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Wide Days announces programme for virtual 2020 event

Edinburgh’s Wide Days convention has announced details for its upcoming virtual conference and showcase festival, which is taking place from 23 to 25 July.

Wide Days 2020, the event’s eleventh anniversary edition, was originally scheduled to take place from 23 to 25 April, later put on hold – along with the vast majority of industry conferences and live music events around the world – due to the coronavirus crisis.

The fully virtual event sees a full three-day programme of panel discussions, keynote interviews, live performances, sector meetings, social activities and networking events.

Supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, the first two days of the event will feature conference sessions and showcases, with the weekend beginning with a virtual music tour, followed by the Wide Whisky Club and a Festival Takeover, featuring guest programming from Focus Wales and the Edinburgh Jazz and Blues Festival.

Panel sessions will cover challenges arising from the pandemic, with topics including livestreaming, new forms of music export and the recovery of the industry. Speakers include Fly Events’ Tom Ketley, Active Events’ Lisa Whytock, the Association of Independent Music’s Gee Davy, Sound Diplomacy’s Shain Shapiro and veteran artist manager Keith Harris.

The Wide Days showcase will feature a selection of emerging Scottish talent: hip hop artists Billy Got Waves x Joell, DIY multi-instrumentalist Kapil Seshasayee, singer-songwriter Magpie Blue, post-punk duo Memes, electro-popsters One Nine and indie quartet Swim School.

“Wide Days 2020 will be an extremely important event for helping to take the sector forward, developing new talent and new ways of working”

The convention is delivered in partnership with a new digital event platform launched by Catalan company Meetmaps, allowing delegates to pre-book one-to-one meetings, hang out in themed social rooms, take part in international match-making sessions and participate in round tables hosted by event partners.

“Over the past three months we have hosted a series of online seminars and social evenings, as well as taking part in many other online events, and right across the music industry spectrum there is a strong desire to connect and learn,” says Wide Days founder, Olaf Furniss.

“At Wide Days we also want our guests to be entertained and have fun, so we will aim to translate everything we do in the physical space to the virtual environment – including the tour and whisky tasting.”

“Wide Days have done very important work over the past ten years in providing a forum for the music sector to discuss extremely difficult challenges as well as emerging opportunities,” says Scottish culture secretary Fiona Hyslop, who announced a £10 million support package for performing arts venues on Friday (3 July).

“It’s great to see that Wide Days will host a virtual conference for 2020 in response to the coronavirus crisis. This will be an extremely important event for helping to take the sector forward, developing new talent and new ways of working.”

The full programme is available here, with additional panels and speakers set to be announced in the run up to the event.

Delegate passes can be purchased here, for £30. Delegates also have the option to pay-forward a ticket as part of a bursary system designed to allow those hardest hit in the Scottish industry to apply for free accreditation. Organisers will match each donated ticket.


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Wide Days to host virtual event

Scottish live music industry conference Wide Days is putting on an afternoon of virtual discussions and socials tomorrow (24 April), when the event was originally due to take place.

Wide Days is among a number of industry conferences to be affected by the coronavirus outbreak, with organisers moving the three-day event from April to 23 to 25 July.

To mark the original dates of the Edinburgh conference, a free virtual event will take place from 1.30 p.m. (GMT) tomorrow.

Kicking off with a TikTok webinar, the programme also features ITB agent Steve Zapp in conversation with Wide Days founder Olaf Furniss, as well as a social workshop, allowing live event professional to swap tips on useful platforms, webinars, podcasts and initiatives and an end-of-day music quiz.

The event will also include a virtual chatroom on Zoom, to facilitate networking and catch ups throughout the day.

Those interested in attending the event can sign up here.


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Wide Days announces mini-summit on EU relations

Scotland’s music convention, Wide Days, is hosting a mini-summit of industry figures from across the European Union to strengthen and maintain ties with Europe and develop international opportunities.

The summit forms part of the tenth-anniversary edition of the convention, which takes place in Edinburgh from 11 to 13 April, and will be attended by representatives from showcase events, festivals and export offices from nine different countries.

Topics on the agenda include the potential for European events to guest-curate stages at future conventions as part of Wide Days’ new Festival Takeover initiative, which this year sees Scottish summer festivals Tenement Trail, Electric Fields and Kelburn Garden Party each programme a stage.

The Festival Takeover also sees the launch of artist exchanges with Focus Wales and Sound of Belfast, featuring performances by Welsh band Kidsmoke and Derry-based “grumpy electro-pop” artist Roe, who recently supported Snow Patrol on their UK arena tour. Wide Days organisers hope to establish closer ties with European events through the initiative in the coming years.

“Since its launch in 2010, Wide Days has built strong ties across Europe and we want to make sure these are maintained and developed further,” says Wide Days founder, Olaf Furniss. “At the summit we will be discussing the possibility of us hosting international festivals in the future.”

“Wide Days has built strong ties across Europe and we want to make sure these are maintained and developed further”

Delegates from Austria, the Czech Republic, Estonia, France, Germany, Hungary, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands and Norway will attend the summit. Representatives from the Dutch, German, Irish and Austrian music export offices and the French festival association Prodiss will be present, as well as a range of promoters.

Alan Morrison, head of programming at Creative Scotland, welcomes the addition of the summit. “International showcasing is a two-way street. Scottish bands need to be out there breaking new markets and building up audiences abroad, but it’s equally important that the key players from foreign territories come here and witness our talent first-hand,” says Morrison.

“The delegate presence in 2019 proves that Wide Days is a first point of destination for international agents and bookers who want to check out our dynamic and diverse music scene,” adds Morrison.

“Creative Scotland is proud to support an event that’s ultimately all about building bridges across borders and bringing musicians, fans and the industry together on an international scale.”

The panel line-up for Wide Days 2019 includes Stevie Wonder’s manager Keith Harris, Radio 1 DJs Phil Taggart and Abbie McCarthy, Radio Scotland’s Vic Galloway and representatives from Bandcamp, Soundcloud, EmuBands PPL and charity partner Help Musicians Scotland.


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Wide Days announces 10th-anniversary conference details

Wide Days has announced more details of its tenth-anniversary convention, including the latest conference additions, a meeting of European showcase festivals, a music-themed walking tour, partnerships and details of its expanded live programme.

This year sees the Edinburgh event begin on the evening of Thursday 11 April with a coach tour guided by Wide Days founder Olaf Furniss, followed by a welcome gig hosted by Glasgow-based agency Antidote Booking and headlined by local act Man of Moon.

On Friday 12 April, the conference returns to the world’s oldest student union, Teviot Row House, with recently added Friday sessions including a critical look at what blockchain technology can deliver for the music industry, a lyric clinic hosted by Dr Dave Hook (in association with PRS for Music) and a session, Ask the Young Team, which offers industry delegates an opportunity to submit questions to a room full of music consumers.

“Wide Days’ conference has always placed an emphasis on introducing fresh ideas and taking a different approach to music-related subjects, as well as not being afraid to take a critical look at claims made about new technologies or platforms,” says Furniss. “From the first conference in 2010 we always felt that older delegates had something to learn from the next generation. Ask the Young Team is an opportunity for established industry delegates to get some invaluable insights.”

Delegates will also have the opportunity to meet representatives from festivals and showcase events across Europe, who will take part in a special summit exploring how to build closer ties with the Scottish music industry and the potential to develop artist exchanges.

“Wide Days’ conference has always placed an emphasis on introducing fresh ideas”

The Wide Days showcase, which runs on Friday, will feature seven of Scotland’s best emerging acts: Megan Airlie, Shears, VanIves, Eyes of Others, Chuchoter, Parliamo and Franky’s Evil Party. Previous participants include Kathryn Joseph, Be Charlotte, Fatherson, C Duncan and Honeyblood.

On Saturday morning, early risers will have the opportunity to join a music-based walking tour of Edinburgh’s Old Town (guided by Glasgow Music City Tours), followed by lunch, along with “surprise activities” and malt whisky tasting, at a mystery location. Vinyl junkies will then have the opportunity to visit some of Edinburgh’s record shops for Record Store Day, before dinner and the beginning of the Festival Takeover.

The new Festival Takeover initiative sees Electric Fields, Tenement Trail and Kelburn Garden Party each programming a stage, providing delegates and public alike with a flavour of three of Scotland’s leading music festivals. Additionally, in a first step to establishing closer ties with events across Europe, this year will see the first artist exchange with Focus Wales and Sound of Belfast.

Taking place in Edinburgh from 11 to 13 April, the event, known as ‘Scotland’s music convention’, will again be supported by PRS Foundation, PPL, Help Musicians Scotland, EmuBands, UHI, PRS For Music and the SMIA, with new partners including the Association of Independent Music (AIM), Ticketmaster UK, Antidote Booking and Edinburgh Napier University.

Jonathan West, marketing director for Ticketmaster Artist Services, says: “Year after year Scotland continues to produce incredible new artists, and the Wide Days showcase line-up has become essential listening for anyone wanting to tap into the nation’s next wave of talent. Teviot Row House and La Belle Angele are both great venues for new music so it goes without saying that everyone at Ticketmaster is absolutely stoked to be partnering with Wide Days to present this year’s live showcases.”

“Wide Days presents a great opportunity to hit an international audience here in Scotland”

Several discounts are available through partner organisations AIM, PPL and PRS, while Help Musicians Scotland will provide specially bursary places for emerging artists and industry professionals who would not otherwise be able attend due to financial barriers.

Vanessa Reed, CEO of PRS Foundation, comments: “Congratulations to Wide Days as they enter their tenth year in providing vital support and development opportunities for talented music creators in Scotland. We are proud to fund this award-winning showcasing event yet again as they expand and welcome new partners in 2019. The success stories we have seen at PRS Foundation are testament to the excellent work of the Wide Days team on a grassroots level – including Wide Days alumni Fatherson, who we are directly supporting to go to SXSW this year.

“I look forward to seeing the impact this support will have on the careers of the new showcasing artists.”

“We launched Antidote Booking with a strong international outlook; we have a wide variety of acts on the roster all of which are export ready,” adds Jamie Webster, co-founder of Antidote Booking. “Wide Days presents a great opportunity to hit an international audience here in Scotland. Our showcase presents three outstanding acts, Man of Moon, Tom McGuire and the Brassholes and Carla J. Easton, all of which have played high-profile shows at home and abroad already and have recently released new music.”

Robert Kilpatrick, general manager of SMIA (Scottish Music Industry Association, says: “Wide Days continues to provide an incredibly important and valuable opportunity for music practitioners at all levels to learn, network and discover fantastic new music. As the organisation tasked with representing and developing Scotland’s music industry, the SMIA is delighted to again support Wide Days as it enters its tenth year with its most expansive programme of activity to date.”


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Encouraging music tourism

In November 2016, I hosted the world’s first Music Tourist Summit in Glasgow (the UK’s first UNESCO City of Music) aimed at fostering closer ties between the music and tourism industries and laying the foundations to develop a global network and consultancy.

The event began with a day of TED-style talks and workshops hosted in a brewery, followed by evening networking activities and a music tour the next morning involving visits to several key venues.

Speakers included representatives from Icelandair, ICS Festival Service’s Full Metal Cruise, an Oslo hotel with its own recording studio, a tour operator offering packages to an electronic music festival in Cuba, and an AC/DC tribute festival in the small Scottish town where Bon Scott lived before his family emigrated to Australia. Moreover, delegates also heard from industry organisation UK Music, whose most recent Wish You Were Here report estimates that live music tourism is worth £3.7 billion (€4.3bn) to the British economy.

By the end of the first day of the summit, 53% of survey respondents stated that they were ‘very likely’ (with a further 29% responding ‘likely’) to do business with the other sector – and that was before the whisky tasting got underway.

Given that these figures are based on delegates who had met only hours earlier, they indicate the huge potential of what could be achieved if music and tourism businesses work together in a concerted manner. Nevertheless, in far too many places throughout the world, the music and tourism industries still appear to operate in parallel universes. Many festival promoters appear resigned to the lack of engagement from destination marketing organisations (DMOs) and governments (local, regional and national), which often appear to feel more comfortable targeting segments such as food/drink, city breaks, walking/nature, golf, or MICE (meetings, incentives, conferences, exhibitions).

As a result, music tourists are not being encouraged to extend their stays, thereby depriving visitor attractions, restaurants, bars and accommodation providers of business. And in an age where travel decisions are increasingly made on the basis of recommendations, this means destinations are missing out on valuable word-of-mouth promotion.

“In far too many places throughout the world, the music and tourism industries still appear to operate in parallel universes”

Prior to launching Music Tourist, I spent several years highlighting the benefits of co-operation and have recently noticed encouraging signs that previously disinterested DMOs, governments, hoteliers and public bodies are slowly beginning to take notice. In part this is due to a growing awareness of initiatives in cities such as Austin, Nashville and Hamburg, but it also reflects the emergence of a new generation of individuals in both industries who are keen to seek out new opportunities.

Since 2011, the Wish You Were Here report (to which I contributed preliminary research) has served as an additional tool to get the attention of decision makers both in the UK and internationally. However, as it focuses only on people travelling for the purpose of attending a music event (as do most economic impact studies conducted by festivals) it fails to reveal the full potential. Visitors taking part in music retreats, residential workshops and music-based tours are currently excluded from the study, as are tourists travelling for other reasons but who may be keen to experience the local musical offerings. For venues, promoters, musicians and even record shops, the latter should be of most interest, as it is where many opportunities lie. Tourism research indicates a trend where people want to feel local (rather than like a tourist) and going to a gig is the perfect way to engage with the indigenous community.

Grassroots venues, in particular, can benefit from focusing marketing activity where it reaches visitors (eg accommodation providers, tourism information offices and travel websites). Moreover, the MICE market offers great potential as corporate clients seek out more original locations and experiences, which can involve hiring clubs for events and programming music activity.

Conversely, when hoteliers, as well as visitor attractions such as museums, galleries, castles and churches, are interested in working with music, they are often unsure of how to go about engaging with promoters, artists, agents and managers.

Music Tourist is a forum where they can all connect, and by working with partners to host summits around the world, it will seek to prioritise local requirements while simultaneously creating ties on an international level.

Since the inaugural event in November, Glasgow City Marketing Bureau has announced that music will form a key element of its promotional strategy. Scotland’s visitor attractions are set to benefit from an influx of thousands of metal cruisers, and Cuban musicians will be hired to perform for German visitors. These early outcomes are encouraging and are the first steps in building a community around music tourism, where everyone can feel local.


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