SoundExchange Uk state of play conference live blog

Thursday 1 November 09:30

I’m at the Sound Exchange State of Play Conference 2012 (#sop2012) where I’ll be tweeting snippets of the panelists, recording some audio and potentially doing some live blogging too!

This year (appropriately given recent news) the conference is entitled Weathering the Storm – making a living in music in difficult times. Speakers at the event include Sound and Music’s Richard Whitelaw (@richwhitelaw), Tomorrow’s Warriors Janine Irons, Andy Ellis from Landslide Management, Adrian Cooke from Music East, Phil Pethybridge from ARU, Ben Lane from Arts Council and Julia Payne – Sound Exchange chair and director of the hub.


Lyndall Rosewarne opens the event by introducing Sound Exchange (@soundexchangeuk) as a resource for musicians in the Essex area. Pointing people to the web site – and especially the sound exchange music map which make it easy to find information about all things music in Essex. It’s a live resource where musicians can upload their own information.

Ben Lane on The Arts Council’s Approach to Talent Development


Talent development is one of 13 priorities for Arts Council England. The Council achieves it through a variety of means:-

Firstly Grants for the Arts. Open access lottery funded programme with grants ranging from £1000 to £100,000 and is open to individual and organisations. However one of the main drivers behind the fund is public benefit and that can be a conflict with artist development. Another key criteria is quality and that can be difficult in terms of talent development (lack of track record and so on)

Bad news out of the way.

GFA does though fund research and development work and this can be a route in for talent development work (see later section on funding).

Ben notes that ACE often finds it easier to serves talent development through organisations – both through GFA and through NPO (National Portfolio Organisations). ACE often finds that organisations are able to better provide on going support, fulfill governmental accountability requirements. In the East this means working through organisations like Norwich Arts Centre (Escalator Music)

The second route in is through Music Education Hubs. Education is the place where talent development starts – providing key first opportunities to practice and provide access. Ben explains his personal metaphor for talent development – ‘the inverted T of talent development’ (the horizontal section representing access as wide as possible, the vertical representing talent development as high as possible).

Other ways in include ‘qualified music educator’. Equivalent to A level – a kite mark for music educators. Its not a replacement for a PGCE but a stepping stone – and goes live in 2013.

The Creative Employment Programme – a fund of £15m spread across 3 years – to help creative industries employ individuals currently unemployed. Essentially its a match funding scheme – more news to be announced next week.

Finally Ben moves onto some research into commerical music and the relationship ACE has with that. In the commercial music sector things move very quickly (so GFA with its 6-12 week turn around can be inpractical). The research has said that there is a very strong DIY culture, with plenty of talent out there. The commerical industry is changing and record lables no longer invest in talent in the way that they used to. Artists now have to ‘do it themselves’. The digital age has democratised the sector – more people engaing and taking part, but that means more noise too. How you progress through that is a key question….Ben recomends a strong work ethic, being both digital savy and savy in promoting yourself. But the research also recognised the importance of the infrastructure around artists (including managers, producers, promoters) and the importance of developing audiences (key in that is touring and getting out there performing). Look out for some new announcements in how ACE will support talent development in the ‘commercial’ music sector soon.

Talent Development is key to ACE both in terms of developing better art, and supporting artist development.

Richard Whitelaw of Sound and Music (@richwhitelaw)

Richard introduces Sound and Music– an organisation where talent development is key. Artist development is at the centre of what the org does. Much of the work to date has been focused on early career to mid career artists. SAM works in everything from contemporary classical to work with sound, from the avant garde to interdisciplinary work. Feeder programmes include embedded (artist residency programme – matching artists with host organisations inc BBC Symphony Orchestra, BCMG, the Forestry Commission), adopt a composer (with making music) pairing composers with amateur music organisations and portfolio.

Then there is more general activity including training, workshops, seminars.

SAM find people through open calls for work – which keeps the organisation close to current practice – whats happening musically on the ground. Ultimately SAM look to develop artists through the emerging artist stage onto mid career where SAM might have a role in working with them internationally.

Sound and Music is currently undergoing a consultation process on the organisation and its future direction – so anyone interested is welcome to check out the Sam website

Andy Ellis

Andy has been working in the industry for some 25 years! Pretty much all of it has been in and around artist development.

Andy started by talking about what he looks for in an artist (over and above just simply talent)

1. compatability – its got to be the right artist for me and Ive got to be the right manager for them. Its a relationship – if I feel I can go for a beer with someone I feel as though I can probably work with them.
2. commerciality – I have to make a living!
3. capacity for hard work – am I convinced by the artist to put the hours in.

All that said its a great time to be in the music industry. The digital platforms have levelled the playing fields. Everyone has the potential to be an international artist – though its not a great time to shift huge volumes of ‘pieces of plastic’.

The playing field has opened up to everyone – so how do you separate yourself? And that’s where the hard work comes in.

Janine Irons

(tomorrows warriors dune records
‘Its not a race its a journey’ –

‘jazz is hard…but not impossible’

‘theres funding around…you just need to be savy about it’

Janine talked about the drive behind Dune and Tomorrows Warriors. Janine starting points were somewhat different to Andy Ellis. Not just how much money artists can make us – but also how we can help artists make the work they want to do.

Initially started Dune as part of a 360 package of support for artists. Interestingly in the new digital age we dont really need the label now. Its almost a full time job just promoting yourself on the internet.

Our new model is based around our residency at the Southbank Centre. More established musicians mentor younger musicians, providing opportunities for performances and networking. Giving young people the opportunity to work with professional musicians, especially supporting young and emerging female jazz artists (there is a lot of tetesterone on the band stand). Providing support (contacts, press packs, funding advice, recording support). Supporting developing artists to get out and about – making people know who you are and what you do.

Creatively its about being distinctive.

But it is hard….and getting harder.

Sell Sell Sell – get out there and get noticed
Phil Pethybridge talking about his portfolio career – as a lecturer, marketer, programmer (at Secret Garden and Cambridge Folk Festival), freelance journalist for BBC Introducing

Adrian Cooke is a director of CME, run Norwich Sound and Vision, sit on the steering group for Escalator Music, run Portmanteu, run a record label, 3 children and a house.

Teaching and Learning – low down on the music hubs

Ben Lane introduces Music Hubs

Music Hubs have emerged as a result of the Henley report (music education). One of the key observations concluded that coverage is patchy, that there are a lot of players but that not all of it is joined up. A key recommendation was to shift away from local authority music services to music hubs. This led to the Importance of Music – A National Plan for Music Education

Arts Council have been selected as the organisation to manage ‘music hubs’ Alan Davey CEO of Arts Council said ‘“The goal is to make sure that children and young people have the opportunity to experience the richness of the arts. We look forward to working with music education hubs to enhance and develop music education provision across the country.”

Key aspects of music hubs are twofold

Making sure Music education is accessible to every child aged 5-18
And that Music hubs will work in partnership with a range of local organisations to achieve their aims

Lyndall Rosewarne introduces the music hub in Essex which is a partnership between:-

Essex Music Services
Sound Exchange
Colchester Institute
ROH Bridge Programme (based in Thurrock)

£4m was awarded to the Essex Hub led by Essex County Council (more details here)- much of that is invested in the already existing peripatetic teaching across the county.

There are three music hubs in Essex , 122 in all across the country.

Teaching and Learing
Michael Davidson – Head of Rock, Family and Community Music passionately talked us through a case study of how music can be used to engage families and young people. Martin Case talking about his experience of using music in YOI (young offenders institutes) at the same time noting that much of his professional work has come out of networking opportunities (like State of Play events). Michael goes onto recommend delegates sign up for the Youth Music Network (details here).

Martin Case interview

Teaching and Learning

70% of MU membership teach (part of the portfolio career) but only 20% say its their sole role. The MU provides advice, training and support to music teachers, provide public liability insurance (through membership) together with professional indemnity insurance. Details here

Money Money Money
Chair Julia Payne, contributors Ben Lane and Lyndall Rosewarne

A whistle stop tour of the best places to look for funding (and by no means comprehensive):-

Public Funding

Grants for the Arts / Arts Council
Lottery funding. Open access. Public benefit is key (its not about self its about the all). Funds individuals and organisations. Awards range from £1000-£100,000. Its a one size fits all scheme.

Exploring how public benefit works in terms of professional development / r and d. There are several ways of doing it
– how will it benefit the public in the long term
– use language carefully in the application (so the phrase artists need to tour to develop a fan base in GFA terms would be better as the tour helps to develop the audience)

More info on grants for the arts are here (including criteria).

Top tip one – dont follow the money – but do be canny about the way you express your need. (Ben Lane)

Top tip two – if your GFA gets knocked back do ask for feedback

Mention too for the Heritage Lottery funds, the Big Lottery and the Nesta/AHRC?Arts Council Digital R+D fund

Youth Music Charity
Looking for music projects that will have an impact on young people (usually up to 18, but in certain circumstances up to 25). At least 75% must be outside of school hours. Looking for ongoing sustained, work – at least 6 months regular contact. Can include performances, peer mentoring.

Youth Music is an outcome funder – when you apply you have to state which outcomes you are going to deliver. Its much more in line with social and educational policy rather than cultural policy. You then report against how you have delivered against those outcomes

Full details are on the web site here

About 30% of applications are funded

Top tip 3 – Read the small print carefully (LR)

Julia Payne runs through her top 10 fundraising tips – details on the sound exchange site here

Escalator Music (East)

Runs out of Norwich Arts Centre. It’s a regional programme which facilitates the development of emerging artists. Open access programme.

Essex County Council

The Arts Unit does have some small grant (max £2k) full details on their web site.

Trusts and Foundations

Worth checking out this useful fundraising tool from the Musicians Benevolent Fund.

The PRSF foundation (Performing Rights Society Foundation) – the UKs largest specialist funder of new music. Two deadlines – February and August each year – details on the site here. It’s a two stage application – stage one is relatively brief – what you want to do together with a couple of clips which the assessors do look for. If you get through to stage 2 then you are asked for some more detailed information.

The web site is very comprehensive and includes the main grants scheme and other specialist schemes and projects (ie women make music , adopt a composer, british music abroad). They are friendly, helpful and have a great applications team!

Other mentions to the BBC Performing Arts Fund

Crowd Funding

Phil Pethybridge talking about how a band had used pledge fundraising to raise £10,000

Great way of engaging with your audience, of managing your cash flow but works best for those bands/ groups with a strong fan base and where the artist is actively engaging with an audience. Can be very time intensive

Wikipedia has a comparison of crowdfunding sites are here.


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