The seventh annual Face The Music (FTM) summit at Arts Centre Melbourne just wrapped up its two-day event, giving emerging musicians and industry peeps the opportunity to hear from and network with peers. And there was a damn fine line-up of those peers, from international heavyweights like Steve Albini and Jen long, to local legends like Grammy award winners Haitus Kaiyote and Double J’s Tim Shiel.
For those who couldn’t make it there, we’ve compiled a few key juicy bits to give you the lowdown.
You Wish You Could Be In At Least Two Places At Once
At every music industry conference – no matter how big or small – you’re always gonna wish you had a doppelganger running around taking notes at the session around the corner. FTM was no exception, with two or three (or more) panels, workshops and industry sessions running simultaneously. Sometimes it’s just too hard to choose.
Internationally, Just Being A Muso From Australasia Is A Story In Itself Right Now
So said Lorde’s manager Ayisha Jaffer at the session We Come From a Band Down Under, which explored the awesome success of Australasian artists globally in the past few years. But don’t jump on a plane just yet. Marshall Betts from the Windish Agency recommends being cautious about going abroad just for the sake of, well, going abroad. Having a team (manager, agent, etc.) in place before you go will maximise your potential. Talk to people in the know first. There are all kinds of pitfalls you need to be aware of, like withholding tax in the USA.
There’s More To Music Conferences Than Hitting The Biggies Like SXSW
This panel session honed in on some of the boutique conferences that could be more beneficial to emerging musicians and industry peeps, like Music Matters in Singapore and the Amsterdam Dance Event. (There’s even a new conference at Sweden’s Way Out West – we know because we were there this year). Sounds Australia knows the music conferences of the world pretty damn well and they’re a great resource to check out.
A YouTube Presence Is Vital
While there was plenty of discussion about social media and SoundCloud from the panel on The Changing Nature of How Bands Break, a YouTube presence was the major take-out. As the second largest search engine in the world, having your music on YouTube is a no-brainer. Video is being accessed on more and more household and personal appliances. YouTube is the jukebox of today and is increasingly the first port of call for fans (and industry). With a streaming service soon to launch in the UK and USA (Australia early next year), YouTube’s strength as a platform for music discoverability is about to get even bigger. Don’t have a video? You can still have your music up there with a static image so it’s discoverable, easily shareable on other social media platforms, and – bonus – you can monetise your channel.
The STEP presented session Mavericks of Modern Music echoed the importance of YouTube, with Genero.tv’s Ellie Cameron-Krepp calling it “the new MTV” and “the biggest music consumption platform”. Genero.tv is a service that teams up artists, musicians, filmmakers and animators to help make videos more cost-effective and better quality.
Fans That Start With You Early Can Stay A Long Time
Publicist Natalie Dodds brought this point home on the panel for Digital Platforms – Subscribe Here. While most musicians already know the importance of connecting with fans through social media, it’s a point reiterated by Inertia’s Marketing and Communications Manager Pam Thornback. She acknowledged that it can be very time consuming, and suggested choosing the platforms that you prefer and are able to maintain well.
Gathering data from social media channels was also emphasised, in this panel and also at Backstage With The Agents Of Live Music. Harley Evans from Moshtix and publicist Melanie Lewis both addressed this, as did promoter Damian Cunningham, who added that data is key – including raw data from merch and ticket sales. Evans also mentioned using analytics through Google and Facebook to find out who and where your fans are, adding that every email address you collect is valuable, and connecting to fans is the most valuable thing you can do.
Melbourne Should Be Promoting Its Thriving Music Culture On Tourist Buses, Trams And Number Plates
The session Music In Melbourne City’s DNA looked at the vision of Melbourne as a global music city and music capital of Australia. Musician and curator Sophia Brous raised a valid point. She talked about the good old airport Skybus promo video which features Witches and Britches as one of Melbourne’s major tourist attractions. “We have one of the best music cultures in the world – why isn’t that promoted?”
Owner of live music venues Cherry Bar and Yah Yah’s James Young talked about the street signage in Berlin which remind people they’re in a music city. He raised the issue of Victoria’s number plate slogans and suggested instead of the proposed ‘The Education State’, we have ‘Victoria – The State For Live Music’. Surely that’s a slogan all Victorians would be proud of, and one that says something loads more exciting to tourists than education. A change.org campaign is now underway – you read it here first!
Steve Albini Gives Good Keynote
He may have been 20 minutes late, but Albini rocked up straight from the airport, laptop in hand (he hadn’t had the chance to print out his notes), and delivered a cracking keynote to a packed ANZ Pavilion room. Anyone who can use farts and bondage as relevant metaphors gets the gong in our books.
Bottom Line: It’s All About The Music
In too many panels to mention, we heard a range of industry experts spruik a similar mantra. Basically, if you want a sustainable career as a musician, you’ve gotta have great songs. And more than one great song, if you want success and career longevity. It doesn’t matter how many digital platforms you’re on, what your marketing strategy is and how you brand yourself – if you don’t have the songs, don’t give up your day job.