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Sounds Phenomenal - A History

In The Beginning 1998 1999 2000 2001 2002 Credits


Street Level Muzik

The Music Industry Conference

Conference programme

Participant's feedback

Street Level Muzik

1998 saw the group’s activities pick up pace, building on the momentum gathered since its inception. A comprehensive programme of activities was devised that consolidated the work already achieved and built upon it.

Having applied to the Arts 4 Everyone scheme, as supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council of England, Sounds Phenomenal was granted £3100. This funding was channelled into the Street Level Muzik series of events, a collection of workshops activities that ran between February and July 1998 and culminated in the first Music Industry Conference, at the Brighton Media Centre.

A broad workshop programme was constructed that consisted of: 

·       Musiczone and Frenetix Soundscapes Drop-in

·       Praxis MIDI music course

·       DJ and mixing workshops  

·       Sound Technology Workshop for Women

·       Drumming workshops

·       Graffiti Art sessions


The Music Industry Conference

This innovative project was aimed at demystifying the industry for those looking to enter it and intended to bring representatives from the music business face-to-face with musicians themselves.

…the biggest and most popular event of the ‘Street Level Muzik’ programme. The idea for this event came out of the ‘Sounds Phenomenal’ meetings and the group brainstormed who and what they would like to see happening on that day. A youth worker and one of the group took responsibility to follow up the idea and spent a huge amount of effort and hard work networking, communicating with potential seminar leaders and working on the general logistical demands of putting on a conference like this. There was a tremendous response to the idea of the conference and the speakers were enthusiastic about taking part. The Brighton & Hove Fringe Festival were also extremely supportive, designing and printing all the advertising for the event, devoting a whole page in their programme to the conference and providing their box office for selling tickets. ‘Sounds Phenomenal’ also had a slot on SURF 107 radio to ‘plug’ the event. On the actual day of the conference, SURF 107 advertised the event at hourly intervals, with the conference also receiving coverage in The Guardian’s ‘The Guide’! The stewards were all from ‘Sounds Phenomenal’ and over 300 people attended the day at the Brighton Media Centre.  

An exciting variety of speakers from the music industry took part in seminars that offered to demystify and help navigate the maze which is the music industry, from setting up a label, dealing with A&R, to exploring arts funding and learning about accredited training opportunities.

The response to the conference was tremendous. People who came in just to look spent the whole day going from seminar to seminar. One of the industry people who initially said he could only come for an hour stayed the whole day, providing advice and support at an ‘open table’. Musicians and artists were networking and making new contacts and everyone was positive about the seminars themselves. A number of participants offered their help with any follow up events, and already Sounds Phenomenal are being contacted to plan and organise another music industry conference in ’99.

There was clearly a gap in the music and arts field that was met by the Music Industry Conference. The overwhelming response from music industry experts, musicians, bands, promoters, students and those wanting to develop a career in music indicates a strong desire for more of the same. Currently, the Sounds Phenomenal group are brainstorming what speakers/experts they could invite and there is also plans to make it a two-day event, with seminars on one day and ‘master classes’ on another, with a more structured space for networking.  

from ‘Street Level Muzik 1998’, a report by Jonathan Foxton, Gary Cox, Denis Byrne.  

 Below is the programme for the day:  

Theatre – Brighton Media Centre

Gallery – Brighton Media Centre  

10.30-12.00 Artswork South: Free money for bands – a crash course on how funding systems work & doing a budget.   11.00-12.00 Justice?: What the New Deal means to unemployed musicians.
12.15-1.15   The Dance Parade: DIY event kit – the inspiration for and roots of the Dance Parade.   12.15-2.30   City Of London University: Top lecturers from Making Music Work course, covering many aspects of industry (UK & global industry, music & law, and marketing.  
1.30-2.30 No Future & Mosquito: Setting up a successful dance label, info on registering, pressing & distribution.   2.45-3.45   Heavyweight Management: Simon Goffe (Roni Size’s manager) about the success of Heavyweight & how to get a publishing/m’ment deal.
2.45-3.45   Surf 107 & Earshot: How to get into radio broadcasting, with a focus on youth formats.   4.00-5.00 Skint Records: The people behind the successful label & what goes into running Skint.  
4.00-5.00   International Managers Forum: How to get into management & what managers look for in bands.   5.15-6.15   PRS & MCPS: Performing & Mechanical royalties, sample clearance & other subjects.  
5.15-6.15 A&R from Nude Records: How to get into A&R, & what A&R look for in up & coming musicians.    

Feedback from some of the participants who attended included the following responses:

Q1) How did you feel the day went, what was good about it and how might things be improved?

“1 enjoyed the day and found it very informative. I noticed varying degrees of preparation regarding the speakers and wonder if they were all ‘primed’ enough as to what was expected of them (just a thought) The staff were all very pleasant and should be pleased with themselves”

“Really good. Informative and also succinct speakers, who were well chosen What else can I say? Basically I’d like to see more of this. Thanks. A good day.”

“The conference was well organised, in a relaxed and comfortable environment (although some softer seats for that long session in the gallery would have been nice). Conference stewards were friendly and helpful, often giving valuable input into the discussions

“All of the sessions were interesting, informative and entertaining. Good work Sounds Phenomenal and thanks for the free tea and coffee. Improvements:  perhaps all day tickets at a slightly reduced rate, with attendees specifying beforehand which sessions they want to go to, so that numbers in venues can be organised. More free hand-outs — notes from speakers etc”

“Very good, but don’t run two things against each other as you miss important things”.

“Overall very good, useful information. Simon from Heavy Weight top of the bill.”

“Excellent; as a new person to the biz it was a great introduction. It would be really useful to have a Brighton network list of names and contact details of the attendees.”

“Really good, very useful. Nice to meet other people doing the same thing. City of London women was very good - good overview of the industry with a health degree of cynicism. Roni Size, manager interesting. Skint - not very helpful, more promoting their own stuff.”

“Excellent day. Helped clarify many points for me as someone just starting in the biz. Hope to see more in the future - is it possible to cover music biz lawyers? Well done and thanks a lot.”

“Thanks - I felt very relaxed and at home, even answering questions. I thought the event was for youngsters, I wasn’t sure as I only saw some publicity the day before - but it was great and well worth coming - to get feedback and contacts for next year.”

“Great participants, very attentive and open to questions and discussion. Sounds Phenomenal, very hospitable, Rod, who looked after the course, very helpful. I had a great day.”

“Brilliant day - loads of excellent information and great to see some famous Brighton faces speaking about what they do. Thanks!”

“Top one, much needed information, more of it on a regular basis!”

“I thought it was well organised, good hospitality always goes down a treat, cheers. My only thoughts are that this is a great idea and you should make them happen more often”

“Excellent - saw 4 seminars - IMF, PRS, MCPS Heavyweight and City of London. They were all very informative and helpful. More of the same would be excellent. Good to meet other people in music industry who were attending the seminars. Network city.”

“It was excellent - very informative speakers and very helpful. Longer sessions would help the question/answer sessions.”

Q2) Do you have any ideas for other similar type events which Sounds Phenomenal could do? What else would you like to see in a Music Industry Conference?

“A more regular event would be good!”

“It would be good to have some artists speaking, or giving a presentation talking about their experiences. Perhaps someone from a major label and someone from an independent label.”

“Publishing. Record companies - independent and major. Songwriting.”

“More representatives from the major companies of the music industry.”

“Monthly open workshops so different people in Brighton can meet up and advise each other. Well done - great!”

“Good to have an event where different musicians could bring their tracks to hear each others stuff- if you do this let me know!”

“Music marketing. Developing a Publicity strategy course in itself. Run making music weekend course in Brighton.”

“More of the same, bands talking about their experience of the industry.”

“Contacts for people involved in music, e.g. gig venues, promoters, labels etc. It would be good to see more encouragement/contacts for people starting out.”

“Maybe some more specialised question and answer sessions for people setting up their own projects so they can make a list of questions and really use the workshop.”

“Distributors, media bods, record companies, video bods, publishers, promoters, venues, photographers.”

“Something for pop video makers. Cheers!”


© Sounds Phenomenal, 2003