Off the Record is such a different event, unlike anything else happening in Manchester. Merging business with music, a conference set up to inform people of what is happening behind the scenes of the UK’s gigs and festivals, celebrating the music industry, but also supporting emerging artists and the grassroots music venues in the culturally rich city.
The whole day was packed full of informative conferences. The talks covered issues that are happening in today’s industry and how we can combat them, but also spoke about the good things, the positives of what’s happening in the Northwest’s thriving scene.
I spoke to Becky Ayres, the managing director of Sound City, an annual festival in Liverpool, and Ben Robinson, the festival director at From the Fields, who founded Kendal Calling and Blue Dot. Both of them had some interesting insights on the music industry and how they are adapting to the blossoming scene in the northwest.
Becky spoke about Sound City’s rural adaptations in Widnes and Northwich:
“The Northwest, it’s amazing what’s going on here, Liverpool and Manchester are both fantastic cities. One of the challenges that’s come up, that’s important, is to just address where people are doing things, and they want to do things outside cities and we need to address how we work more with rural areas.”
Effectively, this is what Ben did 13 years ago, upon founding Kendal Calling his goal was to bring music into an area where there wasn’t much of it:
“There wasn’t a lot of gigs in Cumbria, so I started to put a few gigs on myself and I met Andy Smith who was also putting shows on around Cumbria and we started to collaborate, wanting to do something bigger and there wasn’t really any large venues around the Kendal area, so we decided to put a marquee in a field.”
Both Becky and Ben spoke about the “exciting” music scene in the northwest, bringing people together, Becky said: “There’s more artists than ever, more people doing things than ever, and we just want to keep being relevant,”while talking about the flourishing music scene, Ben agreed but spoke of changes which need to be made, “We need to make sure we support small venues small promoters because they’re really the people that are going to become the future of the music industry.”
I agree with this, the music industry is changing, and we need to adapt in order for it continue growing and progressing, otherwise what are we going to listen to, dance to and sing along to. Manchester is a brilliant hub for musicians, full of everything you can imagine. Off the Record opens up these conversations and brings this to light. Becky closed by saying: “Off the Record is valuable because Manchester is the live capital of music in the UK and it’s a really fantastic place with a great music history but for a long time since in the city there’s Been no industry event in Manchester and I think Off the Record fills a gap there.”
We have more coming about this years Off the Record through this week so watch this space…