3 Inspirational Talks We Saw at the International Music Summit
FRUKT were lucky enough to attend the International Music Summit (IMS) for electronic music, in Ibiza this year. 2017’s edition saw IMS proudly celebrate its 10th anniversary, under the theme of “Connecting Our Culture” – a poignant and rich topic that informed the summits direction.
The schedule was packed with stimulating debates and interviews with top electronic music talent and industry thought leaders. The prominent theme revolved around nurturing the industry, not just reaping its huge successes but discussing ways to make it sustainable for the future.
Three panels stood out for their importance in how they could bring about the most long-term change: Gender disparity, staying sane in the music game and why clubland is in crisis.
Only 17% of headline DJs are female, and DJ Mag’s end of year list only had 2 women on it.
1.BALANCING THE RATIO: GENDER DISPARITY IN ELECTRONIC MUSIC
Smirnoff Sound Collective and She.Said.So, a female music industry network, joined forces to host a panel, alongside Miss Kittin, Ralf Kollmann (founder of Mobilee) and Terry Weerasinghe (Beatport). The panel openly discussed issues of gender disparity in the industry and ways to balance the ratio. Starting with changing the mindset of music fans, and music executives alike. Smirnoff, working alongside She said.so have pledged to promote long term change – they created a commitment to work with people over 3 years, by 2020 they aim to double the number of women headliners, without it being a token.
The dismal reality is that only 17% of headline DJs are female and voter polls are still reflecting this disparity. DJ Mag’s end of year Top 100 DJs list only had 2 women on it and RA’s Top 100 had 8. Worryingly, Ultra Festival’s talent roster is only 3% female.
Another huge opportunity is to instill early implementation of equality. Great programs such as Future DJs are offering DJ and music production classes to primary school children, teaching them from a young age that whatever gender you are, the opportunities are just the same.
But this isn’t enough to make an immediate change, talent, executives and fans alike need to encourage certain music companies to sign up and commit to a pledge to take pro-active steps towards this issue.
2.HEALTH VS HEDONISM: STAYING SANE IN THE GAME
How does one succeed in the music business - both physically, mentally and emotionally? The panel Andreas Allen (Native Instruments), artists Louisahhh and Monki and Rachel Turner (Business Psychologist & Performance Coach) discussed ways of training your brain to stay present, to deal with psychological stress, and how to not burn out when on the road touring. Working in the music industry, and electronic music in particular, comes with long hours, night-time schedules, creative pressure and round-the-clock work stress. In contrast to that, there is an increasingly common understanding that health and well-being add to the chances of a more sustainable career, whether you are an artist or an executive.
Artists are now, more than ever, expected to have a public image and share their personal life, usually through social media. Mentally this can be taxing, and it can affect artist’s personally. Meanwhile, the internet adds another layer of complexity, in which there’s always someone that won’t appreciate your work. It’s really important for artists to create some distance to remain resilient. It helps to take the approach of "trying out new things" - and to understand that failing will only ever improve your output in the long run.
As an agency that frequently works with emerging artists through workshops, training and new music platforms, we're always looking to filter guidance through to all the touchpoints where we help young artists.
Sadly, promoters are only able to speak to the media in a reactive way. The industry should be doing more to talk about the issue in advance
3.CLUBLAND IN CRISIS?
A diverse panel of senior industry executives such as Ulrike Schönfeld (Into The Valley Promoter), Eric Reithler-Barros (CCO at A2LiVE), Steffen Charles (CEO at Cosmopop) and Alice Favre (LWE, Operations Director, UK) discussed why for many venues, the industry is in crisis despite great positive changes over the last 10 years – from tragedies such as drug deaths to property development and licensing laws – they debated how to prepare and avert the inevitable from happening again.
What particularly resonated was the big issue of how Health & Safety gets brought up in the headlines whenever something goes wrong. Sadly, promoters are only able to speak to the media in a reactive way. The industry should be doing more to talk about the issue in advance, educating the media – proudly discussing how much of an event budget is spent on Health & Safety, policing and emergency workers.
The discussion moved onto a topic that has very close to our hearts here in London – the closure of iconic nightclubs due to the redevelopment of areas. DJ Nicole Moudaber highlighted the closing of Turnmills and The End as a classic example of the multi-millionaire pound developers pushing venues out of their homes, to maximize profit.
Alice from the prolific London promoter LWE, says this isn’t necessarily the only factor – the licensing act plays a huge part in the problems. In her experience, it seems licensing and planning aren’t linked, both departments don’t talk to each other, which LWE are taking steps to try and change. LWE, also have a rare success story, in that they’ve been running day parties since 2014, as they found it challenging to get nighttime licenses. They thought they would try more day time parties and it’s worked!
With all these encroaching pressures on the electronic music industry, IMS is a great place for the industry to stand up, honestly discuss the issues that are most likely to draw negative attention and accept its errors and inconsistencies. By vocalising them and putting intelligent heads together they can genuinely try to solve the problems that will help to ensure this genre will flourish and develop in the future.