Thanks to everyone who made it along to the 106th Un-Convention in Manchester.
It was a real privilege for us to host so many inspirational and influential professionals from the Independent music sector for our first in-person conference since the start of the Coronavirus pandemic.
We'll be announcing plans for our next events soon, in the meantime you can WATCH AGAIN some of this year's panels and conversations below.
THE MUSICIANS' VIEW
presented in association with the Musicians’ Union
For this session we hear from a range of musicians about their experiences of working in music. What are the skills, traits and breaks that helped them to succeed, and what lessons have they learned that they would pass on to fellow artists? We also consider if the career prospects for musicians have changed over the years and whether the industry is becoming more or less artist friendly.
Steve Lawson — Moderator
IN CONVERSATION WITH FRANK TURNER
Frank’s career as an artist has spanned two decades. Renowned for his prolific touring he has played nearly two and half thousands shows around the world. He is also a true champion of independent music and is a key supporter of the Music Venue Trust’s ‘Save Our Venues Campaign’. Through a series of livestream events, he has helped to raise hundreds of thousands of pounds to support grassroots venues around the country. In this session Frank will talk about his career and his work to support the sector.
Steve Lawson – Moderator
Frank Turner (Artist)
IN CONVERSATION WITH ED O'BRIEN
Ed is a founding member of Radiohead. Formed in 1985, the band have sold more than 30 million records worldwide. They have achieved 7 top ten hits in the UK, won 6 Grammy Awards, are the most nominated band in Mercury Prize history, and in 2019 were inducted into the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame. Ed has recorded 9 studio albums with Radiohead, and in 2020 released his first solo record ‘Earth’ on Capitol Records, under the name EOB.
As well as his work as a musician Ed is a founding member of the Featured Artist Coalition, set up to protect the rights of featured musical artists. In this session Ed will discuss his career and his wider work to support music creators.
John Robb - Moderator
Ed O’Brien (Radiohead)
DEVELOPING REGIONAL MUSIC SCENES
A discussion on the current challenges of music scenes around the UK. The
Regional Music Scenes Network has been set up to help share ideas and best practice between those championing independent music across the country, from large cities to towns and rural areas. The purpose of the network is to identify what is and isn’t working in various scenes with a view to developing strategies to help support music making in the future. This session will reflect on the impact the pandemic has had on different music scenes across the country, look at best practice that has developed over this period, and explore ideas of how we can ensure music scenes can restart, grow and continue to play a vital role in their local communities.
Jez Collins (Birmingham Music Archive) - Moderator
Rose Goodship (Cornwall Music Network)
Adam Daly (Hastings Fat Tuesday)
Yasin El Ashrafi (HQ Familia. Leicester)
Jay Landman (Pillar Artists, Newcastle)
Chris Sherrington (The Fulford Arms, York)
THE STATE OF THE NATION
This discussion covers the current state of the independent music sector in the UK. From the perspective of artists and managers, venues, publishers and festivals, how do we stand, and where are things going? What are the key challenges we face in recovering, growing and sustaining a prosperous and equitable industry?
Gordon Masson (IQ Magazine) — Moderator
Lucie Caswell (Music Publishers Association)
Paul Reed (Association of Independent Festivals)
Beverley Whitrick (Music Venue Trust)
Annabella Coldrick (Music Managers Forum)
Un-Convention is delighted to be part of a European-wide fellowship programme, funded by Creative Europe and working alongside MaMA (France), Nouvelle Prague (Czech Republic), Linecheck (Italy), MIL (Portugal) and Athens Music Week (Greece) to support innovative music professionals. 2021 is the third year of the fellowship, which to date has worked with 45 new business ideas and projects, ranging from VR and AI tech platforms to initiatives around mental health and environmental impact. We will be making a presentation about the project, the participants, and their exciting new ideas for the music industries.
Jeff Thompson (Un-Convention)
WHAT WE LEARNT WHEN EVERYTHING STOPPED
This has been a year to rethink and reassess. An enforced separation from one another and our audiences has meant that many people working in music have had to adapt to new ways of working and connecting. It has also given us time to reflect on how the industry used to work, and to consider whether this pause has given us an opportunity to make better choices as we restart. In this session we consider what lockdown has taught us, and the positives we can take from having to rethink how we do things.
Stewart Baxter (LIFE) - Moderator
Sara Leigh Shaw (Drummer, Songwriter and Producer)
LNA (Producer, Songwriter and Performer)
Laurie Vincent (Slaves)
Nathan Clark (Brudenell Social Club)
KEYNOTE SPEECH FROM ANDY BURNHAM
Andy Burnham was elected Mayor of Greater Manchester in May 2017, and was re-elected for a second term in May 2021. As part of his 2021 manifesto Andy committed to establishing a Music Commission that will support and promote music in Greater Manchester and beyond. The commission will hold its first meeting in Summer 2021. Prior to being Mayor, Andy was MP for Leigh from 2001. In Government, Andy has held Ministerial positions at the Home Office, Department of Health and the Treasury. In 2008 he became Secretary of State for Culture, Media and Sport, before returning to Health as Secretary of State in 2009. In opposition, Andy has served as Shadow Education Secretary, Shadow Health Secretary and Shadow Home Secretary
Andy Burnham, Mayor of Greater Manchester
STREAM IF YOU WANT TO GO FASTER
Connecting with audiences online is nothing new for the music industry, but in the last year the restrictions on live events have meant many artists and organisations have had to develop new strategies to engage with fanbases. Equally with audiences themselves confined to their homes, the need to deliver exciting and meaningful experiences through laptop and phone screens became both a challenge and a priority for many. In this session we talk to artists and organisations that have been able to adapt to the situation, and who have been able to build communities, and create memorable musical moments in the most difficult of circumstances. We also consider what the legacy of this new way of reaching audiences could be.
Shell Zenner (BBC Introducing / Amazing Radio) – Moderator
Kapil Seshasayee (Artist)
Marie-Claire Daly (StreamGM)
Pauline Macocco (Driift)
Thom Rylance (The Lottery Winners)
BUILDING A BETTER MUSIC INDUSTRY
The impact of the Covid-19 pandemic has been overwhelming for many parts of the independent music sector. Inevitably much time and energy has been spent navigating this crisis, however, as we start to think beyond the current situation it is vital that we do not lose sight of the other issues threatening the future prosperity of music makers and those that support them. A live industry already decimated by long-term closure will now face the added complications of post-Brexit touring, whilst the business models of many grassroots venues remain fragile, even as things begin to reopen. Elsewhere, inequality and lack of transparency around income streams continue to plague artists, both in the live and recorded sectors. The industry before the pandemic was far from perfect, where often the wants and needs of artists, record labels, promoters and booking agents seemed to be at odds with one another. In this session we explore what is still broken in the industry, who is responsible, and how we can work together to start to fix it.
Jeff Thompson - Moderator
Andy Carthy (Mr Scruff)
Bev Whitrick (Music Venue Trust)
Kelly Wood (Musicians’ Union)
David Martin (Featured Artists Coalition)
IN CONVERSATION WITH STUART BRAITHWAITE
Stuart is a founding member of Mogwai who have recorded ten studio albums together over the last 26 years. The band’s latest album, ‘As The Love Continues’, released in February 2021, was met with critical acclaim and reached number 1 in the UK album chart. The album was predominately written, recorded and produced in lockdown. In this session Stuart will discuss his career spanning two and half decades, and his experience of creating, promoting and releasing an album in such unusual circumstances.
John Robb - Moderator
Stuart Braithwaite (Mogwai)
MODERN MUSIC MANAGEMENT
Artists’ careers are evolving in a myriad of ways in the modern music landscape, and now more than ever managers are having to navigate the complexities of developing talent, building fanbases and finding new markets in an ever-changing environment. Fans’ attention is hard fought, listening behaviour is transforming, the live sector has been in turmoil and social media seems to rewrite the rules on a regular basis. It is the artist manager who has to make sense of it all and try to keep one step ahead. In this panel we hear from a range of artist managers about their experience of supporting talent and building careers in a turbulent industry.
Annabella Coldrick (MMF) – Moderator
Conrad Murray (Blossoms, Cabbage, The Coral, Courteeners,
Ian Brown, Inhaler, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott
and The Stone Roses)
Shikayla Nadine (Rebecca Garton / Levelle London)
Megan Burns (Tone Artists)
Carline Trout (Everything Everything, Django Django, Nilüfer Yanya,
Alfie Templeman, Jessica Winter, Ben Matravers and Jake Miller)