Last Thursday saw a 450 strong gathering of forward-thinking independents converge on Glazier’s Hall to participate in AIM’s revered Indie-Con event. The sold out conference offered a full day of insightful panels, interviews and keynotes covering an array of increasingly relevant topics, including a case study of Laura Marling’s successful album release campaign, tips on accessing Australian and New Zealand markets, and a heavyweight panel discussing what Brexit means for the music industry and movement of musicians and their touring parties. Other sessions covered the future of radio plugging, A&R in the digital age, mental health in music and a well-attended Let’s Get Physical talk on the growth and resurgence of the vinyl record, on which our main man Sam had a lot to say.
The attendees list boasted an impressive spread of labels, distributors and many of the music-centric organisations that comprise AIM’s ever-growing membership, and the panels fielded intelligent questions from rapt audiences that really served to highlight the credibility in the room and the relevance of AIM’s chosen topics. Imogen Heap’s enlightening discussion on her perception of the future of songwriting using tech like blockchain was a clear highlight for many, and the admittance that none of the political heavyweights on the Brexit panel could reassure anyone about Brexit didn’t go unnoticed by a bemused crowd. The latter panellists included the likes of Labour’s Hilary Benn and was chaired by UK Music’s Michael Dugher, who is widely recognised as one of the main instigators of the ‘Agent of Change’ movement to protect UK music venues, that the government recently pledged to adopt into future planning policy.
The morning began in typical London fashion, with severe delays across the tube affecting even the best laid plans, and the welcome speeches being pushed back to give delegates a chance to arrive. As title sponsor of the event, we were given the opportunity to say a few words of welcome and talk a little about some of the community projects that we’ve initiated or invested in, and which we continue to support to this day. As the only major supplier of vinyl records and discs in the Southwest, DMS have a rich history of supporting local creative ventures, educational projects, grassroots venues and emerging artists and labels from our region. Indie-con also marked the launch our latest vinyl offering, South X West Vol I, which we presented to a large majority of attendees throughout the day. The record demonstrates that it’s possible to produce a stunning record on a modest budget, while supporting a selection of emerging acts from our corner of the nation.
Throughout the day, the passion and strength of the independent sector was exhibited wherever we looked, from startup labels chatting excitedly or nervously about their new ventures, to established companies and recognisable faces deep in knowledgeable debates over key issue facing the music industry today. Events like Indie-Con play a vital role in continuing to fuel the growth of the independent sector – allowing us to share knowledge and opinion, debate key issues, inspire, be inspired, and of course make lasting connections that help everyone here grow and evolve together. Our collective strength as an industry is dependent on the individual strengths of every person working within it, and with the potential of further financial and political challenges on the horizon, there has never been a more important time for everyone operating within this vibrant sector to stick together.