem to be the way for unsigned/ self-released artists.
A Guide to Self-Releasing Your Music - The Ultimate in Unsigned Distribution
Unfortunately, I arrived a little late to this session and ended up standing outside for the first half which meant I couldn't hear much. Luckily, I did eventually get a seat as people started to leave mid talk (!)
This talk was also a panel of industry experts: Ally Mccrae - Manager (Prides, Self distribution artists), James Moodie (The Orchard / Sony Red), James Walsh (Ditto, distributor for Stormzy), Sarah Landy (Kobalt Music), Sophie Little (BBC Radio presenter).
I’m not sure what I was expecting, but similarly to the previous talk I was expecting something a little more definitive despite it being an panel session. I could have actually given this one a miss as I didn’t feel like it was that much different from the previous talk - but I think that was because I didn’t catch much of the beginning.
Sentric Music Presents: How to Land a Sync Deal in Nine Steps
I’ve been interested in sync licensing for the past year or so, and not so much for the money.
I watch a crazy amount of TV and think it would be pretty cool to hear one of our songs playing over a scene of Grey’s Anatomy (or The Vampire Diaries if it was still running)! Or even on an advert - remember Alex Clare who rose to fame with “Too Close” after it appeared on the Internet Explorer advert?
This session was delivered by Simon Pursehouse, Director of Music Services at Sentric Music. This was my favourite talk of the entire day for two reasons:
I finally understood how sync works and how to go about landing a sync deal, and
the session title actually matched the content - bonus!
Before this session, I found it difficult to understand sync licensing and didn’t know where to begin. Simon noted that sync shouldn’t be something that artists focus all their time on, and while I think it would be really cool, it’s not something we’re holding out for.
I could go into more depth about what Simon discussed, but you can find all the information about sync on Sentric’s blog! Check it out here.
The Journey Theatre
Shifting the Gaze: Women in Music Panel
As a woman in music, albeit not an “official” member of the industry, I had high hopes for this panel. The panel was hosted by BBC Radio 1 presenter Adele Roberts, and consisted of Rae Morris, Becca McIntyre (Marmozets), and Jones.
The underrepresentation of women in the music industry, even in 2017, means that we still have and need talks dedicated to “shifting the gaze” towards women. This talk had a lot of potential, but I got the impression the panel were not particularly impressed by its premise.
Roberts’ attempts to steer the panel into talking about their disadvantages and negative experiences in the industry “as girls”, was seemingly met with resistance. The panel initially found it difficult to come up with examples when their gender prevented them from achieving their goals or was met with sexism, within the industry. However, it was interesting to hear about their journey.
I completely empathise with their resistance towards discussing their experiences as “female musicians”, rather than simply musicians. It's an unfortunate consequence of the world we live in. With the terms such as diversity and (under)representation being buzzwords of 2017, perhaps change is coming.
But until then, we are female/ women/ girl musicians.
There were a range of stalls at Amplify, with many familiar names including SoundCloud, Marshall, and Yamaha. For the full list, click here. It was a fantastic opportunity to speak face-to-face with people from companies and charities in the music industry.
I spoke to so many people on the day but I have picked out some of the ones that really stood out to me. I will probably write about some of the services, products, and companies I discovered in future blogs.
Sentric Music is an independent music publisher.
We discovered Sentric through Amplify and signed up straight away when we found out that we could get our songs registered and claim royalties for our gigs and radio play, without having to fork out £100 each on a PRS membership. Their website is really easy to use and they take very good care of their members.
I spoke to Abby at their Amplify stall who was really helpful, and answered a whole bunch of questions I had about their services.
I highly recommend these guys to those of you who are just starting out, particularly if you can't afford a PRS memberships and/or find the world of music publishing, royalty claims, and sync very confusing.
Artists Without A Label (AWAL) is a company that provide digital distribution and label services, and is owned by the Kobalt Music Group.
The services provided by AWAL are quite interesting and I recommend you check out their website or contact them for more information. But what makes AWAL unique is that you have to submit an application to use their services, and not everyone is accepted.
The person I spoke to from AWAL advised that other than having great music, demonstrating that you have established a fan-base is essential to getting your application accepted.
Help Musicians UK
Being a musician and navigating the complex music industry can be tiring and confusing. That's where Help Musicians UK (HMUK) come in. HMUK is the leading charity for professional musicians in the UK. They deal with musicians of all genres, from the very start of their career to retirement.
I spoke to Barnaby Duff who is one of the Creative Programme Assistants. He took the time to walk me through the vast range of services they provide for musicians which includes funding schemes for postgraduate study, support during illness, and opportunities to apply for funding related to career progression (e.g., a music video).
I can't believe I hadn't come across this charity before, but we are now making use of their online resources and will definitely be in touch with them in the near future.
Following their #MusicMindsMatter campaign, HMUK are due to launch their Music Minds Matter service which aims to provide 24/7 support line and service for musicians. For more information check out the campaign website here.
This charity do some incredible work for musicians and you can find out more by visiting their website www.helpmusicians.org.uk. If you are able to, please consider donating to Help Musicians UK.
I had heard of the Musicians' Union before, but wasn't quite aware of the vast range of services and support they provide to musicians including legal advice. Musicians are frequently taken advantage of, for example not being paid for gigs, and this is where the Musicians' Union can help.
The membership comes at the hefty price of £213 per year, but hugely discounted for students at £20 per year. If you are in a position where you require legal advice or copyright and property rights protections, it's definitely worth it. As Ella and I continue our musical journey, we might seriously consider joining, particularly because the legal side of the music industry can be a minefield to navigate.
For more information, visit www.musiciansunion.org.uk.
Three things I loved about Amplify
I got the chance to speak to different who work in the industry or provide services for people within the industry.
The panels were filled with industry experts. Hearing their thoughts and advice was invaluable.
Variety! There was something for everyone there from guitar workshops and advice on your music to sessions on digital music marketing and music publishing. You could tell they had really thought about it all when they put the programme together.
Three things I found disappointing about Amplify
As I mentioned above, some of the session titles were somewhat misleading. Even though I was aware that some of these were panels, I didn’t expect it to be so conversational. Nevertheless, I did learn a few new things.
I bought my ticket shortly after this event was announced as I assumed an event like this would sell out quickly - it didn’t. I later received an email from Amplify via our band email account, offering a ticket for £15 (I paid £26), which was very annoying. Sadly, they did not respond to my email or tweet about this. To make matters worse, I then received an email from Amplify via our band email offering FREE tickets. FREE!! Clearly, Amplify thought that these tickets would sell out fast - as they made me believed - and when they didn’t, just started giving them away. I definitely won’t be making this mistake next year.
Buying your ticket early, meant that you were promised first dibs on the 2 Industry Sessions and 1 Journey Theatre Session included in the ticket price. There were also some other sessions you could book for free. However, upon arrival, I found out that the sessions were a free for all, meaning that pre-booking tickets meant nothing. Once you were allowed to enter the area where the talks were taking place, you could freely skip between the sessions without tickets being checked. If you were queuing up outside to get into a session (because you were not already in that part of the building), you probably wouldn’t get a spot in the session you were queuing for, as everyone inside could get there first. Sadly, this was something I experienced for one of the talks I wanted to attend the most.
|All photos taken by yours truly. Apologies for the terrible quality.|