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Rockcomm 2015 – Day 2

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

After what can only be described as a successful first day, the second day promised to be just as inspiring with another series of talks geared around the rock music industry. With a new batch of panelists scheduled to appear today, we had just enough time to register and get several cups of coffee down us, as some of us were nursing a hangover from the Rocktails and Cocktails event held last night – thank you Jagermeister!

Again, both Seven and Steve opened the days talks with their keynote address and having listened to people’s comments, they reiterated to the crowd that this event was for their benefit, so should anyone have any questions they should speak up,or forever hold their piece!

Long Live Rock

MODERATED BY: Scott Rowley – Editorial Director TeamRock (Classic Rock Magazine, MetalHammer , Prog & The Blues Magazine)
PANELISTS:
Billy Anderson – CEO TeamRock.
Mark Palmer – Managing Director UK Nuclear Blast Records.
Adam Parsons – Siren Artist Management, Black Star Riders.
Keith Hagan – Co-Owner SKH Music (US.)
Howard Corner – General Manager ADA and Warner Label Services
Toby Jepson – Singer – Little Angels / Gun

With the wealth of knowledge that Scott Rowley possess, he was the perfect person to chair this panel especially when you consider the panelists that featured for this talk. Nuclear Blast is a fantastic record label, who are signing a wealth of talent globally so to hear the thoughts of Mark Palmer on the future of rock was very interesting. Again, the discussions turned to the viability of getting your music played on the various formats available to bands and how they go about doing so. Billy Anderson agreed that times are changing and as a result, also acknowledged that radio stations like his, need to evolve if they are to continue helping bands make the big time. Not wanting to give too much away, he skirted around how he plans to achieve this but the general impression I got wasthat Team Rock Radio are looking to develop something similar to Apple Music and Spotify formats, which could be very exciting for the champions of rock music.

DIY

PRESENTED BY: Music Glue
MODERATED BY: Chris Cooke – MD and Business editor CMU Daily
PANELISTS:
Paul Barton – Managing Director PledgeMusic UK.
Arthur Brown – Singer / Artist (The Crazy World of Arthur Brown)
Mark Meharry – CEO Music Glue
Don Jenkins – Commercial Director Raw Power Management.
Tom Carson – Music Manager Jagermeister
Roy Jenkins – Owner Noise Merchandise
Dan Weller – Musician / Producer – Sikth

I’ve got to admit, trying to remember everything that was said in every panel is proving a challenge, as I didn’t take any notes because my hands were full, but this panel stood out as being one of the most enjoyable to witness, simply because Arthur Brown was on the panel. This panel aimed to educate the crowd on the best ways a new, up and coming or even seasoned veteran bands can do things for themselves. With sites such as Pledge Music now available, it’s never been easier for a band to self-promote or self-fund the creation of new albums or tours etc, as Paul Barton discussed. However, having successfully completing such a campaign, Arthur Brown pointed out that you need to be realistic what you offer your fans in order to get them to pledge. You don’t want to be in the middle of recording or touring a new album, then have to go and play in someone’s living room to honour your agreement – but this could also be very fun! Arthur then went on to explain that he and his band had to go down this route to finance his latest album as he couldn’t get a record deal because of some choice words he said publicly! haha, however, as a result of the Pledge campaign, he did, in fact, secure a record deal, due to the success of his pledge campaign.

Taking Care of Business

PRESENTED BY: PRS for music
MODERATED BY: Andy Ellis – Senior Manager, Education & Outreach Membership and Rights.
PRS for music PANELISTS:
Simon Winters – Prager and Fenton LLP Music Business Accountants
Andrew Sharland – Partner Clintons Solicitors
Mandy Aubry – Head of Client Relations Fintage House Music Publishing
Gideon Mountford – Head of Video(UK). International video business Development at Believe Digital

Being a rock star can be seen as a glamourous way to make a living, but if you’re successful, the chances are that those bands also have a pretty good grip on the less glamourous side of the business. On first appearance, this panel seemed the least interesting to me but as the talks started, I could actually relate to them and saw the benefits of what I do and as such, could implement some of the advice that these guys were giving. Did you know, if you’re in a band and are set up as a business, you can actually claim the tax back on all band related purchases, providing you keep the receipts? I also discovered there are ways to claim expenses back if your band are lucky enough to tour around Europe or even the world! I was also very interested in what Andrew Sharland had to say with regards to legal matters when dealing with contracts with record labels etc. Not everyone can afford a solicitor of this man’s stature, but if you’re a member of the Musicians Union, you can get sound advice from these guys and generally for free, off their website.

It’s worth mentioning that each day had an hours recess for lunch, which was provided by the organisers but you had to be fast, as there were some really hungry people at this conference and the Indian food was top notch!

Live Part 2

PRESENTED BY: The Musicians Union
MODERATED BY: Horace Trubridge – Assistant General Secretary The Musicians Union
PANELISTS:
Adam Saunders – Senior Booking agent X Ray Touring
Ian Richards – Promoter Academy Music Group
Paul Ryan – Vice President The Agency Group
Kai Harris- Director Advance Promotions /Takedown Festival
Ben Hylands – Owner IAA Booking agency
Jim Morewood – Owner – Eccentric Gent Org Booking agency

The topic of “Buy on’s” was brought up in this panel, which I was aware of but never really understood. This is where a headliner looks to earn money from a support band to enable them to be a part of their tour. Although this may seem like a good idea for the headliner to make some extra cash, it’s not always deemed a good idea and can be a nightmare for promoters. Getting your band seen by as many people as possible will always be considered a good idea, but if you’re offered to be the opening band on the night, will your band actually get seen as you’re on early, when the venue is most likely not full? There’s also the compatibility of bands that buy on to a tour. If you’re a trash metal band, there’s not much point being a part of a tour if the main act is a prog act. This is something promoters are currently struggling with, with some of today’s tours! Seemingly, you’d think these guys couldn’t care less but how wrong you are. Obviously, promoters want to sell tickets for a show, so getting the best fit bands to support the main act is key.

Rockcomm - Day 2

Festival Focus – Wacken Open Air

CHAIRED BY: Moose – Head of Radio Team Rock

Ever wondered how Waken Festival manages to sell out even before they’ve announced any bands that will be playing? Well, so has every other festival on the planet, so to get an insight to this festival’s success, Rockcomm invited founding member Thomas Jensen along to ask him what he thinks their secret ingredient is.

The truth is that not even he knows why, but there are some factors that may have contributed to making this festival a must go to event for every metal fan. Back in 1990, when this first festival was held, it was the only festival in Germany to showcase metal music. The bands that played were all German bands, which helped to showcase the talent in that country. By 1998 the festival started to attract acts from all over the world and that helped to attract metal music fans from all over the world too. In the early days, the facilities weren’t the best as Jensen explained, but we quickly learned from our mistakes. I’m assuming, seeing as this festival is in Germany, some of that German efficiency they are famous for started to creep in and as the lessons of the past were learnt, they simply went from strength to strength!

Jensen gave us some incredible stories from acts that he’d dealt with over the years, he also admitted he’s always wanted to book Metallica to play Waken but as the band only like to venture over to Europe in June, he’s not willing to change the date of his festival to suit them, amazing!

Rockin All Over the World

PRESENTED BY: Flight Centre
MODERATED BY: Marco Gandolfi – Editor www.music-news.com
PANELISTS:
Dan Devita – Booking agent TKO
Andy Farrow – Managing Director Northern Music Company
Thomas Jensen – Founder & Owner – Wacken Open Air Festival
Wally Van Middendorp – In De Goot Entertainment Europe
Merle Doering – Booking agent – Dragon Productions (Germany)

In this panel, we heard a few more stories from Thomas Jensen (Waken Open Air) but we also heard about what some of the larger acts go through when touring the world.

Released – Labels and Distribution

PRESENTED BY: Believe Digital
MODERATED BY: Toby Jepson (Little Angels)
PANELISTS:
Lee Morrison – General manager UK Believe Digital UK & SVP Rights Management Believe Group
Dan Tobin – A&R Director Earache Records
Dante Bonutto – Label/ A&R Manager Spinefarm Records
Rob Ferguson – Owner Founder Transcend Music
Nathan Barley Philips – CEO & Founder Basick Records
Alex Branson – SVP and Managing Director International – Ingrooves UK
Rob Collins – Managing Director – Cooking Vinyl UK.

Did you know that vinyl sales have had a resurgence in popularity amongst music fans lately and as a result, more bands are looking to put their new music onto this much-loved format? It’s even worth mentioning that CD sales are declining, when they were released everyone saw the end of vinyl, all but one person, who bought up all the old vinyl pressing plants in the hope that one day, a day like today would come and low and behold it has. As a result, there is now a massive waiting list for bands to get their music pressed onto vinyl!

Dan Tobin, of Earache admitted he discovered a band in a Spotify playlist and as a result of hearing them, he managed to sign them to his label, who currently sees a great variety of acts, several of which are topping the charts worldwide!

The general advice that came from this panel was that if you want to get signed, there are many ways you can get your music heard but these guys are so busy, they barely have enough time to listen to the stack of CD’s they already have on their desks, so think smart and do something different to attract their attention!

New Music

PRESENTED BY: The Rock Train
MODERATED BY: Mark Davies (the Rock Train)
PANELISTS:
Ian Camfield – DJ/Presenter XFM Radio Rock Show
Sophie K – DJ/Presenter TeamRock Radio (New Bands show)
Eugene Butcher – Owner Big Cheese Magazine & Vive Le Rock
Paul Anthony – DJ/ Presenter Planet Rock Radio
Kylie Olsson – TV & Radio Presenter – Sky TV / TeamRock Radio

This panel by enlarge, are responsible for airing new talent on their respective radio stations. Like the last panel before them, they too get inundated with new music but rarely get the chance to listen to them all but they do listen to them as they have to know their stuff, as the listeners can always spot a fake. If, like Paul Anthony, you’re old school, he loves nothing more than getting a well-presented CD in the post as that’s where he discovers his new music. If you’re up with the times and have your music available on Soundcloud, You tube or Spotify etc, then send your links to youngster Sophie K, as that’s how she likes to discover her music. It’s quick, easy and a wealth of other information can be attached to a band page if it’s kept up to date.

Either way, this panel were discussing ways in which new music can be discovered, whether that be through radio, magazines or streaming sites, so I asked a question, which had been discussed quite a lot these past few days “Is radio still a viable format to discover new music, or has Spotify killed the radio star?” Chair, Mark Davies believes a band likes nothing more than to hear their music on the radio, where Sophie K believes the more dated media formats need to evolve and get with the times! This was a great panel, chaired by a great guy, who I can safely call a friend – well done Tosh!

With the conference drawing to a close, it was time to reflect on what we’d learnt. Someone stated that none of the panelist got anything from this conference, yet many of the people they work with on a regular basis were at this event, so it was a fabulous opportunity for them to reconnect with friends old and new. For me, I feel the guys who appeared on the panels all did an amazing job and are already earning the respect of the music industry, as they are living proof that you can be successful in this industry. For them to give up their valuable time and share with us their valuable advice, people should see this as a great opportunity to learn and develop the skills that may stay with them for years to come.

If this event goes ahead next year, which I truly hope it does, I feel more bands in the rock genre should seriously consider buying a ticket to this conference as it truly was an eye opener for many!

With all the talking over, it was time to let off a little bit of steam and watch some bands at bar Oslo – as well as sinking a few more beers. Having made many new contacts, this gave me an opportunity to talk with them about the whole experience and how people could see themselves moving forward.

Seeing as this was a rock music conference, it was fitting to see acts such as Chemia, a great rock and roll act from Poland who are doing well on the live circuit. The One Hundred, who I thought were amazing, as did Sophie K. The Qemists, managed by Seven, who headed off to play Download and the Black Spiders, who are a very successful rock band and will be playing Hard Rock Hell in November. Sadly, I had work the next day, so I had a train to catch to get home, so apologies to them, but I’ll hopefully see you play HRH 9 in November!

Review and Photography by Jay Hawkins (JJ Photography UK)

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)