Preview: Output Belfast 2020 – The Conference

By on Monday, 20th January 2020 at 11:00 am
 

Last week, the full daytime schedule for the highly anticipated 2020 edition of Output Belfast was released. Taking place on the eve of Valentine’s Day, the daytime schedule for this annual event held in the capital of Northern Ireland is chock full of interesting speakers and useful sessions not just for those living in Northern Ireland, but for anyone involved in the music industry. I was kindly invited to this year’s proceedings, so I have come out of ‘retirement’ and am pleased to provide you the following outline on what I plan to sit in on while in attendance there.

The programming is bookended with two fantastic keynotes. The day will begin at 10 AM with The Music Industry in 2020 – Tracks, Trends, Opportunities, a three-person panel starring Paul Pacifico, Chief Executive of the Association of Independent Music (AIM); Beverley Whitrick, Strategic Director, Music Venues Trust; and Tom Kiehl, Acting Chief Executive of UK Music. Hang around for the whole day, because from 4 to 5 PM, things finish up with Blurred Lines – When Two Tunes Collide – Who Are You Going to Call?, the closing keynote led by musicologist Peter Oxendale and focussing on the big issue of music copyright infringement, plagiarism and litigation, which has become the one of the biggest elephants in the room in our industry since the dawn of the Internet.

The above paragraph should have convinced you that it’s worth it to stay at the MAC all day for Output. But what will you be doing in the intervening hours? In the 11.30 AM slot, you can learn about the key developments of music usage in the last 2 decades from former Director of Music at advertising firm Grey Josh Rabinowitz. This session, entitled A Biased History of Music in Advertising, will be hosted by Output Belfast’s own Mark Gordon. In the Irish Music Rights Association (IMRO) presentation How to Write a Hit moderated by Mary-Kate “May Kay” Geraghty (ex-Fight Like Apes), we’ll hear from Philip Magee, producer for two bands we love here at TGTF, Kodaline and The Script, and Ross Gautreau, A&R Director of Karma Artists. For some local flavour, attend Branded – Creating And So I Watch You From Afar’s Branding, which will see Rory Friers from the enduring Belfast instrumentalists and graphic designer Tim Farrell chat with Thomas Camblin of Rally. We will no doubt learn about that famous triangle that has become an important part of the band’s identity.

In the 12.40 PM ‘brown bag’ slot, two of the sessions focus squarely on the big bad “B” word of the music industry. Yes, folks, I mean business, and we’ve all heard the horror stories. In Music Industry Contract Essentials – Copyright and Monetising Your IP, lawyers Jonathan Tait (BTO Solicitors) and Pete Bott (Sound Advice Solicitors) will discuss contracts, copyright and music law with Score Draw Music’s Mary Johnston. While the the EU economic situation continues to be a tricky one with the uncertainty of the UK’s Brexit, there is some good news. The Creative Europe-presented Music Moves Europe – Accessing Funding will touch on the funding available to Northern Irish organisations and venues through the EU’s programme to support the cultural, creative and audiovisual sectors. This session will feature Rosie Le Garsmeur of Creative Europe Desk UK, Jess Partridge of In Stereo Group and Keychange and Paul Pacifico (AIM). NB: In the following time slot, there will be the similar but artist-directed Funding Opportunities in Northern Ireland in 2020, presented by PRS Foundation.

There’s more interesting sessions to be had post-lunch at Output Belfast. I had considered several times to start my own record label at TGTF, and the tips to come from The Joy of Running an Independent Label – How to Set Up and Grow Your Own would have come in handy. Rubyworks’ Ceri Dixon, Scruff of the Neck’s Mark Lippmann, and Pizza Pizza Records’ Joey Edwards will be sharing their own experiences in the trenches. And in a session I had never thought I’d see a music conference, there is a religion-themed talk in the form of Praise You – How Worship Music is Hitting the Mainstream. I was not aware that religious music had hit the mainstream, but Doug Ross of Stabal Music and singer/songwriters Lucy Grimble and Steph Macleod (singer/songwriter) will be convincing moderator Paul McNeilly of Fuel Events of this.

In the penultimate slot at 2.45 PM will be the How Did You Manage That? live podcast with Trevor Dietz, manager of Fontaines DC, introduced by Jane Stynes of Music Managers Forum and with moderators Ally McCrae of the BBC and Sophie Paluch of Pouch Music. As one of the most exciting exports from the island of Ireland in the last 12 months, I’m expecting this session to be filled to the gills. If you can’t get in, equally interesting and more likely helpful to an artist’s bottom line is the session entitled Anatomy of an Advertising Placement, where John McCallion (Music Supervisor at Warners Dublin), Dina Coughlan (Planet of Sound), Phil Jones (Park The Van Records and Manager of The Magic Numbers and Yeasayer), Francesca O’Connor (Champion Sound and Quiet Arch), and Mark Gordon (Score Draw Music and Output Belfast) will be put to the test live, given a brief for which they must place a track to the brief by the end of the session. In my early years as a music editor and journo, I tried my hand at some briefs like this. This sounds much easier than it really is. The session will be moderation by Josh Rabinowitz.

Sign up for this year’s edition of Output Belfast, the 13th of February, at the official website. There, you will also find the entire conference schedule. This daytime event will take place at the MAC, 10 Exchange Street, West, and the Oh Yeah Music Centre, 15-21 Gordon Street, Belfast. Information on the free music showcases are set to follow.

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