It has been a busy but compelling three days at Tobacco Dock in east London representing the MU at ‘BBC Introducing Live.’ The event – now in its second year following its launch in 2017 as ‘Amplify’ – is hosted and administered by Get On Music Media, who I understand have licensed the BBC name for up to five years. The show was a marked step-up from the inaugural show and the historic venue proved ideal for the numerous scheduled seminars, workshops and performances.
The organisers aimed to attract up to 15,000 rising artists and industry talent under the umbrella of BBC Introducing, in keeping with the broadcaster’s brand aiming to discover and support new music. The halls, rooms and corridors were certainly packed on the first two days, especially with students from music colleges from across the UK.
BBC Radio broadcast live from the event and we logged over 100 masterclasses and interactive sessions, practical workshops, Q&As taking place, featuring over 250 speakers from all quarters of the music industry. These included Steve Lamacq, Deadmau5, DJ Target, Ben Howard, Huw Stephens, Annie Mac, Emily Eavis, Tom Robinson, Bob Harris, Steve Knightley and Zoe Ball. The industry names from the recorded, live, broadcast and digital sectors shared their insider knowledge alongside the key UK music industry bodies, providing invaluable support for emerging home-grown talent as they look to take the next steps in their careers. Visitors were able to have their music reviewed in the A&R Feedback Centre hosted by AIM, plus gain practical advice from leading BBC sound engineers in the BBC Recording Studio Zone.
The event also offered a wide range of exhibitor spaces containing colleges, manufacturers, and music services such as Marshall, Shure, Yamaha, Sentric, Spotify, AWAL and Tunecore. The MU stand was sited in The Cavern area and our new installation (based on the stand design used at the party political conferences) proved popular and attracted many compliments. The new ‘Join the MU for a £1’ initiative was a key message at the event and we were able to engage a stream of artists in the work of the Union and the benefits of membership, especially amongst a considerable number of the grime, hip hop and R&B musicians in attendance, such as Zuby and Shadaow.
My colleague Maddy chaired a panel on the final day under the title ‘Don’t let the bastards grind you down’, focusing on well-being and personal safety in the industry. Also on the panel making valuable contributions were singer/songwriter Anna Neale, composer Robin Rimbaud aka ‘Scanner’, jazz vocalist Cherise Adams-Burnett and Alex Mann of Help Musicians UK. The MU had been invited by Help Musicians UK to organise the panel specifically to discuss the MU’s Safe Space initiative, mental health, Work Not Play and associated issues. Mention was also made of the MU’s campaign for a touring visa post-Brexit, the Fair Play Venue initiative, music education research and other activities.
Friday evening saw UK Music’s Oli Morris, Megan White and Felicity Oliver hosting a networking event, which attracted an intriguing gathering of producers, artists and colleagues from trade body members. I met MU member Shlomo, producer Eric Martin, Laura Ames-Carder of the BPI and a number of new artists and managers.
I was joined on the stand by MU colleagues Paul Burrows (Thursday) and Sam Jordan (Friday and Saturday) who provided excellent help and support, while MU officials Phil Kear and John Shortell contributed to important panel discussions on their respective areas of expertise. Photographer Jonathan Stewart captured the panel events and various bands in action for us on the Saturday. Amongst other supportive and welcome visitors to the event were marketing consultant Mark Batchelor, Steve and Beccy from Printstore, and the inspirational Suzanne Bull of Attitude is Everything.