As a long-standing benefactor of unsigned artists, BBC Music introducing has catapulted the careers of many a household name. To commemorate its 10th anniversary this Friday (6 October) through to Sunday it hosts ‘Amplify’ at London’s Excel centre. BBC have partnered with Soundcloud and AWAL (Artists Without A Label) to curate the biggest networking music event of its kind. It seeks to empower music’s next generation, whether they be artists or aspiring industry heads; the rich and diverse programme aims to equip them with the knowledge required to succeed.
Amplify have considered every conceivable aspect or concern individuals might face within the music realm, and produced a masterclass, workshop or interview that will open up a dialogue about it. Their 100+ masterclasses offer an insight into the role of media / PR, a guide to self-releasing music, songwriting, streaming, working for labels and music management-the list goes on. Likewise, there’ll be sessions exploring more topical issues such as the experiences of women in music and the DIY nature of Grime.
Their roster boasts over 250 speakers comprised of artists and key players within the business. Major names from the artist pool include Annie Mac, Ray Blk, Twin B, Logan Sama, Bugzy Malone and The Libertine-some of whom will be sharing their personal journeys. Whilst Alex Boateng (Island Records), Amber Davis (Warner Chappel), Alex Griffith (GRM Daily), Tom Carter (Universal Music Publishing) and many more will pick apart the various frameworks making up the industry, revealing how it functions as a whole.
Meanwhile, Gigwise editor Cai Trefor will be present on a panel on Sunday called: I Can't Get You Out Of My Headline. He will be speaking with PR's and other journalists helping to give some advice to budding artists, managers, and PR's looking to understand what motivates what we publish and how to angle pitches that will be heard, thus helping bands get to that next level quicker.
To give a snapshot of the weekend’s endeavours we interviewed some of Amplify’s speaker’s.
Alex Griffith (GRM Daily)
How do you feel platforms like GRM, Link Up and SB.TV have changed the game for grime?
AG: GRM Daily and its fellow platforms entirely changed the game for grime and rap music. The respective founders helped create an entire business model, let alone a platform, for artists to be seen and heard. After the DVD days there wasn’t really any way to see your favourite MC’s in action, save from specialist channels like Channel U. They helped create an entire industry, further the careers of artists and provided jobs for young people.
What key topics will you be touching upon in your Grime is the new DIY talk?
AG: When Posty started GRM, him and his business partner literally picked up a camera and started shooting with no prior experience. The whole company was based on DIY, it epitomises it, and that ethos remains the same today. I can speak on what GRM do, our role in the industry and the careers of artists we see - from the very start - have success from doing it themselves.
Tom Cater (Universal Music Publishing)
In this day and age with platforms like Soundcloud and Youtube publicising and harnessing an independent artist’s career, is the support of a major music company really necessary?
TC: It’s definitely a case by case basis but yes, major music companies are certainly necessary. In the last few years new distribution and label services companies have become available to anyone and it’s easier than ever for musicians to get their music on these platforms. I went through a phase of thinking major labels were becoming less and less relevant as a result of these new companies, but really to break an artist internationally on a big scale, major music companies and large Indies are the only places that have the infrastructure to do so. Yes there are some cases like Chance the Rapper & Skepta who are almost completely DIY, but they are the minority of globally successful artists.
What is one vital piece of advice you’d give to individuals hoping to embark on a career within the music industry?
TC: Everyone is different and there’s so many areas of the industry you can have a career in now. But I guess something that could apply to everyone is to be aware of trends, but don’t always follow them as they can change over night, think about what the next trend might be. And generally, just work with great music and ignore the idiots (there are a lot them).
DJ Argue (Radar Radio grime host)
What role do you see DIY radio stations like Radar Radio as having in promoting emerging artists?
DA: We have a major role I feel! Radar gave a lot of young DJ’s and artists a opportunity to be part of something. We provide facilities for people to use and learn their craft. Radar stands for giving the younger generation a chance and that’s something will be continue to do.
How do you feel fashion has intercepted grime?
DA: Major brands showing interest in Grime can only be healthy for the scene, key brands are recognizing our talents which in turn helps to nurture our music as a whole.
What will Steve Lamacq’s Demo Bag consist of?
SL: It’s a session where myself and my guests will be listening to demos we’ve collected from bands who are attending Amplify, and hopefully giving them some helpful advice and constructive criticism.
We’ll be approaching the music from different angles: looking at where the artists are now and how they could develop in the future – maybe a few pointers on practical things like management and sorting out gigs, even how to get press and radio play. We’re going to try and be positive, but we also promise to be honest and realistic
Is there anything in particular you’ll be looking out for?
SL: The same stuff we all look for I think: something original; something which stands out; something that suggests a band or artist who has got the potential to take what they’re doing and evolve it over the next few years.
I also hope we’re going to find a good lyricist. I’m a sucker for a clever or funny lyric, or something insightful or observationally astute. Amplify runs Friday 6th- Sunday 8th October at the Excel centre London.
-- Words: Bex Shorunke