One of the wonders of the modern world is that we’re all so connected, and yet also not. To illustrate the point: here I sit, typing this blog post on my Blackberry, in a cafe full of people. Go on. Judge me. But this is the world we live in.
However, I have wondered about John Mayor deleting his Twitter profile. I have wondered about how effective this whole thing really is.
Let’s face it: social networking and the Internet are great tools, but there’s something to be said for taking time out to think and speak with your contemporaries about what kind of business you’re actually doing.
Such is the great benefit of the second annual Future Music Forum, in which this year, around 70 delegates gathered to chat through models of the music industry, ideas going forward and where the future of successful music making, management and publishing lies.
The irony is that the FMF is a meeting of minds about social media to fulfil a function which, I would argue, social media cannot.
The keynote address by U.S. entrepreneur Angela Gambino (pictured right) addressed two key issues in business success: velocity and scale. In other words, the capacity of a business to grow quickly and grow large.
“How easy is your business to contemplate? How easy is your business to copy?” she asked delegates. Food for thought.
One of the highlights for me of the FMF was the collaboration of Marc Marot and Ian Neil on two different panels. The first panel was How To Get Your Music in TV and Film and the second was a broader focus on Music Synchronisation – which is the association of music with different brands (TV adverts, clothing, etc).
Both Marc and Ian have worked in the industry over the past three decades and their casual approach at the FMF and anecdotal reflections were a real treat. But beyond that, through the discussion with other panellists, they were able to give a perspective that innovation is still key to the future of the music industry, and the area of synchronisation is one which Ian maintains has continued to give a reasonable return in profits and other benefits.
I was wondering when it would happen, and Marc brought it up: the case of Adele – an independent artist who has become a global sensation, and will have sold 20 million albums by the end of this year. “That tells us something,” he said, “she’s an interesting case.” It was comforting for me to hear that there is still a sense (be it romanticized or otherwise) that there is still a market for unique, quality music.
Finding a compatible fit with a brand and an artist is fundamental, but it was interesting to hear from professionals that being in the personal collections of writers or directors is sometimes more fundamental. When you’re in their minds, things happen…
For example, the wife of the CEO of a major film company in the U.S. will step out the shower and say “You know that band that sings [insert tune]‘? I really like them!” Next thing you know, that band is on the soundtrack of the latest Hollywood blockbuster.
It’s not all about who you know… it also depends on who knows you.
FMF director Niall Doorley also highlighted synchronisation. “I’m really interested in how gaming & music progress together,” he said. “Not many people are aware, but they have a long history together stretching back to the late 80s where in Japan video game’s music was being sold on cassette. Fast forward to 2011 and with the hugely popular games on Facebook now converting in to a serious channel for pop stars to reach their audience.”
The other interest for me was the area of A&R, something which many independents nowadays take for granted with the advent of social media, but someone who seems to understand the nuances and psychology of it all is Music X-Ray CEO Mike McCready.
The website describes the company as “21st century A&R”, and profiles and offers opportunities to artists with industry professionals across the board. Worth checking out if you haven’t already.
One thing that really stands out: get to know people. It helps.
Other notes: Make awesome music. It helps. Think out the box. Then demonstrate your ability to do so. It definitely helps!