The Beat Goes On— How Liverpool is helping to haul the music industry into the 21st Century. Writer— Sam Turner
Clockwise from left— Jam session outside Kazimier. Crowd enjoying Royal Blood. Audience watches Kodaline. Beach Skulls perform live.
Photography— Pete Carr
Music has often being termed the lifeblood of Liverpool. As reliable as the Mersey estuary, bringing in trade, new experiences and good times. Music has always been there through the hard times and it has soundtracked the celebrations. From dingy cellars in the 60s Merseybeat boom to a man called Macca returning to the city’s Mecca, Anfield in the Capital of Culture year. Buoyed by bands like Outfit, All We Are and Dan Croll breaking out on to national radio waves, events conceived on Merseyside are being rolled out around the world and Liverpool-based businesses actually making money from music. There’s an atmosphere of confidence. Right by that same river that brought in the first rock'n'roll records all those years ago, entrepreneurs are placing Liverpool back on the musical map and helping the industry adapt to a changing landscape once again. “Music as a cultural product is more popular and more consumed than it ever has been in history, whether that’s listening to records, going to more shows, engaging with music producers in different ways. From that perspective it’s undeniably buoyant and there’s a massive opportunity for people that work within the music industry.” Craig G. Pennington is typical of this new found optimism, and not without reason. Pennington is Editor-in-Chief at Bido Lito! the Liverpool music scene’s leading publication and co-curator of Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia. In only its second year the festival brought 4,000 people to the city and has sprouted an off-shoot in the inaugural Eindhoven Psych Lab, which takes place this June. Liverpool International Festival of Psychedelia is one of a number of high profile events that the city hosts in a busy summer period. Supported by a slew of new music venues that have opened in the last ten years, Liverpool has readily taken to the likes of Sound City, the UK’s biggest urban music festival. The city’s concentrated centre with bars and venues a short walk away from each other makes it perfect for the May event. The three-day festival, the brainchild of Dave Pichilingi, brings nearly 400 artists to the city along with 45,000 music fans and runs alongside a conference discussing the industry side of the art. “We started Sound City with the aim that business would be the heartbeat of it while also creating an infrastructure here. I’m very proud of Liverpool. There’s no reason why people have to go to London anymore,” says Pichilingi from his Baltic Triangle base. The Sound City conference this year welcomed key-note speakers John Cale (of The Velvet Underground), Thurston Moore (of Sonic Youth) and Jerome Champagne (FIFA presidential candidate). Liverpool’s other great cultural export, football was also up for discussion at the conference this year along with the style industry.
Pichilingi explains: “We got a bit of criticism when we said we would do football, but in business, you have to be open to everything. Great businesses look at their competitors to learn. That’s how you grow. So we’ve learned from others within our industry what about learning from other industries, like football, like style?” It’s this open-mindedness which has helped the industry flourish. Rather than the music business dying, Pennington believes that it has only become fractured, with the result being more opportunities from a multitude of revenue streams. “I think it’s just made it much more lattice-like, dense and complex and a lot harder to apply much older Fordian structures like the way it used to be. The problem is that the original business model that the industry was based on has been completely ripped apart. So the challenge for the modern music industry is to try and construct an exciting workable business model to support that cultural industry in the next 40 or 50 years – that’s the challenge.” Two organisations which are working to this new model are Ditto Music and Sentric. Ditto is an online music distribution service which allows independent musicians to make their music available across the plethora of web-based streaming and download platforms. Sentric is a rights management service dealing with the publishing side of music and bringing about sync opportunities for artists. Ditto Music is another business which has grown out of Liverpool and now has an international presence with offices in Melbourne and Nashville. Mike Townsend,
Sound City 2014 took place over three days, with 365 artists playing 25 venues across the city.
Published on May 30, 2014
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