Another freezing Saturday morning was met with hundreds of budding musicians, artist managers, label owners, PR’s, you name it, queuing up for a jam packed day of insight, inspiration and advice from some of the best in the music industry.
Devised by Cre8ing Vision and sponsored by Island Records, RCA, Polydor, Ministry of Sound, PRS, Casio, Arts Council, BMI, Odd Child Music and Virgin EMI, The Ultimate Seminar is Europe’s only free major music seminar with a series of panel discussions chaired by renowned and credible industry leaders.
The day started off with ‘Knowing Your Business’ featuring Simon Aldridge, Kienda Hoji, Simon Long, Obi Asika, Michael Hyland, Michael Baskerville, Chris Cooke and and Tommy D. It focused on the need to understand and learn the business elements of the ever growing music industry. Simon Aldridge spoke about “Record companies are like oil tankers - it’s difficult to get them to change direction" when dealing with labels as an Artist.
The panel agreed that Artists need to create a brand. it's not just about making money from your music but creating other sources of revenue. Echo Talent’s, Obi Asika continued to explain why “Spotify has a negative effect on breaking new artists. Streaming makes music throw away, it is still possible to break as an artist but it’s much harder”. It was a great start to a long day with a bit of honesty from industry professionals on the struggles facing musicians trying to earn a living in the music industry.
The day continued into the ‘School of Hard Knocks’ panel featuring Mel Rudder (Atlantic Records) Kim Frankiewicz, Chimene Mantori, Zeon Richards, Kevin Benz, Jonathan Quarmby (RAK records) and Lucy Francis (Spilt Milk). The panel discussed the importance of Radio with suggestions that “Radio has been majorly important in previous years in terms of breaking artists in the UK”. It focused on how the industry is growing and making the most of opportunities presented to you. Zeon Richards mentioning that you need “200,000 downloads from Spotify before you're taken seriously”.
The stand out anecdote from the School of Hard Knocks came from Kevin Benz, who echoed “If you're not in the room then you're not part of the deal” which seemed to resonate with the crowd.
Entre Nick Raphael. Nick Raphael, President of Capital Records UK joined Kwame Kwaten for an intimate ‘ Be Inspired’ panel. Nick Raphael is responsible for A&R’ing acts such as Sam Smith and signing Liam Payne. Nick explained how he initially wanted to be a footballer but went on to sell Pizzas to earn a living. He went on to explain how his introduction into DJ’ing taught him about the music industry.
Nick DJ’d at his local club in Leeds for many years before being recognized as one of the hottest DJ’s in town and his club being voted ‘Best Club Night’ continuously in magazines. This generated Nick, a huge following and a reputation for having the ear for good music. Nick explained how his professionalism built him a reputation and soon record labels were in touch. Nick continued to explain how he tried to sign a young Jay-Z to then London Records. After being advised not to sign Jay Z, he kept a good relationship with Jay Z and Dame Dash and eventually was able to sign Jay Z to a 3 album deal at London Records in the UK. How’s that for success? Nick explained how “I went from a laughing stock to the next big thing after the Jay Z situation. It was the turning point.”
On went the day and next up was a ‘Creative Breakers’ panel featuring Shakka, Rude Kid, Cadenza, Marina Mansour, Rachael Campbell, Tre Jean Marie and chaired by BBC’s Nihal Arthanayake. The panel discussed the need for brand awareness. Marina Mansour explaining, “Brands are looking to tap into an audience and an artist’s credibility”.
One person who knows about tapping into an Artists credibility is Rachel Campbell, PR to Stormzy who explained how “Stormzy does things his own way. He has proved everyone wrong and paved a way for Independent artists”. Shakka went on to explain how “There's nothing more valuable than your reputation. Don't make a bad name for yourself in the industry” and “There’s no blueprint on songs.
You have to maintain self confidence in the whole process” which both sat well with the audience of emerging artists. The emphasis of the panel was on individualism and knowing what you want as an artist in the industry. Knowing that before reaching out to brands, work on getting your audience. Your value to brands is your audience.
The day ended with Capital XTRA DJ Manny Norte hosting a ‘Breakthrough Artist’ panel featuring rising stars six-piece indie rock band Young Kato; rapper, songwriter Nick Brewer; MC Yungen and singer-songwriters Mabel, Ray Blk, and Starling.
The artists spoke on the important of management. Ray BLK explained how “Management is very important. Make sure your manager is like your number 1 fan. Everyone has to have the same vision.” And Nick Brewer touched on how his management has left him the space to excel. “The ability to focus on music and giving my manager the role of the business side has helped in my career”.
The panel continued to discuss the importance of funding as an Artist with different avenues such as PRS and PPL but the anecdote of the night came from Singer-songwriter, Ray BLK who bellowed to the audience “Take advice when you're too head strong. Use the knowledge from people around you.” And she was right.
If you are trying to break into the music industry, use the knowledge around you and seek guidance and one of the best ways to do that is to attend The Ultimate Seminar.
2016 proved to be another inspiring and amazing day of music seminars and industry insight from the best in the industry. Thanks Cre8ing Vision, thanks Kwame Kwaten, thanks to all panel members and we already can’t wait for next year!