13.04.12 MusicWeek 21
tribulations I have – a lot of other people have them as well. It’s a great place to come and talk to people,
make connections and find people you might want to work with, not labels, necessarily, but maybe sync agents, or music supervisors, or tech companies, or platforms that might be a new way of getting to market. It’s a whole host of things that allow small businesses to take control of their own destiny.
How has the event grown and changed since 2008? It changes every year. For example, the conference features a lot of roundtables, forums, one-to-one meeting opportunities. It’s very dynamic and interactive and it’s definitely not sitting idly, being talked at. We make sure that key businesses that come to the conference get the chance to talk to each other. We also have a strand called Create Sound City,
which is a part of the conference especially for people who have a burning desire to be in the music business, but they don’t quite know how they’re going to get there. So the Create conference is more fundamental,
it’s more like a toolbox, but we don’t separate it from the core conference. We used to, but what we found was that it’s better if everyone’s in the mix together, because what recent history has taught us is that the old hierarchical routes to market have gone, the rule book has been ripped up. There isn’t one prescribed path that will lead you
from knowing nothing to being a captain of industry. If you’ve got a great idea and can connect with the right people, which of course Sound City is all about, then you can be 19, 20, 21 years of age and just cut straight through.
Can you give us some figures that illustrate the growth of the event? Year one was 200+ delegates, a couple of hundred bands and just under 3,000 wristbands. Last year there were 2,500 delegates, 9,000 unique wristbands, which gives us a footfall audience of going on for 27,000 and we put on just under 450 bands from 23 different countries in over 30 venues.
How would you characterise the split between the consumer-facing performance-based aspect of Sound City and the business/conference element? What we didn’t ever want to do is just a conference, or just a trade fair, it would be too dry. You look at other models, competitors, and they’re a bit weary. We always want to showcase new talent and put
on really high class shows, but at the heart of it there’s the opportunity to do business. We get support from bodies like UKTI,
Liverpool Vision and the Mersey Partnership and core to those relationships is us getting business done. We’re measured on contracts signed. Over the years we’ve brought in more than £12m to the region on contracts signed at Sound City – so it really does work.
What’s new for 2012? We’re adding two new aspects into Sound City. We’re launching the UK Music Student Awards, with Access to Music. That will take place on the opening night of Sound City, May 17 in the Echo Arena. That will be a celebration of young people with aspirations of working in music or making music, and it will also be an MTV style show, with
Access to Music Awards, inward-facing and very much about them. We said we didn’t want to do it on that basis, it had to start facing outwards. So, this year it’s Access to Music plus one or
MAY 17–19 Full delegate pass £150 Three day wristband £45 UK Music Student AwardsMay 17, Liverpool Echo Arena Artists include Professor Green, The Temper Trap (pictured below), Death In Vegas, Mystery Jets, Kids In Glass Houses, White Denim, Ghostpoet, Space, The Wedding Present, Alkaline Trio, James Vincent McMorrow, Michael Kiwanuka, Niki and the Dove, Willy Mason, Django Django, Tim Hecker, Slow Club, The Jezabels Everything you need to know liverpoolsoundcity.co.uk
two other colleges around the country. Next year we will make it open to many, many more institutions and we’ll begin introducing more formal voting networks.
Can you tell us about the international expansion of the brand? We always thought that if it worked in Liverpool we would take it around the world. It was never supposed to be limited to Liverpool. Our concept is based on high production values,
a lot of love, high quality aesthetics, all those things from the In The City days with Tony, really. And they can be applied anywhere. We took Sound City to Dubai in 2009, which
was a great success. We took it to Tromso in Norway last year and this year we launched in New York. We’re looking to launch in Doha in November this year and we’re also looking at several other locations over the next few years.
Is the plan to take New York annual as well as Liverpool? As it stands the two annual dates in the diary will be New York and Liverpool, yes, but the plan is to get maybe four annual events supplemented by other one-offs, maybe six events a year, something like that.
And how did the first New York Sound City go? For the most part it was a huge success for us. As with Liverpool, I’d always wanted to do something in New York, and of course we took In The City there in 2005, and I learned a lot from that experience. What we wanted to do was to make sense for
the UK and European companies on their way to SXSW – almost give them another bite of the cherry, really. I’ve previously attended some events on my way to SXSW which have been quite formal and quite dry and not really achieved anything if I’m honest - so by doing Sound City in New York we wanted to host a very dynamic event for those businesses stopping off on their way to SXSW. There were a lot of round table discussions, some
cool and sexy panels, we talked about the evolution of dance music, the renaissance of New York hip hop, things like that. As with everything we do, one of the core aims
Professor Green headlining. Then over the following two days, also in the
Echo Arena, we’re launching Sound City Expo, which will be a trade fair showcasing hardware, digital technology and a range of businesses from all over the world.
Am I right in thinking that the UK Music Student Awards already existed, but this is the first time they’ve been part of Sound City? They existed in a parochial sense. They were the
ABOVE City slickers: The Dutch Uncles at New York Sound City (top) and The Kooks play Liverpool’s bombed-out St Luke’s Church at last year’s event
was to inspire people, to talk positively and dynamically about what’s happening, where the opportunities are, so people come away wanting to work in new sectors, in new ways with new partners. And I think we achieved that. The feedback we’ve had has been hugely positive.
Was the structure similar to Liverpool? It was similar but smaller. Just one day and then bands in three venues in the evening. We may move it to two days next year.
How many delegates were there? We set it for 150 year one and we got just under 200. We effectively sold out a week before, but then we had so many requests that we increased the capacity.
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