|Interview: John 00 Fleming, director of Brighton Music Conference|
|Written by Dimitri Kechagias|
Following a hugely successful debut in 2014, Brighton Music Conference (BMC) returns to the UK’s South Coast city for a two-day event on 5th & 6th June 2015. Reflecting the concept behind BMC, tickets are split between BMC Professional (for industry professionals) and BMC Academy (for students and non-professionals).
Some of the core contributors and partners for 2015 include YouTube, Facebook, BPI, Beatport, DJ Mag, Music Week, BIMM, Point Blank, PRS For Music, PPL, BPI, AIM, MPA, Access to Music, Youth Music, and LNADJ.
This year’s sponsors are Native Instruments, Ableton, Allen & Heath, Audio Technica, Focusrite, Novation, Funktion One, PRS for Music, PPL. Sennheiser, and Next Audio Labs.
One month before the actual conference is great opportunity to interview John Fleming who is the heart, soul and director of BMC to talk about the conference and offer you a short glimpse of what you will enjoy if you come to the South Coast city in the UK when you will breath and leave electronic music only.
Dimitri: First of all congratulations for your initiative starting this great conference for electronic music. Why did you decide that BMC was needed by the electronic music scene in the UK, and when and under what circumstances did you get the idea?
John Fleming: Thank you, its been a huge team effort from my partners; Nicola, Billy and myself and over four years in the making, so a lot of work and passion involved.
The UK has played a huge part in the history in the roots of the Electronic music industry with many of the main artists, labels and industry players being from or based here, yet the main conferences and hubs for business seem to abroad. The business model of the music industry has dramatically changed over the past decade, with less income due to torrent sharing so labels etc can no longer to afford to send staff abroad to attend conferences and network. As we found with the success of our first year of BMC, the industry were thankful to have such an event on their doorstep in their home country.
Dimitri: BMC last year was a huge success and out of the blue became one of the most anticipated events on the calendar for this year for anyone who wants to get involved in the Electronic Music scene. Can you recall for us any stand-out moments from BMC last year.
John Fleming: The main thing for all of us at BMC was seeing the wow factor on everyone’s face as the entered this historic 18thcentenary building, as most people are use to a first year conference being a small conference room in the base of a small hotel. The size of the venue, with an expo, main conference studio, seminar and tutorial rooms and a lot more. Each day was absolutely packed with content.
Dimitri: The question that comes to mind is why you decided that Brighton was the perfect location, and not for instance the capital that is London. I guess you could have more resources and venues taking part, or that’s not the case?
John Fleming: Same question could be asked looking at the USA, why Miami and not the capital city Washington DC or New York? Large cities become a logistical challenge moving round to the various venues across the city, and can be very costly not only taxis but hotels etc. Brighton lends itself to hosting such an event like with, within a 10 min walk you can get from the conference to all the venues, making networking much easier setting up meetings etc with of course those chance meetings when you bump into people in the street.
Dimitri: Let's take a closer look at this years event. How much will cost to organise and did you manage to cover those costs, or do you expect it to cover them from entrance fees? Do you feel that the entrance prices are sensible, and can young people who want to be part of it, afford them?
John Fleming: The entrance fee has been the main attraction for the academy side as it’s only £15 that covers two days. This was important to me as we want to help the next generation and the key to this is making it affordable for them as many will be paying four times this much for their train fair alone!
Dimitri: It would be great to pin-point for us your Top 10 favourite sessions from the daily conference program that you recommend the visitor attends, and why?
John Fleming: It’s impossible to name top 10’s etc because each session will have a diffident meaning to each individual. Some are going there to learn about song writing, while others are wanting to know how to get gigs for example. We spent four years researching with our advisors to cover ever angle of the music industry to give help, knowledge and tools of how to make a career in the music industry and importantly how to make an income.
Dimitri: If a young talented producer and DJ came to you during the conference and asked you if they should follow their dream for a career in the music scene because there is a chance to make a decent leaving out of it, what you will say to them in relation with the BMC Academy initiative?
John Fleming: Yes they can. This is the most important question to ask yourself before you embark on your music career, something many don’t and why many fail. You need to understand your income revenues to understand in order to make the right decision upon your journey, something we give plenty of advice on.
Dimitri: Do you agree with those who believe that streaming will replace consumption of music, or do you see streaming as supplementing the other forms like downloads, CDS?
John Fleming: This is the biggest question in the music industry at the moment and something we’re covering in the main music conference where we’ll have the likes of Spotify, Beatport and more telling us in great detail their vision. So I myself am very interested in what they have to say.
Dimitri: There is a considerable resurrection of the vinyl market in UK with even weekly charts of the vinyl sales. Can you outline briefly the advantages and disadvantages of vinyl, and if you see this form coming back soon?
John Fleming: To me these are false figures fuelled by mainstream media who can't get their facts straight. There’s been a massive spike in the second hand vinyl sales market place due to people buying digital versions of their dusty old records as they no longer get used. That’s where these inflated sales figures have come from.
Dimitri: Nowadays we see the explosion of festivals like Tomorrowland or Creamfields in the UK. What is your opinion of them? Do artists and record labels get paid from the music played at those festivals and do the DJ's at the end of their sets submit their playlists?
John Fleming: Yes this happens at the larger festivals, we all have to submit our track lists, but this also depends on their licence and what the rules are, that can change from each country. Some do and some don’t and will be covered by a general PPL license (their country equivalent) .
Dimitri: Do you see the festival market taking over the club market with less and less club events organised as the people save money to pay the very expensive entrance fees to festivals, and do you believe that those entrance fees are justifiable?
John Fleming: It’s all part of the organic cycle of the wonderful electronic music scene, when festivals boom and get bigger the true music lovers head back underground to get their stimulation of true artists that can express themselves in underground clubs with amazing sound systems. Festivals attract the masses that seem more worried about pointing their camera phones at superstars, selfies and status updates. Yes festivals are booming, but this is fuelling the underground club scene that we’re seeing today.
Dimitri: There is strong involvement of Beatport, Ableton and YouTube at BMC. Would you like to tell us in what ways these giants will be part of the conference and what the visitors will gain from their participation?
John Fleming: There is no better way to learn these products than to get up close and personal with the people behind these tools and see their seminars, tutorials and get to hang out with them and ask them questions. Some artists maybe unsure what software to use and this is a perfect opportunity to experience all of them and what they can do before you make an expensive mistake. You’ll be surrounded likewise people and can share experiences and advice along with many established artist who will be there to help too.
Dimitri: Are there many true DJ's and producers out there now, or do you feel that the ghost producers trend is getting out of hand as DJ's must have a track in order to get more bookings?
John Fleming: Ghost producers have been around since recorded music was born, it’s only become known publicly due to social media where people talk openly about it. Most of the pop stars or bands that you would have grown up will most probably have ghost writers behind them. While some frown upon it, others embrace it. Rather than fight it, embrace it as it shows another avenue to create income or a career path. The more knowledge you have about the music industry, the more likely you will survive.
Dimitri: The evening programme at BMC is packed with top nights. Which artists and clubs take part and are we going to have a nice Trance night too?
John Fleming: There’s loads going on, from Techno, Progressive, Breaks and yes Trance. Pop to our website for full listings.
Dimitri: Social media, army of fans and followers, ambassadors of festivals and record labels. What is your position on the active participation of electronic music fans, and in what ways can artists benefit from that interaction?
John Fleming: That’s part of the business these days, fans want to be able to reach out to their heroes and read what they are doing on a daily basis. I think this happens in our personal lives too, like it or loath it, it’s a very big part of an artists career and again something that we’re covering in great detail to give everyone the tools and knowledge of how to handle social media tools.
Dimitri: Is there any plan to stream or to upload on YouTube some of the panels from BMC for those who cannot make it there?
John Fleming: We wont be streaming on the day, but will give highlights after…. That just means that you need to come along in person ;)
Dimitri: Finally, just give us three reasons why an electronic music follower should consider a visit to Brighton and the BMC?
John Fleming: You love your numbers questions! I could give you 103 reasons, so impossible to narrow it down. To simplify it, if you want to make a serious career in the music industry, if you’re a student, a newbie bedroom artist and even establish then come along as we will gave you all the professional help, guidance and tools in order to make your own way, and right choice to help you on your way. This is a once a year opportunity here at home in the UK.
Thanks to John Fleming for finding the time to reply to this interview
Date: 5th & 6th June 2015