Rockcomm 2015 – Day 1

In association with Believe Digital 8-9th June at Richmix center in Shoreditch.

In a week that see’s two of the biggest music events in the UK take place, Download Festival and the Golden Gods awards, the organisers of this event, Seven and Steve, decided this would be the perfect date to hold the first ever rock music conference. This is a completely unique concept for this genre of music as the larger music conferences, that already exist, tend to cater for all genres in music which seemingly only ever scratches the surface of the rock, hard rock and metal genres – never has there been a conference that solely focuses on these genres exclusively, therefore this event is being hailed as an industry first.

In my opinion, this event couldn’t have been timed more perfectly, especially when you consider the multitude of reports we can read today, currently stating that rock is dead! Over the two day conference a total of 14 separate topics were covered, each of which had a panel of experts who specialise in that topics particular field. It’s safe to say the candidates spanned the length and breadth of the music industry, all of which are considered as successful and are highly sought after individuals, so to have them all under one roof and at the same time was an absolute dream come true for people interested in developing their skills and educating themselves to succeed in this industry!

As predicted, many had purchased a ticket for this event, which was re-assuring as it tells me people are eager to learn. After registration, where people received their official Rockcomm goody bag which was filled with lots of useful information about this event along with other useful promotion material (there was even a pair of sunglasses, just in case) people made their way to the main seminar room for the keynote address, where both Seven and Steve addressed the crowd and outlined what people could expect from this industry first rock related conference.

The first talk was one I was very interested in and titled….

PR: What’s The Story?

PRESENTED BY: Duff Press & SKH Music
MODERATED BY: Arya Goggin (Skindred) & Danny Bowes (Thunder)
PANELISTS:
Duff Battye – Owner Duff Press
Keith Hagan – Co-owner SKH Music (US).
Adam Sagir – Managing Director Noise Cartel PR
Roland Hyams – Owner Work Hard PR
Tony Cooke – Co-owner – Scream Promotions

Here the panelists talked at length on how bands can get noticed and get on tours with larger acts.

These guys represent an artist, who work hard at getting their acts maximum exposure however not a lot was discussed regarding this, which would have helped me greatly seeing as we try to do just that. After the panel I spoke with Adam Sagir a little about this and problem is that there are so many of us smaller outlets out there that it creates a very competitive market for us and these guys are looking to get their acts the maximum exposure possible. My argument is, if it’s a good review or set of images, with the power of the internet, us smaller outfits can still reach as many people as the larger when they’re willing to put in the hard work. The reply I received was, keep doing what you’re doing, with time the larger acts will come your way. Food for thought!

The next topic is such a large and important part of the music industry, it was split into 2 parts, as the panelists had a wide perspective on this topic, as you can see from the list, it featured some industry leading experts in this field.

Live Part 1

PRESENTED BY: Musicians Union
MODERATED BY: Dave Webster – National Organiser Live Performance Musicians Union.
PANELISTS:
John Davis – Owner Chic Festivals SL
Sharon Richardson – Owner Factory Music management and Agency
Duncan Gray – Director Triple G Music
Anton Lockwood – Promotions Director DHP family (Hit the deck Festival)
Mark Davyd – CEO Music Venue Trust
Guillaume Reveillon – CEO Cartel Concerts

Every band wants to play a large venue and get on large tours, but the general consensus is, you’re not ready. Bands need to be realistic when approaching promoters to play alongside other bands at their local venue – can you honestly sell the number of tickets you say you can? There’s also a fine line when it comes to doing gigs as bands can play the same venues too often which makes people not want to come to shows. The outcome of this panel was, market yourself well, get out there and play as many gigs as you can, in as many areas as you can. Build a credible following to improve your chances at playing the larger shows. This does seem like common sense, but after speaking to bands, this is harder than it sounds especially when you consider ‘buy on’s’ which are a bone of contention for many, which got spoken about a lot over this conference, which I’ll discuss later.

Rockcomm - Day 1

Brands and Bands

PRESENTED BY: Rockcomm
MODERATED BY: Moose – Head of Radio TeamRock
PANELISTS:
Michael Lightford – Senior Account Manager – Relentless Energy
Helen Varley – Brand Manager Charvel & EVH and Jackson Guitars
Luke Hearn – Brand Manager Hobgoblin and Wychwood at Marstons PLC
Ian Rendall – Artist Relations Fairbanks Endorsements.

Who doesn’t love an endorsement but getting them is hard, from what I can gather! Having heard Moose on the radio for some time, it was an absolute pleasure to see the man at work however, I did feel he pushed the panel a little too hard, to try and be controversial but it was also entertaining. Here, it was discussed why the panelists endorse a band and why they’d consider using a band to promote a certain product and my conclusion from this panel, was if you’re not selling out arenas, the chances of one of these guys picking you up is pretty slim……work harder people, you may get there one day.

The next topic was very interesting, especially when you consider the many ways in which you can get your music heard these days.

Exposed

Getting your music exposure across Radio, TV and Streaming services.

PRESENTED BY: Chachaman
MODERATED BY: Steve Agar – (The Plugger) Chachaman
PANELISTS:
Alex Herron – Scuzz TV Channel Manager & Creative Producer
Moose – Head of Radio TeamRock.
Dan Hudson – Presenter Kerrang Radio
Justin Percival – Entertainment and Marketing Manager MixRadio.
Alison Butters – Music Supervisor, CORD Worldwide.

Once upon a time, the likes of Radio 1, Radio 2 and even Top of the Pops could make an artist into a rock star. These days however, there are so many more platforms in which bands can get exposure and it was discussed whether these modern formats are a more viable way of getting your music heard. It was largely debated whether the radio is still the way forward or whether platforms such as Spotify, or the introduction of Apple music was the future? It’s been suggested that the larger radio stations have forgotten about rock music, yet their recent playlist sees many rock acts being added and getting airplay, so is the likes of Planet Rock the only champion for this genre, seemingly not? Spotify recently stated that metal music fans are the most loyal, although that seems like a plus if you’re in a metal band, it’s actually a negative, as metal fans are less likely to explore and discover new music, therefore loyal, in this instance means they tend to stick to the bands they already know.

It’s largely accepted that times have changed and streaming is the way forward, but not enough is currently being done to ensure the artists are getting what they deserve. Is the answer for artists to take their catalogues off these streaming site or should managers and record labels be working harder at getting their artists the payment they deserve, so they can sustain a living and continue to produce new music? From what I can gather, if you’re lucky enough to get onto a radio 1 playlist, you don’t need much in the way of help, so the advice is – use whatever you have at your disposal to get your band heard.

A Managers View

PRESENTED BY: 7pm Management
MODERATED BY: Seven Webster – Owner – 7pm management.
PANELISTS:
Ian Johnson – Owner Mythophonic management (Enter Shikari)
Danny Bowes – Singer / Manager – Thunder / Solid Music Management
Martijn Swier – Owner Endless Music and Manager (Within Temptation)
Jamie Osman – Manager at Red Light Management (Lower Than Atlantis)
David Rowell – Manager at Micronation / Autonomy ( Feeder)
Andy Farrow – Managing Director Northern Music Company (Opeth / Devin Townsend)

This panel could be seen as the top of the food chain for many and hearing them speak was inspiring but what does their job actually entail? After a brief introduction from each of the panelists, it was asked how each became a band manager? In the case of Ian Johnson, Enter Shikari’s manager, he was a friend of the bands who enjoyed socialising with them, grew up with them and ended up managing them. For Danny Bowes singer for Thunder, after years of working with managers, he decided he’d put all that knowledge to good use and felt he was the best person to make the right decisions for his band going forward. He also applied that knowledge to managing other bands. So, in short, a manager should be the one person looking out for the bands best interest, without fleecing or making poor decisions on their behalf. If you can get someone who can do this for you, you’re onto a winner but finding a good manager is hard to do, so be careful when you’re in a position to get a manager. Ultimately it seems more and more bands are trying to learn the business and do it for themselves and this is where conferences like this come in handy. Being in a band should be seen as any other job, just playing the shows isn’t going to cut it, you need to be in it for the long haul if you’re determined to make it.

To finish the day, we had a quick seminar on how you can collecting revenues from sites like Youtube and Vevo. My advice is to look for tutorials on the internet to help you achieve this as it’s a good idea – especially when your band’s popularity grows and people start looking for more of your work.

After a quick drink in the Richmix bar, people made their way to a coach which took everyone to the Oslo bar in Hackney, owned by the DHP family for “Rock tales and Cocktails” courtesy of Jagermeister, where we got to sample “many” of my new favourite drink, Jagermeister and ginger ale…umm lovely, along with food and many conversations with many like minded people. All in all a very insightful day indeed.

Day 2 to follow.

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)