Thank you for helping make the first #FM2U conference such a great experience. It was an incredible day and I can’t thank all the speakers, performers and attendees enough for making this a success. Here’s a little background on the idea itself, followed by a short summary of what happened on the day and finally a list of useful links (so you can skip to the headings you’re interested in if you don’t have time to read all 1096 words!).
So what was #FM2U all about?
There’s never been a better time to make music. In the digital age the traditional music industry is no longer in charge of supplying music – we are. Top down communication has been replaced by peer-to-peer. This means that there is less a chance of reaching everybody, but all the more opportunity to reach those who matter. It’s now possible to find your audience and create a sustainable career making music that you are in charge of for people who love your work and support what you do.
What’s missing is a strong network of independent musicians to give ourselves a stronger voice (pun sort of, not really, intended). We need more platforms that allow us to communicate, collaborate and support with one another. I’m a singer / songwriter and have met a lot of musicians along the way whose music, entrepreneurial spirit and work ethic have inspired me to plunge into full-time music making.
I started to think how interesting it would be to have an event specificaly from and for independent muscians: Hence, from me to you was born (and yes, I’ll take any opportunity to sneak in a Beatles reference). The event aimed to bring like-minded artists and supporters together in order to share experiences, ideas and and come up with new solutions to problems pertinent to us as independent artists.
I was overwhelmed at the response – so many of independent musicians were on the same page, had similar ideas and were up for getting together. I was a little more surprised at how enthusiastic the more “traditional” music industry representatives were – Spotify, the MMF and Radio DJs and music managers were up for participating and interested in the idea.
So what happened on the day?
FM2U featured three panel debates all moderated by full-time, independent musicians. We examined the current relationships between streaming services and independents, discussed the growing trend of living room gigs and new platforms emerging around it as well as discussed the pros and cons of traditional PR versus a DIY approach.
DIGITAL REVENUE & STREAMING SERVICES PANEL – Paul Pacifico (FAC), Bryan Johnson (Spotify), Jyri Forsstroem (Music Kickup), Danny Bruder (C3S)
Bryan Johnson (Spotify / session drummer), gave a lot of really valuable information on how to make the most out of Spotify. He recommended artists see the service as more of a social network and utilize all features it has to offer. The panel talked about the importance of educating yourself, learning about new technologies and how you can use them to your advantage and then make an informed decision as to whether or not they’re right for you and your music.
Moderator Paul Pacifico (FAC / blues musician) posed the question as to whether independent artists see streaming services primarily as a way of getting paid or heard. This sparked a very interesting debate that lasted much longer than the panel itself. I’ll go into more detail once the videos of the day are up and running so stay tuned.
Bruder got to the heart of what #FM2U was all about when he talked about setting up C3S, a new rival collection society to challenge GEMA (German PRS equivalent) to be more transparent and fair: “I’m a musician. If you had told me 10 years ago that I would set up a collection society, I would have said: No f**king way, but here I am”. In the spirit of “be the change you want to see”, independent musicians around the world are working together in order to come up with new business models that work for us.
LIVING ROOM GIGS PANEL – Louis Barabbas (Debt Records), Kerry Harvey-Piper (Red Grape MGMT), Zoe Brownigg (Sofar Sounds), Stylusboy (Singer / Songwriter)
The second panel saw an animated Louis guide us through the benefits and difficulties of living room shows. Manager Kerry Harvey-Piper pointed out that the intimate setting of private shows does not suit all artists and stressed the importance of good communication between host and performer before the show. Zoe drew attention to cultural differences between the UK and USA, where living room tours are more of an established concept.
TRADITIONAL PR VS. DIY PANEL – Jess Morgan (Singer / Songwriter), Ruth Barnes (BBC6 / Amazing Radio), Annette Barlow (The Girls Are / The Guardian / NME), Jon Webster (MMF)
Singer Songwriter Jess Morgan guided us through the do’s and don’ts of DIY PR. Both Ruth Barnes and Annette Barlow provided us with amazing insight into what radio DJs, producers and journalists look for and Jon Webster shared stories from MMF colleagues, stressing the importance of a targeted campaign (“Have concrete goals and create a strategy to achieve them”).
We ended the day with some amazing live music in a songwriters in the round format.
Thank you again to everyone who participated, thank you to Chris Sheehan from Karousel Music for being such a great co-host and for helping SO much with the live music portion of the evening. Thank you to the lovely Lorraine from Success Express Music for rounding up the musician troops and for being so supportive, thank you to Arne and Christopher from AITP (Artists in the Plus) for making this all happen and for filming the event (I can’t wait to see the footage!) and thank you to the venue for having us. My only personal regret is that I didn’t have time to meet you all properly and chat with you. Please do get in touch if you’d like to meet up, discuss your ideas, brainstorm any new music business models etc.
Finally, here’s a list of useful links mentioned / discussed at #FM2U. If you’d like to add any (because it’s very likely I’ve forgotten some!), including your own projects and business ideas, please do share them in the comment section.
Roxanne de Bastion
HELP A MUSICIAN: https://www.helpmusicians.org.uk/
SPARK PLUG: www.sparkplug.it
RADAR MUSIC VIDEOS: www.radarmusicvideos.com
SPOTIFY ARTISTS PAGE: https://www.spotifyartists.com/
SOFAR SOUNDS: https://www.sofarsounds.com/
GIG IN YOUR HOUSE: www.giginyourhouse.co.uk
MUSIC KICKUP: https://www.musickickup.com/
SUCCESS EXPRESS MUSIC: www.semusic.org