SME London, who already work with the BBC on Countryfile and Doctor Who events, joined forces with the broadcaster to bring a new consumer music show to the market this month. Tim Etchells, SME London’s managing director talked to EN about the launch of Amplify at ExCeL, London
Hi Tim, how did it go?
It was amazing! It was also a real challenge to deliver a launch show in a short space of time. Normally when someone in events says they’ve got this great idea and no one’s done it before, I usually reply with “there’s probably a good reason for that!” And obviously some of that is in the back of your mind. But yes, we’re relieved and we’ve established an event with really good legs.
Describe the show – why BBC Introducing?
There’s been nothing like it before. In fact, it’s not an easy thing to describe! The BBC came to me with the idea, in about April/May – it was going to be the tenth anniversary of BBC Introducing in October, so we didn’t have long!
If you don’t know Introducing, it’s where up and coming musicians upload tracks to website. Every local radio station has an Introducing platform. Tom Odell, and Florence + the Machine came to the public through BBC Introducing and half a million tracks have been uploaded since it started.
What does Amplify provide for its audience?
We asked ourselves what do the visitors want? It’s in three parts, really.
First of all, to hear from the industry – hear from musicians about their story, what their journey was. Secondly, it’s to learn about the industry – the legal stuff, getting a manager, etc, ie the administrative and business side. And thirdly, it’s to get their hands on kit and do networking, meet other people – and potential band members.
Where else would you have sessions called ‘WTF is music publishing?’ and ‘5 guestlist + beers plus waters: how to get a gig’?
Yes! We had 30 sessions a day – on advisory, legal and so on, like ‘Finding a manager’ and ‘what kind of deals can I make?’ and I was gobsmacked at how full those were.
Who came and exhibited in terms of music brands and who from inside the industry gave you support?
Exhibitors included Yamaha, Marshall, Soundcloud and smaller stands. It very much had a live music feel on the day and the visitors were overwhelmingly musicians.
At the feedback clinic, Steve Lamacq and Jo Whiley gave their time. Annie Mac left with about 100 discs, two got played – I love that our show gave a kid the opportunity to be played on Radio 1 that night. All the big names did it for nothing. It was their way of giving back.
Plus in terms of getting our message out to industry for support, our sales guy also happens to be a musician, so he was able to talk to industry. We had key people in the BBC help us as well.
Will you be returning next year?
We need to give colleges more advance notice to arrange groups to visit and the best time is probably Feb/March, so we plan to come back in 2019 round then. The UK is blessed with some really excellent music colleges and we had lots of visitors from colleges, I was so pleased because they are really, truly talented.