From Me To You – a one day music conference from and for independent music artists

As an artist in today’s music industry, the amount of advice available to you can be a little overwhelming. Everyone has a different opinion on what aspect of the industry you should focus on, which social media platforms to use, how to release your music, the type of people you should have on your team, or indeed whether or not you should have a team at all!

It’s confusing and often misleading, which is why artist-led events like From Me To You, founded by singer-songwriter Roxanne de Bastion, are so important.

A notably more-affordable and accessible event than most similar events, From Me To You is a one-day music conference ‘from and for independent music artists’. 2018’s installment was hosted at Rich Mix, East London and hosted panels on everything from growing your audience to the importance of failure when pursuing a creative career.

Scaling – How to sustainably grow your fan base off and online

Moderator: Eckoes (artist)

Panelists: Alex Mattinson (manager at Air MTM), Lyla Foy (artist), Jeff Courtney (Mute Records)

Key takeaways:

On social media:

  • Map out your social media / release plan for the next year
  • Mix scheduled announcements on social media with ‘real life stuff’
  • Make your posts and visual identity as an artist as coherent and natural as possible
  • Jeff Courtney advised artists to always ensure a link to their music is pinned to the top of their social media pages and to post weekly reminders directing fans to your Spotify page

On data and investing in PR / digital marketing:

  • Use smart URLs and pivot links to gather data – think about the user experience, make it as easy for your audience to access your music as possible
  • Analyse your data on Facebook and Instagram to work out what time of day you get the most engagement on posts
  • Jeff Courtney advised artists to put their money towards creating great content and assets – music, visuals etc – but reserve some budget for digital spend on social media
  • Lyla Foy advised artists to invest in their visual identity – ‘something that makes you a little different’. She recommended spending time connecting with people; that it’s more effective to contact them yourself rather than paying thousands of pounds for someone else to do it

On live performances:

  • Alex Mattinson encouraged artists to collaborate and find out the promoters and bands that you may have an affinity with
  • Lyla Foy agreed that collaboration is an effective strategy and recommended contacting other artists to tour together

On building a following and breaking down barriers:

  • Alex Mattinson advised ‘Set out your stall… everyone starts out with zero followers. Just tell people what you do’
  • Jeff Courtney said ‘Be ready… always put your best stuff out’
  • Lyla Foy said ‘If you find yourself in a minority, turn it around and use it to your advantage’
Photo: Amanda Rose
Photo: Amanda Rose

Flailing – Overcoming the physical and emotional struggles of being an artist

Moderator: Jake Morely (artist and founder of Comusic Club)

Panelists: Katie Pickles (artist – Pillars), Kezia Racher (Help Musicians UK), Matthew Reynolds (artist)

Key takeaways:

  • Kezia Racher said that the Help Musicians UK’s Music Minds Matter support service is available to all musicians, even if you’re struggling with something that’s not directly linked to your career
  • Kate Pickles talked about her magazine Behind The Mask, which looks into how careers in music can affect mental health. She said ‘We’re always switched on as artists… but we don’t ask each other how we are enough’
  • Jake Morely advised that when times are tough to ‘return to your music… find something that gives you nourishment’
  • Matthew Reynolds talked about how important it is to look after your physical health as well as mental – advising artists to make sure that they’re eating properly, sleeping enough and moderating how much alcohol they drink

Keynote with Rookes: ‘What they don’t tell you’

Rookes (Jenny Bulcraig) presented her musical keynote ‘What they don’t tell you’, offering plenty of advice and anecdotes to the audience.

Rookes’ top tips:

  • Keep your icons close to you – ‘borrow their confidence’
  • ‘It takes on average 3-6 years minimum graft before you get anywhere’
  • When thinking about longevity, make sure you generate enough room to continually innovate that makes you excited
  • Educate yourself on the resources available to you – unions and guilds and mental health support services like Help Musicians UK and Music Support
  • On representation, particularly for minority groups – ‘Do not live in competition with one another – if one of us wins, we all win’
  • ‘There will be multiple opportunities… life isn’t really a straight line, it’s a dance’
  • Make sure you have some experiences outside the industry – ‘have some adventures to write about’
  • Don’t be afraid of getting a second job!
  • Make sure your live show is as good as possible
  • ‘Hold your dreams with open hands’
Photo: Amanda Rose
Photo: Amanda Rose

Failing – The importance of failure for creative success – what it is, how we deal with it and what do we learn from it

Moderator: Roxanne de Bastion (artist and founder of FM2U)

Panelists: Martin Mills (Beggars Group), Lisbee Stainton (artist), CJ Thorpe-Tracey (MD at Lo-Fi Arts), Laima Leyton (MD at GRRRL)

Key takeaways:

On failing:

  • Roxanne de Bastion said ‘It’s important in a smoke and mirrors industry to talk about what doesn’t go right’
  • Martin Mills advised ‘You have to ignore the failures and build on the successes… one person’s failure is another person’s success’
  • CJ Thorpe-Tracey asked ‘How are we defining success and failure?’ and added that ‘We aren’t the product – our music is the product’
  • Lisbee Stainton said that ‘Failure is progress… you need to fail, to have things go wrong’

On taking risks:

  • Martin Mills said ‘In every area of life, great people fail – because they take risks’
  • CJ Thorpe-Tracey advised artists to cultivate a mix of what they really want to make creatively with what they think will be commercially successful – ‘Know what your intention is at that moment’
  • Lisbee Stainton added that ‘when you are creating something, you are by nature taking a risk’

Q&A with Jeremy Pritchard (Everything Everything)

Jeremy Pritchard – bassist of indie-rock band Everything Everything – spoke to Roxanne de Bastion about his career so far and shared some advice with the audience members.

  • A slow build to success can be a good thing
  • ‘The road is littered with the corpses of artists who chase trends then die’
  • On Brexit – ‘bands won’t be able to tour anymore’. For those interested in learning more, there is a petition for free movement for music artists post-Brexit – more info here
  • ‘Keep making the music that you’re making – success will come to you if what you’re doing is good’
Photo: Amanda Rose
Photo: Amanda Rose

Ask me anything – An open panel of industry experts to answer all your unanswered questions

Moderator: Terry Tyldesley (Feral Five / Resonate)

Panelists: Cliff Fluet (Lewis Silken), Selina Wedderburn (PPL), Lucie Caswell (FAC), Dilys Uwagboe (artist – Eckoes)

Key takeaways:

  • Discussion about DJs and rights to using other artists songs – general consensus was that above all, we should be making sure that revenue goes to creators
  • On how to establish a team, the panel recommended services such as AWAL, Believe and The Orchard and discussed the multiple platforms available to build a fanbase, adding that the options for artists are dizzying. Lucie Caswell said ‘there isn’t a single route’
  • Lucie Caswell also talked about the FAC and how they can connect artists with different opportunities
  • Terry Tyldesley said that above all, ‘relationships still rule’
  • Selina Wedderburn encouraged all artists to make sure they had signed up to PPL to collect the royalties they are entitled to, stressing that there is a six year limit on collecting unpaid royalties, and to consider attending PPL’s ‘in-sessions’ for artists

The event ended with some good old networking drinks at the local pub with a distinct sense that, even in these tumultuous times, there are allies and resources out there for artists at every stage of their careers.

Feature image: Amanda Rose

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