Insights Blog

Insights Blog: CMU@TGE 2017 in five steps

By | Published on Wednesday 18 January 2017

We’ve just announced the themes for the CMU Insights @ The Great Escape conference that sits in the middle of the TGE Convention each May, the programme of events for the 3500 industry delegates that attend Brighton’s festival for new music each year. Here we talk you through this year’s CMU@TGE conference in five steps.

1. Four conferences in one
There are a lot of music industry conferences around the world these days, which can make it tricky ensuring that your music industry conference stands out, to offer that something a little bit different.

But we like doing things a little bit different here at CMU. That’s why we said “fuck” in the middle of that serious report on those complicated copyright complexities. And you thought we were just being silly. Which we were. But you know, it’s also part of that ‘let’s do something different’ strategy.

That’s why two years ago we revamped the conference we present at the heart of the Great Escape Convention each year, so that now we basically present four different conferences in one, delving deeper into the big issues of the day.

We pick the four topics that have most filled the collective minds of the CMU team in the last twelve months and present a whole day of talks, case studies interviews and panels around each of those themes. This year our four conferences cover export, royalties, media and drugs.

2. The Export Conference
Brexit hey? That’s all turning out to be a barrel of fun times, isn’t it? But what does it mean for British music? The truth is, it’s actually too soon to say. But it’s not too soon to consider what Brexit might mean for the UK copyright regime, for music companies who base their European operations out of London, and for bands who want to play their music across the continent.

After chairing one of the first ‘what Brexit means for music’ panels for the BPI last September, I left the stage with some valuable insights, and lots of questions. We’ve been seeking answers to those questions ever since and will present them during our Export Conference next May.

But don’t worry, it’s not going to be all about bloody Brexit. We are committed to making the proceedings 87% upbeat by discussing how new talent can go global in the streaming age via a series of case studies from acts who have done just that. Along the way we’ll look at the role showcase festivals, initiatives like the Music Export Growth Scheme, and on-the-ground business partners play in achieving success.

3. The Royalties Conference
As I like to tell audiences at our CMU:DIY events for new talent, “if you write songs or record music, welcome to the copyright industry, take your seats, let’s talk technicalities”.

For songwriters and artists, copyright is all about money. But where exactly does that money come from and, more importantly, where does it go as it passes from licensee to creator? I’m going to tell you exactly where it goes in our Royalties Conference. Expect a very big diagram.

Also expect some more digital dollar talk, because we’re returning to the big transparency issue. If one thing was clear from the series of round tables I chaired for the Music Managers Forum on the streaming market last year, it’s that there remain far too many unanswered questions about digital income.

To crack this challenge we need to be more specific: who should be more transparent about what exactly? This is what we are going to address in the Royalties Conference.

4. The Media Conference
As someone who owns a media company but writes about the music industry, there’s something I’d like to say to all you music types out there. If you think the music industry is fucked (it isn’t), you should come take a look at the music media business (it is).

While music journalism generates plenty of clicks – clicks don’t always mean prizes. Not when search engines and social networks get all the ad spend. So how do you make money out of music media in 2017? Branded content? Spin-off events? Brand licensing deals?

We’ll be looking at the music media business models that seem to be working, and will then consider what that means for the art of music journalism. Because music journalism’s an art right? Well, writing deliberately misleading but alluring click-baity headlines is definitely an art.

There’ll be some time to wonder about the future of radio too. People keep talking about the streaming services becoming future record labels, but as far as I can see they’re all busy becoming future radio stations. So what does that mean for your good friends over on the FM dial?

5. The Drugs Conference
I was in Tallinn when Islington Council decided to revoke Fabric’s licence last year, which is why guests at that city’s Nordic Hotel Forum were disturbed in the middle of that night by the loud exclamation of “oh for fucks sake, that’s not how you save lives”.

Unusually for 2016, the Fabric licensing debacle had a positive conclusion, but along the way it provoked a very interesting debate about what the live industry could and should be doing to provide the safest possible environment for its customers. Shutting down best practice venues is clearly not the way to do it, but what is? We are lining up the experts to share their knowledge on this tricky topic next May.

Meanwhile, we will also put the spotlight on drugs within the music community. Since our focus on mental health at last year’s CMU@TGE it’s been stressed to me a number of times how, often, this issue goes hand in hand with the problem of addiction. With a number of practical initiatives now under way to better support everyone in the music community, we’ll be continuing the debate on how to ensure a healthy music industry this May.

You can access the whole CMU@TGE conference, plus the wider Great Escape convention and festival programme – which is looking brilliant by the way – by buying a delegates pass here. Convention-only tickets are also available here. I hope to see you there!


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