Sound and Vision previewed in my October music column for the Evening News
Norwich Sound and Vision returned to the city last week bringing three days of live music. I’ve been fortunate to have been involved in the past, performing at a showcase evening at the Bicycle Shop and also a PRS opening reception and believe it’s a truly exciting festival that really puts Norwich on the UK music map. During the festival I’ve seen some amazing live performances at key venues across the city.
Sound and Vision also provides a major opportunity for media, artists, labels, film makers, writers and anyone involved in a creative industry to all meet and network. I’ve made connections with bloggers and radio from attending the festival and as a musician and music lover Sound and Vision has become one of the essential dates in the music calendar.
Performing at Sound and Vision PRS Reception
Not only is there the high quality of eclectic live music to see, during the day there’s also the conference itself. I’ve enjoyed the excellent and relevant panel discussions from trusted and respected members of the music industry, some coming from around the world. I’ve often felt inspired and motivated, (despite also often feeling overwhelmed) after hearing what they’ve advised and had to say about the industry.
With BBC 6 Music’s Tom Robinson at last year’s festival
This year the first first panel I attended was how to market your content. The panelists included Will Spencer from digital marketing agency Bozboz MAS, Michael Bailey from Mustard TV and Rosie James from Tru Thoughts records, an indie label in Brighton.
The panel discussed the ways in which they use social media and this is the panel that day I was really interested in. When Michael started in 2007 it was before Twitter and predominantly print based. Now with social media dominating how we share information, he constantly posts news online at the same time, feeling there’s a community of interest. Will, whose company provides digital marketing for festivals, said their approach to social media depends very much on their clients. For a festival like Sundown which has a very young audience, they utilise Instagram and Snapchat.
Rosie and her label advise their artists to maintain a constant drip feed of posts. For something like an album launch there would be more focus on a specific artist due to all the promotion involved in a new release. Will said their content was often tailored depending on if it’s Facebook (good for core messages), Twitter (more often, about sparking conversation) and Instagram (giving more of a backstage view, like a band sound check). As an artist I can definitely relate to these approaches. I often interact and discuss music I like on Twitter, share posts about my major activities on Facebook and share fun photos and videos of what I’m up to on Instagram.
There was also talk about how there are new developments coming along all the time. Michael mentioned Periscope, how it’s being used differently and all about engaging live with people. The panel felt it was about finding the best one for you and the one you most enjoy using as that will definitely come across and really build a bond with your fans. Different artists are also better at certain social media, each one has benefits and it’s worth experimenting with your channels and ultimately being yourself as that will shine through. It’s all about creating engaging cool content, something that people will want to share, posting about other music you like not just promoting your own material. Competitions work well, thanking people (e.g radio stations) that have promoted you, creating a story and giving access to your world.
The next panel was the secret of syncs with Peter Bradbury (head of music at Sky TV) and Nathalie du Bois, the CEO and founder of 6 Degrees Entertainment, an independent music company that represents a wide roster of artists for film, television and commercial sectors providing, among other services, music supervision. They looked at how the whole process worked for UK television and the differences between the UK and in the US and also explaining terms like blanket licensing, Mark Gordon, from creative music and sound company Score Draw Music, had drawn diagrams which really made it easier to understand. The panel also gave some useful advice on how to pitch your music to companies such as Sky and how they in particular try to be discerning and ahead of the game in their music choices. By also viewing promos for Game of Thrones and The Legacy, we saw how original music was used. There can be many spots for TV shows for indie artists, particularly in the US, but they emphasised how essential it is to do your research.
The third panel I attended on Thursday was focusing on breaking an artist through streaming services. It featured Ben Rimmer from digital distributors Believe Digital, Sarah Fulford at digital music platform Supa Pass and music managers Bob James and David Manders. They discussed what a massive impact streaming has had on the music industry. With Spotify passing iTunes and now with the advent of Apple Music, streaming has reached a whole new level. David, who manages the excellent duo Public Service Broadcasting, says digital has become a huge part of their income with the band now embracing it. He believes streaming is a discovery tool, giving fans access to the music which could then lead to someone becoming a super fan and wanting to buy something. Most of the panel weren’t huge fans of SoundCloud but felt it was great for sharing band remixes and B sides.
Bob felt you shouldn’t forget YouTube which is still absolutely massive for the youth market. He also revealed how streaming can be beneficial to an artist, advising on how you can monetize your YouTube channel and its income streams and how lots of streams on Spotify can lead to play listed spots which can then lead to radio play. Again, as with the earlier panel, they reiterated how it’s all about building your platform and creating a story.
Later on I managed to catch some live music and really enjoyed the sets in the Arts Centre bar. Singer songwriter Abigail Blake, who performed for Huw Stephens at the Radio 1 Academy in Norwich earlier this year, mixed her set by playing guitar and also beautifully playing harp. She has a wonderful voice with really lovely songs and is currently promoting her 6 track EP ‘Etch’. Abigail was followed by True Adventures, the project from Norfolk based Sam. He’s been championed by BBC Introducing and 6Music’s Tom Robinson and I really liked his debut single ‘North Atlantic Ocean’ a moving song which sounded great with just his voice and electric guitar.
In the main room I caught Let’s Eat Grandma, 16 year old’s Rosa and Jenny who are managed by Mary Epworth and her Hand of Glory label. Seeing these young multi-instrumentalists was so impressive, I love seeing talented young musicians and their mix of pop and progressive sounds and performance had the audience captivated.