Interview: Kate Mullins, Resident Advisor
RA has managed to be the dominant editorial voice and ticket provider in the electronic music industry for many years, how has this been maintained so successfully?
Since RA’s inception in 2001 our aim has been to support the electronic music industry, from promoters and venue owners through to artists and music fans. We’ve created an ecosystem of content, directories and industry tools that keep millions of users engaging with the site daily and it's this community that keeps RA thriving. It’s important we provide our users with tangible benefits: our in-depth editorial content goes way beyond the clubs, giving our readers a deeper insight into local scenes around the world and, on the ticketing side, we ensure we keep our booking fees as low as possible - everything we do aims to support the electronic music community in some way and I think people respect us for that.
There’s a lot of talk about VR and 360-video being the next big things in online music consumption. Is this the case, or is it an over-exaggerated trend? What else is on the horizon?
VR and 360-video are important mediums because they provide accessibility to people who can’t experience live music events in the flesh and its making that home-viewing experience the best it can possibly be. VR is also a great creative platform to experience music in an augmented reality, taking your sensory experience to the next level. Onionlab created five imaginary worlds to promote a single from Undo at the Southbank, which completely transformed your relationship with the music. Björk took revellers on a 90-minute journey at Sonar +D (amongst other cultural institutions) at her VR exhibition Björk Digital - she said "Virtual Reality is not only a continuity to the music video, it has an even more intimate theatrical potential, ideal for this emotional journey.” In my opinion, does VR + 360-video replace experiencing live music first-hand in a club or at a show? No, definitely not, but they could have a real impact on how people consume music at home or in the art space.
In terms of incoming music consumption methods, online radio is definitely an expanding platform for new music discovery and supporting new talent, and there’s a real sense of community with radio that other platforms don’t necessarily instigate. There’s also a huge community around record buying / crate digging at the moment. Vinyl sales have been at their highest in 25 years, which shows a real commitment to that quality home listening experience - it’s not a cheap hobby(!).
A lot of electronic music fans, those in RA’s audience, can be fairly unreceptive to inauthentic brand partnerships. What is your approach when working with brands?
We’re in an age where branded content floods the internet and there's a hell of a lot of it out there. Some good, some bad, some really really bad. So you’re vying for people’s attention and you have to create something that warrants their time. We have a simple rule when creating brand partnerships at RA - do something that genuinely benefits the electronic music industry. Work with brands on projects that shine a spotlight on great people in the industry. Encourage positive change. Support nightlife - get people into clubs, create an entry point for those just getting into the scene to explore something deeper. There’s so many great projects to work on. Its important for brands to build credibility on a cultural level before they can see the benefits of increased product perception, engagement and sales.
Can you tell us about a particularly creative or successful brand partnership you’ve established in the last few years?
We’ve been working with the brilliant people at Absolut for a year now and it goes to show how a joint desire from the both of us to support local scenes around the UK can have a genuine impact on promoters and collectives in our world. We’ve avoided the age-old formula of using brand investment to get big headliners to perform and asked ourselves how can this partnership give back to the scene? And it's centred around visibility for small promoters and a creative platform to showcase their tireless work in keeping their local nightlife scenes thriving. We're currently building a hub to showcase the films we've shot about a number of crews, the live streams of rare sets from artists we booked with them, and the mixes, photography and vox pops of key industry figures that will contribute to the story of how special the scene is here in the UK. This will be live on RA in the new year...
Where do you see the most rapid and exciting growth coming from in live electronic music?
The support of diversity, particularly visibility for women in the industry has seen a much needed rise. This industry has always been notoriously male-dominated but there's been bigger and brighter spotlights shined on females doing amazing work in electronic music, particularly from inspiring promoters like Siren, BBZ London and Meat Free based in Manchester. The latter of which will feature in our next Alternate Cuts series. Their parties are open to everyone with a focus on visibility for women being active in the scene. With visibility comes greater accessibility into the industry for future generations.
For more, visit Resident Advisor's website or watch some of their 360 stream of Flow Festival in Helsinki below (sound on!)