From January 30 – February 1, London Music Conference hosted over 70 workshops, gear demonstrations, talks and panels to help emerging electronic artists engage with and break into the music industry, with the event’s accompanying showcase festival providing a complementary discovery platform for fans.
Beyond the walls of the legendary Fabric nightclub in which it is housed, LMC goes further than many of its competitors by striving to build a year-round community of aspiring creatives – whether that’s through subscriptions, livestreams, or satellite events.
Insights attended LMC and spoke with its Director, Sam Speaight, about the main challenges in hosting the event, how it supports its surrounding community, and more.
Festival Insights: How does LMC differ in its offering from other emerging & electronic music conferences?
Sam Speaight: London Music Conference is an event built on a culture platform for electronic music which operates all year round. The platform comprises a wide range of components, including our online community, our Accelerator programme, the Beat Lab music education platform and the events we present throughout the year. These events include A&R clinics; meet-ups; and producer workshops for electronic music artists, labels and professionals. So you could say the conference is completely different to other similar events that exist in the UK and Europe.
FI: Tell us about the programme this year. What were the key areas you focussed on across the weekend?
SS: The content that comprised our 2020 programme was divided into three channels: the core panel and talks content, our tech workshop events, and our Beat Lab music production sessions. With over 70 events included in the final schedule there was something for everyone. I was particularly excited about our climate change panel featuring Matt Black, founder of Ninja Tune; and representatives from Extinction Rebellion. Matt’s one of my musical heroes and the folks behind the Extinction Rebellion movement are my personal heroes!
FI: What are the benefits of your various Community subscription tiers, and how effective have they been at increasing year-round engagement with the LMC brand?
SS: Our online community really exists as the beating heart of the culture platform that the conference is built on. LMC is ultimately an innovation conference that aims to create solutions for artists and music professionals. The Community platform creates individual, separate spaces for artists, labels and professionals from the electronic music industry and enables us to continue providing solutions to help and support them all year round. This not only helps us create a strong, engaged audience but also means we do what we say 24/7, rather than once a year.
FI: The Accelerator initiative seems like a great way to support emerging artists. What does it provide to successful applicants, and who are some of the key partners you work with to make it happen?
SS: The Accelerator is an ‘all year round’, evergreen programme of workshops, remix comps, A&R clinics and training sessions for electronic artists and labels in the first 10 years of their career pathways. It culminates each year in January around the conference, whereby we engage five labels from our label community to (each) release a single from one of the rising artists in our community. We put our weight behind the releases from a marketing and PR perspective and work with a range of partners including media publications like MusicTech and technology brands like Yamaha and Arturia to ensure the singles are well supported.
FI: The annual livestream is another example of LMC providing content that extends beyond the event itself. How vital to your mission and success is this kind of wider community outreach?
SS: Our streaming platform will become a vitally important part of our communication strategy in the next six months as we launch its VoD functionality. Once the VoD features go live, artists in our community will be able to publish content on the platform (much like one would on Youtube or Spotify) and keep 100% of the net revenue generated from advertising.
This is just another one of the many ways we aim to create novel solutions for artists and labels at the grass roots of the creative ecosystem that exists around electronic music culture.
FI: What have been the main challenges you’ve faced in building LMC and its surrounding support network?
SS: Surprisingly we’ve faced an uphill battle with gaining meaningful support from key media channels. As our business is run a bit like a social enterprise or non-profit, it has proven tricky to acquire the advertising budgets necessary in order to secure quality coverage. Our good friends at Mixmag are the exception to this, and their support has been absolutely outstanding and deeply meaningful. If only everyone in the media space were like Mixmag and recognised the fact that the value of events like ours can’t always be measured in pennies and pounds.
FI: On the subject of challenges, what do you think are the critical ones that unsigned musicians will face in 2020 and beyond?
SS: The hardest part about being an emerging artist today is the lack of access to resources and networks that are required to begin forging a profitable career. It’s really never been tougher for young artists and we have some very exciting plans to deliver strategies and solutions to help them overcome these problems.
FI: Is there anything else that we should know about London Music Conference?
SS: We’re working on building a partner ecosystem of UK and European festivals that specialise in electronic music and I’d like to extend a personal invitation to any of your readers who are involved in festival production at an executive level to get in touch to discuss some of the exciting opportunities we have available. Interested parties are welcome to contact me via email.