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Futures Forum: Soapbox Sessions

The Soapbox Sessions saw various experts present 15-minute, TED-style, quick fire presentations, across a diverse range of subjects including environmentalism, grassroots venues, touting and meditation.

Maggie Crowe OBE, director of events and charities at BPI, took to the stage first to reveal the inner-workings of the Brits and its evolution from a small, non-televised event to the UK’s answer to the Grammys. “We’re up for new ideas,” said Crowe, referencing the “lunacy that goes on in the Brits world.”

Next, A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neill offered ten tips for an eco-friendly life, stating that “the entire fundamentals of the touring industry are not sustainable.” O’Neill promoted reusable cutlery, public transport, vegan eating, water sharing and an environmentally conscious approach to narcotics, “always choose a local dealer,” she joked.

Ticketmaster’s Ben Tipple explained the principles of content marketing – being relevant and valuable. Tipple described content as the “fun stuff” between marketing and journalism that “tells a story”. The initial stages of Fyre Festival’s content marketing was “actually really remarkable,” said Tipple, noting that the infamous festival sold on content alone.

Radio 6 DJ Steve Lamacq stepped up with Music Venue Trust’s Mark Davyd to stress the importance of grassroots music venues. “Local communities are built around these venues and new bands start to form because of them,” said Lamacq, who estimated he had attended “somewhere in the region of 5,800 gigs” in his life.

“Local communities are built around grassroots venues and new bands start to form because of them”

The second round of soapbox sessions kicked off with former ticket tout Ken Lowson, who said that “ticket bots are toast” and spoke of how a hallucination featuring Obi-Wan Kenobi persuaded him to stop scalping and instead serve the fan.

“The death of the newsfeed is here,” said Harry Willis from I AM POP. Willis explained that promoters can push ticket sales, send links to upcoming shows and gain fan data through messenger, stating that the immediate nature of communication is “essential in the live space.”

“You can’t control everything, often things do go wrong,” admitted production manager Sara Maria Kordek, who gave top tips on ensuring smooth production. Maintaining trust, empowering your team and trusting instincts are key, said Kordek, who spoke of production as a puzzle: “combine all the small details and check every piece fits to make the show.”

Finally, Buddhist monk Gelong Thubten said that people are “more desperate than ever” for mindfulness and meditation techniques, as “the systems we created to make life simpler are making it more complicated.”

Thubten dispelled myths surrounding meditation, which is more about choosing thoughts than removing them. Through mindfulness, “you become the boss of your own reality,” said the monk.


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