Photography: Stuart Moulding / @oohshootstu

Sound City+

The BME 3/5/19

Liverpool’s British Music Experience, housed in the stunning Cunard Building, is the setting once again for the Sound City + conference. A day of industry talks, panel discussions, workshops and one-to-one chats with some of the music industry’s driving forces. It kicks off the Sound City weekend. On the agenda is everything from touring Asia, getting signed, European festivals, to streaming, politics and a conversation with Huw Stephens. It’s an opportunity to listen, learn and ask the all-important questions while you get the chance.

Starting off the proceedings is BBC’s Shell Zenner talking to DAVE ROWNTREE from the 90s Britpop band Blur. Best known for his days at the backbone of the Brit pop explosion, Rowntree is here to discuss how he is moving into politics. While he obviously can’t avoid talking about the Blur days, he uses it to address his steps towards joining the Labour Party and the need for activism in music. Sticking to the theme, we can’t ignore the elephant in the room, that being Brexit, and what it means for the music industry – if or when it happens. The affects of Brexit on the UK music industry might not be something people have considered, but this conversation only drives forward how much it will shake up the system. With statistics that claim music adds around £4.8 billion to the UK economy every year it only highlights how going forward we need to ask what the industry post-Brexit will be like and how we adapt. Until then, it’s business as usual.

Politics aside, one of the highlights of the day is the discussion around the hotly anticipated Levi’s Music project performance on Sunday evening. The room is packed for this one. Headed up by Sound City’s Managing Director REBECCA AYRES, she begins the discussion on creating community impact through brand and music partnerships. This project is in conjunction with Sunday’s headliner Loyle Carner, a staunch LFC fan, so it’s to no surprise that discussion on bringing communities together in Liverpool, a city with such strong music and football links, has drawn quite a lot of interest. Listening to one of the students, Hak Baker, talk about how it has changed his life only highlights the importance of music projects like this in the city, and throughout the UK.

How to make money from the music industry is another topic high on the agenda. Representatives from PPL and PRS give all the details on how musicians can make money from streaming to playing gigs. The guys from THE MAGIC GANG also share their experiences on the money side of things, providing invaluable information for the musicians and managers in the room.

Women in A&R is also a stand out discussion from the day. The five talented women who sit on the panel share their stories of how over the last few years, not only A&R, but the music industry, has started to change in its attitudes towards women. With the likes of the #MeToo movement gathering pace recently, it’s refreshing to see how women are seen to be at the forefront of changing the face of the industry. This is backed up by a conversation led by Charlie Ashcroft and producer and engineer ERIN TONKON. Tonkon shares her experiences being mentored by the legendary Tony Visconti, and recalls the very male dominated environment that led her to work on producing David Bowie’s final album.

Throughout the day there is a strong sense of community and a need to share knowledge. The topics discussed bring to light new areas of music that people may not have even considered. The honesty and wisdom from everyone who has contributed today makes music feel more approachable, less daunting, with all attendees leaving with a notebook full of ideas.

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