Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

The sounds and talking points of In the City 2010

You don’t have to look too hard to spot the changes in the music industry’s world order at the In The City conference in Manchester which began on Wednesday. Where once In the City featured numerous discussion panels on record …

Fri, Oct 15, 2010, 10:02

   

You don’t have to look too hard to spot the changes in the music industry’s world order at the In The City conference in Manchester which began on Wednesday.

Where once In the City featured numerous discussion panels on record label-related topics, 2010’s fare has moved far from those topics.

Indeed, there are few record label reps even amongst the talking heads. Instead, you’ve discussions on brands investing in music, the influence of bloggers, the potential of the Chinese live music market, data-mining, new-school home entertainment systems and what the music business can learn from sport.

The conference began with a Musicians’ Union panel on “pay to play”. Elbow’s Guy Garvey admitted they often had to pay a venue in order to play in the early days and he felt “quite bitter” about it. “It’s out of order”, Garvey said. “It should be the norm that you don’t get ripped off by venues.”

The branding panel stressed again and again that brands are really seeking unique content from bands to drive people to their sites. Acts expecting altruism are simply barking up the wrong tree.

At a time when brands appear to have more money for music projects than anyone else, there was also a timely reminder that most brand-related projects have a limited time-span. They may be a band’s best friend now, but it will be a different story in 18 months.

Thursday’s panels included a very useful guide to how bands can use freely available tools for data-mining and “fanalytics” and a fascinating discussion on what the music business can learn from sports, with examples from the worlds of football, cycling, snooker and rugby (not to mention a few references to Ant & Dec). The less said, howevet, about the bland panel on O2′s involvement in the music area the better. This was more of a sponsored powerpoint presentation than an insightful examination of how and why that huge brand operates in the music area (for example, there was not one reference to the amounts spent by O2 on music sponsorship).

But the yakking is only one side to In The City. Night-time is all about gigging and the city’s live music hub in the Northern Quarter has been awash with bands and punters over the last two nights.

Acts who caught our attention on the first night include Factory Floor, Mazes, O Children and Still Corners.

Last night’s highlights were Egyptian Hip-Hop, D/R/U/G/S, Walls, Fiction, the bracing Pulled Apart By Horses and Icelandic post-rock maestros For A Minor Reflection (one for the Mogwai fans amongst the OTR readership), Stricken City and the blissful Balearic bops of Kisses.