The Soapbox Sessions welcomed an eclectic selection of speakers including radio DJ Steve Lamacq and a buddhist monk to present on music-related topics.
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A trio of the individuals who will be chairing sessions during the 3 March discussion reveal their expectations for their respective panels
By IQ on 01 Mar 2023
ILMC’s Futures Forum, the one-day discussion and networking event for the next generation of live music industry leaders, takes place this Friday 3 March at the Royal Lancaster Hotel in London. With the days counting down to the event, we spoke to a trio of the individuals who will be chairing sessions in the main room during the conference to quiz them on their expectations for their respective debates…
THE YOUNG ENTREPRENEUR (11:30–12:30)
CHAIR: CAROLINE REASON, MATA AGENCY (UK)
Funding is a central dilemma for any entrepreneur. From your experiences, what insight can you give to those in the room looking to launch a new venture?
If you are building a product or something physical, it’s hard not to rely on investment, but if you are building an agency/working on idea, then hold out as long as you can.
As per music recordings, the more you can keep hold of your copyright, the better advantage you have later on, but at some point, strategically it might be the only way to grow and make the impact you want. The best thing I did was not to take any funding, and I talked to investors before I set up, but once I saved and knew I had enough money to bankroll myself for the first six months, I took the risk to do it alone. Even a small amount of investment in those early stages can have a significant effect later on, so hold out as long as you can.
If you’re looking for investors, literally just ask people, read books about setting up a company and investment, do the research and ask the ones that strategically make the most sense or just the ones with the most money and will have smallest amount of interference. I also recommend reading The E Myth by Michael Gerber.
“I feel very strongly that one area that needs to disrupt the industry is an improved amount of transparency across all areas”
Are there any particular parts of the live music business that you believe are in need of disruption?
Whilst I had 20 years in the heart of the live music business, I’ve been out of the day-to-day side for the last five or so, so I feel one step removed now. However, I feel very strongly that one area that needs to disrupt the industry is an improved amount of transparency across all areas. I fiercely believe in this and feel that the live industry and the music industry as a whole suffer because of the lack of it within the business, as well as personal relationships.
Being transparent has served me and the company well and sets MATA apart from many others. Being a small company, people need to trust you, and you them, so transparency is a guiding principal to MATA.
On a more practical level, I am very interested to see what the effect of the success and advancement of the technology that a show like ABBA Voyage will have. I sense it will be much more disruptive than people are considering at present, especially the impact on ticket sales. I highly recommend anybody interested in the live music industry to go and see the ABBA show and stand in the middle of the floor. Whether you like ABBA or not, it’s a formidable live music experience with a high ticket price.
Being an entrepreneur can be a lonely business. What tips can you and your guest speakers provide when it comes to support networks or mentorship?
Don’t expect people to care, so you will really have to seek out or pay for the ones that do. Don’t expect to have a mentor but keep looking for one. Also, working in the industry long-term and setting up your own company are two very different things, just because someone is a highly regarded employee of a big company may not necessarily make them good at running a small business, so seek [out] the ones that have already and ask them questions – most people in small business are happy to share.
Also, keep a thick skin, read, find balance, look for perspective, don’t be rash. You can have a great network and mentors, but ultimately, you have to rely on yourself and your decisions more than anything.
“Never stop asking questions, and don’t be afraid to ask questions because nobody knows everything”
MEET THE NEW BOSSES: CLASS OF 2023 (10:00–11:00)
CHAIR: SALLY DUNSTONE, PRIMARY (UK)
As a former New Boss yourself, what insight can you pass on to the Class of 2023 about your experiences in the business?
Never stop asking questions, and don’t be afraid to ask questions because nobody knows everything. Also, don’t be afraid to give a different viewpoint or collaborate.
Futures Forum offers young professionals a unique opportunity to network with their peers, but also some of the top executives in the live music business. What tips would you give to people to make sure they make the most of the day?
Don’t be afraid to talk to people or put your hand up. When I was on a panel at ILMC, a new agent put their hand up and asked a question and everyone remembered that. He wasn’t afraid to get involved. Also, have an awareness of who people are before you go and who you want to speak to.
The panellists in this session will become some of the industry’s decision makers in the near future – what topics do you hope to discuss with them (and the room) during your session?
Sustainability, diversity, and equality.
OK BOOMER: CLOSING THE GENERATION GAP, PART II (15:30–16:30)
CHAIR: DEBBIE MCWILLIAMS, SCOTTISH EVENT CAMPUS (UK)
What tips can you and your guests provide about identifying the right companies to work for – where young professionals will be listened to and offered an environment that they can thrive in?
A good starting point would be to research how a company presents itself to the future workforce. Key areas of focus would be its mission statement and company values and the overall ambition of both. How does it stand out within its peer group, and is this reflected in any industry achievements or awards, confirming a ‘best in show’ status?
Typically, young people measure their interest in a new role by reading the first three lines of an ad. How engaging are the job ads presented, and do they inspire a young professional to believe they will have a voice and thrive within the company?
“Young people have high expectations and a drive to succeed and escalate up the career ladder quickly”
Everyone is crazily busy in today’s business environment. How do you and your senior colleagues make sure you devote sufficient time to helping younger team members in their career development?
A top strategic priority in our business is investment in people. We have a comprehensive People Strategy, crafted and supported by our senior leadership team.
Young people have high expectations and a drive to succeed and escalate up the career ladder quickly. Through training and mentoring, we focus on harnessing that energy and channelling it in the right way. We engage team members in a development plan to provide focus and a clear path to hit career milestones.
What topics do you envisage the different generations on your panel (and in the room) will most want to discuss?
I think it’s important that we focus on bridging the generation gap. We are an industry that deals with all five generations at the same time, with one thing in common – we are all going through the same things at the same time. Understanding how each generational type likes to consume and share information is pivotal in bridging the gap.
Sustainability continues to be a headline topic across all generations. With a variety of environmental initiatives having already been implemented, this clearly demonstrates our industry’s dedication to move the live business towards a greener future.
Staging live events requires a huge network of experts and skill, that’s why a concerted focus on diversity and inclusivity within our business really matters. Ongoing discussion should drive the equality agenda to ensure our industry is open to everyone.
Finally, technology will always generate lively discussion. As new tech is implemented, we continue to see enhancements to productions, greater efficiency in accessing tickets, purchasing, and seamless secure entry to venues, all of which amplify the fan experience.
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