Sunday, 22 May 2011

A busy week in tech for Gateshead-Newcastle coming up

The North-East (well Gateshead and Newcastle to be precise) has a number of interesting events lined up for those with an interest in music, media and technology, hosted by Generator and Thinking Digital.


Each evening from Monday to Thursday Generator are hosting a number of free (registration required) music industry themed events as part of their "The Know How" series at Northern Stage, opposite Newcastle University Student Union.  I'll be attending as many of these events as possible and hoping to post my take on the events after each one - the wifi signal is a little poor in this venue so Tweeting might not be an option!  You can find a brief overview of the events below:

Monday 23rd - 'Transmission'

This seminar will examine the past, present and future role of music broadcasting (TV, radio and new technologies), and identify existing and new opportunities for emerging artists to get noticed.

Points for discussion:
  • The role of traditional broadcasting (radio & TV)
  • New broadcast platforms and modern music consumption (podcasts, online and DAB radio, video-sharing websites, blogs and music streaming)
  • Associated revenue models
  • How do emerging artists and businesses embrace new technologies and broadcasting platforms?
  • The changing face of regional broadcasting and consequences for emerging artists
The guest panel includes:
Trevor Dann – Independent Radio Producer
Huw Stephens – BBC Radio 1
Dave Haynes – Soundcloud
Jeff Smith – Head of Programming, Radio 2

This should be an interesting discussion. I was impressed with Dave Haynes after his appearance at a Generator event last year: he's an intelligent guy with a lot of interesting ideas around online music distribution and the challenges facing the industry.

Tuesday 24th - 'Who Develops Our Artists?'

In the current economic climate traditional models of developing talent for the UK music industry are significantly fewer but there is no let up in the amount of quality artists coming through. Record labels no longer have the resource to adequately develop talent which begs the question: Who are the primary representatives of artists these days?

Points for discussion:
  • The impact of the diversification of label services on the artist
  • Is the role of the manager outdated?
  • The consequences of inadequate artist support
  • Should central government have a responsibility for talent development?
Jim Mawdsley – CEO, Generator, Director – Evolution
Paul Smith – Maximo Park
Matt Thornhill – A&R Director at XL Recordings
Cerne Canning – Supervision Management (Franz Ferdinand manager)
Jim Chancellor – Managing Director, Fiction Records

Wednesday 25th - 'What Does "Scene" Mean?'

Reviled and relied upon in equal measure – is ‘scene’ a convenient ‘catch-all’ journalistic term or something more substantial? Guests will look at how dance and electronic music scenes develop and achieve longevity – it will examine how emergent scenes rise and what they owe (by influence or outlook) to the original operators.

Panel guests will offer their views on:

  • Myth or not? What makes a scene?
  • The impact of new influences or new entrants
  • Can it generate creative complacency?

Bill Brewster has a particular connection with Newcastle given his early connections with Forensic Records and Shindig moving on to a significant career in promoting, DJing, and journalism, where in his book ‘Last night a DJ Saved my Life’ he described Ralph Lawson as ‘Britain’s best kept secret’.

Bill Brewster – Lowlife, ‘Last Night a DJ Saved my Life’
Ralph Lawson – Back 2 Basics, 2020 Soundsystem
Luke Una – Unabombers, Electric Chair, Electric Elephant

I'm looking forward to hear from Bill Brewster as someone who has fond memories of his book 'Last Night A DJ Saved My Life' (available for a very low price on Amazon at the time I write this), amongst others. It's an enjoyable trip down memory lane, outlining some of the key events in the emergence of dance music in the UK.

Thursday 26th - 'The Beggars Group Story'

Generator is extremely pleased to have Martin Mills MBE, sole owner and Chairman of the Beggars Group take part in our ‘In conversation’ sessions with BPI Chairman, Tony Wadsworth.

Artists that Martin Mills has worked with over the years include White Stripes, Pixies, Interpol, Cat Power, Basement Jaxx, The Prodigy, Adele, Radiohead, Gary Numan, Vampire Weekend, Bon Iver, and TV On The Radio.

Mills has been actively involved in promoting the interests of the independent music sector, being instrumental in the setting up of the Association of Independent Music in 1999, IMPALA in 2000, and most recently the Worldwide Independent Network.

Tony Wadsworth, Chair of BPI, and former CEO at EMI will be asking the questions and offering his own views.

I'l be intrigued to hear from Wadsworth, perhaps more so than Mills, given the former's role at the BPI. Despite some of the conflicted messages that come out of the British body, Wadsworth has come across a bit of a pragmatist in the face of the challenges facing music distribution in the UK.

Thinking Digital 2011

This Wednesday and Thursday sees the return of the North East's premiere technology conference to the Sage Gateshead.  Last year's event was a wonderful showcase of ideas from the worlds of science, technology, digital media and much more and I was fortunate to attend.  Take a look at the video below to get a feel for that event:

Thinking Digital 2010 in 4 Minutes from Herb Kim on Vimeo.

This year my wife is going (courtesy of company sponsorship from Accenture) but my work load prevents me from attending.  The speakers look great (Gerd Leonhard and Conrad Wolfram are good value for money), as expected, and the event has sold out already so if you want get involved you can still sign up for the event webcast at the bargain price of £79+VAT.

No doubt the hastag #tdc11 will be trending on Wednesday and Thursday!

Click this link to get involved.

Now, if only I could get all this university marking out the way...

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