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Un-Convention Manchester 2023

This year's Manchester conference, taking place on the 20th and 21st of October, will be our 111th event and coincides with the 15th Anniversary of Un-Convention.
We are excited to be working with some brilliant partners from both the UK and Europe to deliver this year's conference and look forward to welcoming hundreds of people from music scenes across the UK to Manchester this autumn, 

The first wave of speakers announced for this year's event can be found here. We are also pleased to announce  the first eight
 panel themes for this year's event. Further panels, speakers, keynote sessions and timings will be announced soon.

Watch Again from our Archive

As we finalise details for this year's Manchester conference we have put together an archive of some of the panels and discussions from our 2021 event which can be accessed here


Un-Con Panel 2020.jpg

The State of the Nation

To open the conference programme, this discussion covers the current state of the independent music sector in the UK. What are the strengths and weaknesses of the scene at the moment from the perspective of artists, venues, record labels and festivals, and what are the key challenges we face in sustaining and growing a prosperous and equitable industry?  

The Musicians' View

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 musicians? 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. 

Labels in the Attention Economy

Record labels have always shouldered more than their fair share of risk in the music industry. Believing in talent and putting their money where their mouth is has meant they have been at the forefront of defining popular culture for the last seventy years. 

In this session we look at how labels are coping in the modern landscape. Streaming is booming, but the attention economy is fierce, and with tens of thousands of songs released each day how do labels make sense of it all? Here we meet a range of labels that are adapting to the new ways of music consumption, to get an insight into how we can successfully champion music in the modern world.

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 can be saturated, and social media seems to rewrite the rules on a regular basis and it is the artist manager who must figure it all out and try and stay 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.

Well-being in Music
We work in an industry with seemingly constant pressure, one where adulation and criticism can be a daily occurrence. Financial and emotional risk are almost a prerequisite for artists and those who seek to champion them, and moreover there is often little security, structure, or sense of longevity to much of it. It can be a tough gig, and that’s not always easy to deal with both mentally and physically. Here we consider the specific challenges the industry presents to our well-being, and how we can help ourselves and each other to better cope.

The Independent Live Sector

This panel will explore the current independent live sector. Few sectors in the world have been impacted quite like the live music industry in recent years. Having come through substantial disruption the sector is now back up and running, but there are very real challenges ahead. Audiences are behaving differently, the cost-of-living crisis is impacting sales and Brexit has added a new layer of complexity for artists, promoters, venues, and festivals. Alongside this, the financial challenge for grassroots venues remains an ongoing issue. In this panel we explore what is an isn’t working for those working at the coalface of the live industry. 

DIY Careers and Scenes
Whereas once DIY may have been seen as a path taken by those ignored by the established industry, it is increasingly an active choice for those wishing to avoid the pressure and restrictions more mainstream approaches can place on their art. However, although the internet continues to empower artists to seize the tools of production and provides them with the potential to go faster and further than ever before, at the same time it makes attention an ever-scarcer commodity. In this session we hear how independent artists are forging their own path and are managing to find audiences in the modern music landscape. 

Developing Regional Music Scenes

A discussion on the current challenges of music scenes around the UK. Expanding on the work of the Regional Music Scenes Network this session seeks to share ideas and best practice between those championing independent music from towns and cities across the country. A look at what is and isn’t working in various scenes with a view to developing strategies to help support music making in the future.

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