We joined forces with our friends at The Unsigned Guide for the latest article in our Emerging Artist Series.Read more
Tech savvy? Recently graduated? We're looking for the right candidate to help upgrade our internal systems...Read more
Don’t wait until it’s too late – make sure your events are covered with these top ten policies...Read more
What's in store for touring musicians post-Brexit? What else will be impacted by restricted freedom of movement? The outlook isn't good.Read more
Another one bites the dust. The now all-too familiar story of cultural loss in a city increasingly devoid of culture.Read more
Feeling creative? We're on the lookout for an enthusiastic, talented and motivated graphic designer to join our Plymouth-based family...Read more
Chris caught up with local venue managers to share what music promoters look for when being approached by new acts.Read more
What to look out for and how to ensure that the people you love don't suffer in silence.Read more
Where did it all fall apart? In defence of the beleaguered compact discRead more
Maker Heights provides affordable art studios and music spaces for the benefit of the communityRead more
So you've recorded your debut album? Nice work! What's next? Well, all of this basically...Read more
Grassroots venues are disappearing fast. For the music industry to survive, the show must go on...Read more
DMS music writer Darren Johns delves into how Record Store Day has evolved since it began 10 years ago.Read more
It's not too late! Top tips for bands applying for those last few 2018 festival slots...Read more
We caught up with the ISM to talk about the decline of our music scene and how to fix itRead more
Brighton folk quintet bag 250 colour records and £1000 of Awesome merch in recent competitionRead more
In a Band? Dream of Starting A Label? You Could Win 250 Colour Records In Custom Sleeves and £1000 of Awesome Merchandise...Read more
DMS Action a 5 Year Financial Support Plan and Begin Accumulating Further Donations of TechnologyRead more
DMS Continue to Support Association of Independent Music at Their Annual ConferenceRead more
Today Could Mark a Significant Turning Point in The Future Of The British Music IndustryRead more
DMS Link Up With AIM Once Again To Support Our Vibrant Independent Music SectorRead more
We all love them now, but where did the vinyl record originate?Read more
Simon Dobson Conducted The Accompanying Parallax OrchestraRead more
The Pedal Powered Adventurer Cycled The Length or Norway, By BoatRead more
Mike Mathieson of Mad Dog McRea Has Always Supported Emerging TalentRead more
DMS & AIM To Host The Great Escape Festival Opening Drinks ReceptionRead more
DMS Team Up With Southwest Racing Driver To Battle For The Porsche Carrera CupRead more
DMS Collaborate With Major Artists On An African Sustainable Education MissionRead more
Positivity & Exploration - Dave Cornthwaite vs The Mississippi RiverRead more
From Designer to Adventurer - Why We Love Dave Cornthwaites' StyleRead more
DMS Join Forces With Legendary Southwest Sailor Pete Goss MBERead more
Conrad Humphreys Launches the ‘Blue Climate And Oceans Project'Read more
5th March 2018
After attending the inaugural FastForward:London music conference last year and quickly getting drawn in by the forward-thinking and positive attitudes of the panels, attendees and organisers alike, we thought we’d send a few of our crew over to Amsterdam to check out what their two-day flagship conference was all about. Sam and Tom, oldest surviving DMS member and newest recruit respectively, and both musicians and designers in their own rights, were quick to take up the offer. What could possibly go wrong? We pass over to Tom from here on out to report on their European adventure…
So our morning started much like most at DMS HQ, fingers tapping away furiously, the seemingly non-stop ringing of the phone, a cacophonic soundclash battling it out in the hallway between our various soundsystems. This morning was different however, in that next to each of our desks our rucksacks were packed, and as the rest of the team started peeling off to take lunch, Sam and I set our out-of-office messages and headed for Exeter airport. After the friendliest Devonshire security check and the shortest walk to the departure gate in aviation history, we boarded the archaic twin prop plane and rose to the skies, blinked once, and touched down in Amsterdam.
That night was the first of the FastForward networking events. Finding the venue was a challenge in observation, and perhaps sobriety. That is to say, anyone who rocked up the Dam and immediately indulged in the local traditions would likely have had their work cut out navigating closed bridges and rerouted roads around construction sites. Conveniently though, Sam and I are model citizens, so after a small amount of staring at maps apps like confused tourists, we stumbled down a small set of unmarked steps that seemingly led straight into the water, and into the warmth of the appropriately-named Delirium Café.
We arrived in a similar fashion at the revered Muziekgebouw aan’t IJ the next morning, a beautifully contemporary music hall, innovative by both design and practise and set to be our daytime home for the next two days. Unlike other conferences we’ve attended in the past, walking into a FastForward event feels more like arriving at a bar to meet your new girlfriend’s mates for the first time and feeling instantly welcome and comfortable by the fact they’re all really nice. The man with the vision, co-founder Chris Carey, is always on hand to encourage that ethos. This is someone whose company Media Insight Consulting have provided data interpretation and strategy to some of the biggest music companies out there right now, yet who will still remember your name and the entirety of your last conversation.
The first day kicked off with the first of many keynotes, Artist Entrepreneurship with the man of a thousand talents, ShaoDow. A veritable Elon Musk of the musical world, ShaoDow is a multi-linguist, winner of AIM’s most recent ‘Hardest Working Artist’ award and clearly a rewriter of the rule book. He seems to effortlessly juggle running his company DIY Gang, his self-created merch lines and a manga comic, while ever-expanding his linguistic horizons and most likely dabbling in a multitude of other such projects that he failed to even mention. An inspirational start, if ever there was one. Following this the first panel kicked into action, with speakers including Catherine Lückhoff of South African NicheStreem, and Jeremy Pritchard of Everything Everything.
More insightful panels followed after lunch, with a ‘Future of Merch’ session focusing on the shift in how artists now generate their income with the growth of streaming services that notoriously don’t pay emerging artists properly, and how using data is ultimately key to understanding what your fans really want. Renowned performer Dan le Sac, who built his reputation in a DIY fashion many moons ago, spoke at length around the issues that face artists choosing similar paths today; battling the ever-growing online saturation of self-releasing artists and the struggle to carve out a niche in which to ride Facebook’s algorithms to victory. The ‘Importance of Music in Shaping Culture’ panel that ensued discussed the boom of grime artists from often-impoverished inner city areas, how their culture and their music are intrinsically one and the same, and how a widespread social connection to what grime artists stand for built this sub-genre from garage to Glastonbury.
The first day of FastFifteen sessions – a chance for leading professionals well-versed in the fringe topics relating to the music industry to pass on their knowledge – were packed with valuable information. From a crash course in data privacy built around the upcoming changes in data protection laws, to an insightful look at the music industry’s future-favourite technological advance, blockchain, and how the potential applications for the music industry are beyond comprehension, if setup properly. Admittedly, after three different talks on blockchain we still weren’t convinced we knew what it was, so clearly setting it up properly may pose a substantial challenge to some. The day ended with a panel on the future of advertising, moderated by Liz Stokes of Record of the Day, and an hour ‘Meet the Speakers’ networking event as the sun set over the waterways of Amsterdam.
After an evening sampling the delights of the famous JD William’s Whisky Bar, which to Sam’s dismay didn’t stock a single tot of rum, the second day of FastForward 2018 began bright and early with another round of FastFifteen presentations from the likes of Soundcloud and The Orchard. The first keynote of the morning was a look into the ‘Future of News’, where we learned that the way we consume news in the 21st century – ever-more via social media which gives weight to soundbites and sensationalist headlines – risks distorting the real issues at hand and watering down debate. On the topic of his change of professional direction, speaker Owen Braben, a former ITV and Sky News journalist, satirically admitted that with the election of Donald Trump and Britain’s vote for Brexit, it seemed an appropriate time for him to move into comedy.
After another exquisite lunch at the Delirium Café, we got stuck in to the afternoon’s panels, which began with a complex dive into the world of secondary ticketing. This is a field in which the vast majority of gig-goers know very little about, yet which can have massive effects on their ability to attend shows. After much debate, it was confessed that short of only selling tickets at the door on the night, which clearly would create its own problems for promoters, venues and punters alike, there aren’t yet any clear solutions out there to categorically prevent touts from reselling tickets at vastly inflated price. That said, much work is being done. The UK Government has banned the use of bots to purchase tickets and decreed that all tickets resold must advertise the original retail price, and major festivals like Boomtown and Glastonbury now require registration and photo ID and offer their own buy back and resale options.
The title of the final panel really sums up what FastForward is all about, the Future of the Music Industry. Bringing together young musicians and entrepreneurs from all aspects of the melting pot that is the music business, and calling upon them to be as much as part of the debate as the people up on the stage is a method that clearly works. Now in their third year and spanning three continents, Chris and Michael are fast creating a valuable network that reaches the very outer echelons of the music industry while maintaining a focused, balanced and inclusive vision for the future.