“I came here to learn something” – Melanie C (Spice Girls)
Getting into the music industry is tough. Whether you’re an artist or you want to work behind the scenes, competition is high, and garnering knowledge of how the industry works is vital. BBC Introducing has been integral in nurturing and elevating some of the most acclaimed and successful artists of the last 10 years. From Florence and the Machine to Panjabi MC, Slaves to Jme, BBC Introducing has supported a plethora of talent. To celebrate 10 years of great work, the BBC Music Introducing Hosts Amplify event was launched to provide insight and guidance to people already in the industry, and those looking to get their break.
All facets of the music industry were represented. One-on-one advice was offered through ‘Feedback Sessions’ where attendees were able to get demo guidance from a range of BBC DJs and producers, as well as business advice from legal advisors and accountants. Industry Masterclasses were held with experts discussing how to run a record label, the basics of music publishing and how to self-release music. A popular discussion saw Logan Sama, DJ Argue, Jade Avia and Novelist share insight on how to make a mark on the thriving Grime scene.
“…some people have got the motivation and understanding of the industry to be able to find people and network by themselves, a lot of people don’t, and events like these can help people get their foot in” – Caroline SM
I attended ‘The A&R Masterclass: What Do We Do?’ which featured A&Rs from Transgressive (Foals, Flume), Domino Recording Co. (Arctic Monkeys, Blood Orange) and Disclosure’s Method Records (Joel Compass, Liv Dawson). Caroline SM (New Gen/XL Recordings) completed the A&R line up in this hugely informative talk, which touched on everything from how not to send your music to a label, to what each A&R looks for in a prospective artist. In conversation with Caroline, we discussed the importance of events like BBC Music Introducing Hosts Amplify “some people have got the motivation and understanding of the industry to be able to find people and network by themselves, a lot of people don’t, and events like these can help people get their foot in.”
Headline talks included Phil Taggart and Huw Stephens interviewing the likes of Ray BLK and Blossoms. On the value of the event, Huw Stephens said “when you’re an artist or you’re starting out in any world, you just need advice, and you’ll get that here.” Fellow BBC DJs Annie Mac and Steve Lamacq talked audiences through how they programme new music for their respective shows, and saw them inundated with promo CDs from artists trying to get their music heard. As a result, Steve Lamacq will dedicate an hour of his BBC 6Music show to playing the best demos he received.
Where most educational events target young people, it was clear that this event was open to all. I saw attendees of all ages, who seemingly had never met, sharing advice that they had learned. Caroline SM talked to me about the importance of panels for not only those trying to get into music, but those already in it. “Listening to people you admire or people that have experienced something you are yet to experience is so beneficial, I try to talk on as many of these panels as I can, I hope that my experiences can help other people and equally I try to attend [panels], you never stop learning at any point in your career.” Talks did not just focus on sharing insight with those starting out, Sunday’s highlight talk discussed keeping control and how to maintain a career in the industry, with Melanie C (Spice Girls) sharing her experience of being in one of the biggest girl-groups in history, to going solo and self-releasing her music.
The main floor saw artists such as Denzel Himself and The Hunna play exclusive intimate sets alongside numerous stalls; Soundcloud, music colleges, equipment brands and companies that help artists to self-release such as AWAL (Artists Without A Label) were on hand to answer any questions. This was not an event that promoted a certain way to release music or get in to the wider industry. A balanced view was maintained throughout, illustrated by the huge presence of both labels and companies such as AWAL, allowing emerging artists the chance to get an informed idea of what might suit them best. I talked about the aim of the event with BBC Radio 1’s Huw Stephens. “It’s not do you want to be famous, do you want to win a competition, it’s about what do you do, and how do you want to get it out there?”
With over 100 talks, 250 speakers and 10,000 attendees, BBC Introducing Hosts Amplify covered all aspects of the music industry, for people at all levels of their career. For an industry that is known for having stiff competition and a dog-eat-dog atmosphere, this event extended an olive branch, and showed there are people in the industry that want to help. Working in music myself, I found this event hugely informative, broadening my knowledge on an ever-changing industry. These events are important – the accessibility of such in-depth information is a rarity, and usually restricted to expensive industry conferences. Traditionally, BBC Music Introducing has supported emerging artists specifically. Extending this support to those looking to forge a career in the wider industry to celebrate 10 years, can only mean more talent is able to thrive as a result.