Norwich Sound and Vision 2015: an introduction to editor Mary’s coverage

By on Tuesday, 13th October 2015 at 1:00 pm
 

The knowledge we’ve gained collectively at TGTF as a UK/US music Web site from major industry events has been absolutely amazing since I joined up as USA Editor in the spring of 2009 and while under my leadership as Editor since summer 2010; I’ve personally covered major music events on three continents and have had life experiences that I wouldn’t have traded for the world. But there came a point in my blogging career this past summer, over 6 years since I began, when the usual suspects on the music professional calendar felt like they just weren’t cutting it anymore. I needed to broaden my horizons, to reboot, to find something fresh to add another notch to my belt.

A friend of ours at Generator NI suggested I look into a conference and festival taking place in October, not my usual time of the year to visit the UK. Further, I was told it took place in East Anglia, a place I’ve not had the opportunity to visit in my 9 years of travelling to the country. Sounded like a good shout, eh? Starting today and through the rest of this week, I hope to give you a better idea of and a flavour for Norwich Sound and Vision, the East of England town in which it takes place in and why everyone – from music professionals to the obsessive fan – would do well to look into this boutique happening. Though it’s smaller than The Great Escape, it’s one of the better-run events on the calendar, staffed by passionate local leadership and staff truly devoted to the cause.

I had been aware of the strength of Norwich’s musical community, having noticed that at every Liverpool Sound City we’ve attended (prior to this year when the event was moved to the docklands, at least) always had a Norwich-sponsored showcase. Of course, you wouldn’t put on such a regional showcase unless 1) you had secured the financial support from local culture-related offices (read: there are people in your area who are excited about and want to help you spread the word about local talent) and 2) you felt the quality and potential of the artists in your area were incredible enough to want to shout about it to a wider audience outside your region.

I had the good fortune of having the time to attend both days of the conference and all three nights of the festival. Though the number of delegates is significantly less than that who attend the Great Escape, I thought the programming was excellent, covering a wide range of topics that would appeal to music professionals already in the industry, those looking to make moves into other parts of the business, and budding artists. (In the coming days, I’ll also be bringing you my thoughts on the showcasing artists I witnessed live while in Norwich.)

As the industry landscape changes, especially in terms of how an artist makes enough money not just to survive and break new markets, most usually without the backing of a major label, it’s obvious there is no ‘one size fits all’ standard model towards the yellow brick road of fame and fortune for a new artist. Nor is there one single benchmark of success for every artist to denote he/she/they has/have ‘made it’. Despite both acts first growing their fanbase in Britain and then made successful forays into America and beyond, success achieved by Bear’s Den and Public Service Broadcasting came to be via different paths. Stories like theirs give me hope for the future, and I hope they do the same for you, too. Syncing and streaming, also discussed in their own panel talks, are two topics that should be important to every new band, with the potential for revenue in either or both that could prove significant.

I have to admit that living in TGTF’s little corner of music industry land for quite a few years now, I haven’t needed to give much thought to how many little details must be sorted out, and in good time, to put on and to promote a major music festival and make it successful: sorting out event licences; keeping the local residents happy; making sure there is adequate police, fire brigade and medical emergency services in case god forbid something terrible happens. I know now why there are so many people I have come to know and become friends with that are involved with them, and I will certainly leave those kinds of headaches and heartaches to them. Case in point: Paul Kennedy, cofounder of The Zeitgeist Agency, who PR for Kendal Calling among many other festivals during the year, an event our Martin has covered for us several times including this year, had the unfortunate task of dealing with the fallout of a punter’s death this year at their festival.

The sad example serves as a reminder that although music festivals are big business and are about the organiser’s bottom line and yes, money talks, but it’s important to remember that we’re all part of a greater community, and we can and should be looking out for each other. Ultimately, I feel there are enough of us, with the good in our hearts, all in this together, and we will keep this industry alive and thriving. That’s something we all should feel good about. But that doesn’t mean we should ever rest on our laurels. From there, we need to keep going. And keep pushing.

I recently said, in tears to a manager friend, that as a music editor I often feel like a soldier in a war that will never end, where artists are fighting with each other for regional funding and festival slots and they can’t count on album sales because young people are stealing their music and not respecting their hard work. Quite often, I don’t feel like I’m ever doing enough to help new artists. If I can speak from a purely selfish standpoint, hearing the varied points of view from so many people from different walks of life in our industry made me feel a bit more comfortable at least with my own position, and where TGTF fits in with all of that.

Wherever you are, whoever you are in the music world – whether you’re a professional supporting an artist, you’re an artist making music or you’re a fan who buys concert tickets – what you do and how you act within this world does and has an effect.

Keep fighting the good fight, everyone!

Norwich canal
Just in case there was any doubt that I was actually there, here’s a photo of the canal near where I stayed in Norwich. Not going to get that kind of view at most festivals!

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There Goes The Fear is where we tell you about the latest music, gigs, and tours we love and think you should too.

We love music that has its heart on its sleeve, tells a story, swims around our head all day or makes us dance like no-one's watching.

TGTF is edited by Mary Chang, who is based in Washington, DC. She is joined by writers in England, America and Ireland. It began as a UK music blog by Phil Singer in 2005.

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