sP’s sideways glance at In The City 2007 26/10/2007
Right then! Late one this week I know but I was at In The City itself then out of the office for a couple of days so that’s my excuse…
Indeed, it was that time of the year again when the music industry congregates within Manchester’s Midland hotel for a mixture of panels, gigs and copious amounts of booze (which was either free, or really, really, expensive bizarrely enough. I mean, £3.95 for a bottle of Magners? You should be ashamed of yourself ‘Studio’).
So I arrived there with my fellow Sentric colleague, jD, on the Saturday and hit the first panel of our weekend: ‘The Publishers Panel’. Not too much was said in this panel that your average Music Week reader (or Sentric Music blog reader might I add) wouldn’t already know. One thing that I did find interesting though was a certain gentlemen from the Getty group informing the panel of majors about his new business venture. You know Getty? Nearly every time you see a picture on the internet if you look in the corner there will be a little Getty sign there and a copyright above it. It’s quite simply huge and Getty images are everywhere because they work on such a simple model; the photographer uploads their photographs onto Getty’s website and if their images get used it’s a direct 50/50 royalty split between Getty and the photographer. Also, the photographer gets to keep all their copyright in the image. So Mr Getty here starts telling the panel and the audience that they’re going to do a similar thing with music; artist uploads the track and if it gets used it’s a 50/50 split and he/she also gets to keep his/her copyright at the same time. In my opinion that model mixed with the financial backing and branding of Getty could be as huge as their images and you could tell by the panels faces that they had a similar inkling.
Then it was time to go see my first artist of the day; Ian Britt @ Trof. If you live around the Manchester way then you should go to Trof as it’s bloody lovely and I’m sure Mr Britt would agree with me if he tried their food. Unfortunately though it doenst make the strongest music venue and when Ian started playing you could tell he’s not a fan of ‘Café’ gigs. Never the less he carried on and surely enough, after each song fewer people were talking and eating and more people began to listen. By the end of the set the whole café was hanging on his every word and you could tell he was a happier bunny then at the start. Strong set from a strong artist who looks like is going to be big in Holland bizarrely enough.
Back to the Midland for my 2nd panel of the weekend: ‘How Not To Get Screwed’ which was a pretty pointless panel. The outcome was basically: ‘there are people in this industry who’ll be out to do one over on you so be careful’ – nothing really groundbreaking there then. One humorous moment was when they were introducing the panel Anthony Addis said “Hi, I’m an accountant who specialises in the entertainment industry, specifically music… I also manage The Pogues and Muse”.
I would have opened with that personally.
Next band of the afternoon was The Runners (Top track – ‘My Future’) who had a decent sized crowd for half five in the afternoon due to the free Red Stripe that was flowing (you must understand I was there for the band and not the booze). Good jangly powerpop that was delivered by a gentlemen who looked very much like a German guy I went to uni with. Means nothing to you mind but I thought I’d still tell you. I very much enjoyed their set and they were most definitely in my top five of the weekend. Go check them out…
Then after a bit of dinner (Bar Burrito in Piccadilly Gardens is simply ace) it was off to see Sentric’s very own Carlis Star (Top track – Hereby No one) at the Dry Bar. I do like this band, not only because they have a manager who is the nicest man in Western Europe, but because also their song ‘Hereby Noone’ sounds a bit like early Weezer – which is nothing short of a good thing. Also, there is a rather attractive lady in the group which seemed to grab the attention of some of the ‘what am I doing drunk this early in the evening’ crowd.
Then it was off to watch a sport I barely understand as England fumbled their way to 2nd place in the world cup. I’m a football man through and through (Sheffield Wednesday if you must know) and I simply don’t enjoy Rugby. Don’t get me wrong, I haven’t got the nuts to play it and if I did I’d be that one who stands up and shouts “did you have to run your studs down my thigh? It really hurt!” but I watched it never the less just in case we won. And we didn’t. The masses at Brannigans didn’t mind too much though as they were all sure Hamilton will win the F1 tomorrow thus making the UK good at something…
After the rugger I accidentally caught the ‘buzz band’ of the weekend ‘Twisted Wheel’. I say accidently as I was originally off to see The Honeymoon Suite but I didn’t realise the Dry Bar had a sneaky 3rd stage so I missed them. Anyway, Twisted Wheel caused mayhem in the front room and hearsay spread afterwards that they were offered 7 record deals after the set. I personally didn’t like them as to me they sounded like a poor man’s ‘The Enemy’. They were a good live act with a watchable front man but the songs lacked originality and didn’t grab my attention enough. Each to their own though eh?
As that was the last gig on my schedule for that evening it was back to the Midland for the In The City launch party where the kind sponsors were giving away free beer left right and centre (this time I did go for the free booze!) then the usual networking took place until the wee hours of the morning…
Ever the panglossian I thought going to bed at 5am would leave me sufficient time to recover for the first panel of the day. So several litres of water and some apologetic text messages later I strolled into the 1st panel of the day which was regarding multi tasking in the music industry (i.e. having the same person manage you and be your lawyer at the same time etc). An interesting panel with an interesting line up who all had some interesting points (it was interesting basically). It would appear having one person do 2 or more roles for you can be both beneficial and detrimental for you at the same time, it, of course comes down to the multi tasker in question so be careful who you’re asking to be both your manager, record label, publisher and personal Jesus. Potential future blog topic?
Then off to the first gig of the day; Clipe Sexo Amador (Top track: Trolley Dash) at the Ruby Lounge. A gig we all want to forget due to the set being marred by a whole imbroglio of technical difficulties. The live show has some great potential within it so hopefully Clipe will bounce back bigger and stronger then ever.
Back to the Dry Bar for a bit of The Joy Vegas (Top Track: Dance Like You). This is the first time I’ve seen The Joy Vegas since their name change (ex – Wee See Foxes) and acquired a new Front man and it was a thoroughly enjoyable performance from the lads. The new Norwegian singer was at home on stage and genuinely did look and act the part. These lads have got some good people behind them so keep an eye out, they could be on the radio very soon…
Then it was gigs, gigs, gigs from then on it:
Blind Archery Club (Top track: Off The Deep End) – very tight band with radio friendly tracks and a big fanbase in their home country of Norway. One of those bands who could easily fall into both the Radio 1 and Radio 2 playlists without much effort and I wouldn’t be surprised if these are one of the first names you hear about from this years In The City. Little bit bland though.
The Naturals (Top track: Concrete Sea) – my favourite band of the entire conference. I thought these lads were bloody ace! They’re much heavier live then they are on their myspace page so I really do recommend you go catch these live the next time they play in your area. My A&R scout friend informed me that they are only 16 years old which I find rather marvellous if I’m honest. All we need now is for a record label to realise potential when they see it and offer them a development deal where they’re not actually looking to release a record for at least a year so the lads can practice and become a tighter, stronger, confident band – although they did have a lot of those qualities already.
Colum Regan (Top track: Letting Go) – a man, a guitar and a dreamy Welsh voice that when your mum hears it she’ll get fizzy knickers; what more could you want? Although an enjoyable set it just keeps getting harder and harder to walk away from an acoustic gig thinking that you’ve just seen ‘the next big thing’ due to how saturated the market currently is.
Tellison – Fall out boy-esq power punk that wasn’t bad, but not good enough for me to remember anything else about them.
Grammatics (Top track: Shadow Committee) – my second favourite band of the weekend required me to venture a little further up to the Night and Day Café to see the Leeds Quartet. Now I’ve got a few friends who do A&R on many different levels, from uni projects to regional scouts to national scouts and opinion is well and truly divided when it comes to the Grammatics. When I was first told to check out their myspace page I was quite turned off by it if I’m honest but then a few months down the line I was told to re-check it again and listen to their new song ‘Shadow Committee’ which I found rather ace. Live they were very impressive, the incredibly androgynous lead singer is a very talented guitarist and has a sublime vocal range that could be compared to that of Matt Bellamy’s (although I’m pretty sure he won’t usurp him any time soon). Add to that some brilliant basslines and some nice Medieval Cellola and you had quite a brilliant set. The one criticism I would have is the fact that all their songs are quite epic; loud then quiet, cacophonic then plain, slow then rocking etc and I reckon they need that one 3 minute non-stop power track that is more accessible.
I then popped back to the Midland hotel for a bit more free booze (I had to keep my blood levels up) at the Record of the Day party who had a couple of artists on I completely ignored if I’m honest. One of which was called ‘Trash Fashion’ who looked a cartoon character had thrown up on them. Sentric colleague jD thought they were brilliant however: “They were one of the few groups of the whole weekend that weren’t turgid staring-at-fretboards post-Libertines dullards. They made me jump around like a loon, combining all the best bits of Motley Crue and acid house. And they dressed in neon colours and leopard skin, with big hair, which is in itself enough to make me love any band, nay, human being.” Cheers Jon
Off to bed at 5am again, surely if I managed to get up last time I could this time?
Alas no, and I strolled into the 4th panel of the day regarding the topic of A&R. Again, not much was said here that I thought was groundbreaking. The constant reminders of the fact that a) record labels are continually looking more and more for the final product and are not interested in developing artists anymore and b) myspace has made A&R a whole lot easier.
The next panel however was quite interesting; “Selling in or Buying out” was its title and it was regarding artists collaborating with brands in many ways. What I learnt from this panel was if any collaborations do take place, you should completely cut out the record label and the only parties communicating with one another should be the artist/artist manager and the brand. There was a gentlemen from the MMF who was on this panel and although rather outspoken to the point of ‘Is this guy a prat or a genius?’ had some very good points. Possible future blog topic?
A quick dabble in the new bands panel where a whole list of bands were name dropped by ‘industry bods’ including the apparent all round favourite; Ting Tings (Top track: That’s Not My Name).
Then it was on to the gigs again…
Little Engine (Top track: Babyboy) – a group of lads I first saw at Dpercussion a few months ago who impressed as much this time as they did the first time around. A charismatic lead singer who is barely 18 himself yet again shows the needs for major labels to offer development deals to young artists with a lot of promise.
Tim and Sam’s Tim and the Sam Band – as I write this, jD informs that on record they are actually pretty good, but live, apologies lads, you bored me.
Elle S’appelle (Top track; Little Flame) – who needs a guitar? Keane don’t! Scouting for Girls don’t! Why should we?! But ask yourself this Elle S’appelle, what is the common denominator between Keane and Scouting for Girls? That’s right, they’re rubbish. You on the other hand are pretty good so congratulations! You’re officially the exception to the rule!!! (you still need a guitar though)
Riff Raff (Top track: No Other Way) – a band who are showing potential but need some heavy practice to be ready to be front of the public eye. Who else can say that the first gig they’ve ever played was Glastonbury?! Some top ideas floating around in this band so lets hope they get it right and not rush into things.
And so it was! The end of in the city! It was a quiet finish that night, in bed for 4…
All in all I’d say it was a quiet In The City compared to the 3 previous years. Less panels then before that were also too generic, I personally would like to see panels dedicated to certain music events in the industry e.g. a panel dedicated to Madonna’s deal with Live Nation and a panel dedicated to the Radiohead malarky. Things like that were mentioned but only skipped over really.
Good year for bands though, my favourite 2 were…
What I’m listening to this week: The Grammatics and The Naturals
What I’m reading this week: The Fiver
No free track this week, I treat you well enough as it is.