Thinking about all the events that I have participated in this year 2019 that is about to end, I must highlight without any doubt the 10th edition of the Future Music Forum (FMF) as it is a pure gem for effective networking.
FMF was held as the tradition marks, at the original Old Damm Beer Brewery in Barcelona, between September 11th and 13th, and it covered a huge variety of topics, not only from the main fancy industry perspective but also from the point of view of the underground community, which had a very great niche with participations of prodigies like Matthew Herbert, Roger Sanchez and Blurt Blackarach, among others.
I had the pleasure to cover the decade anniversary of FMF, and now I am sharing my feelings, thoughts and experiences, so you may get the vibe of this event where friendly attitudes, partnerships, creativity and open-mindedness to innovation emerged.
Day 1 (Multicultural opening party):
After some dark non-stop rainy days in Barcelona, FMF´s first day arrived with the opening party on the Rooftop at the Pulitzer Hotel near Plaza Catalunya, the very heart of the city.
Around 7.30 pm the ambiance was already full of musicians, managers, label owners, and all kinds of people related to the music business meeting and building relations. Indeed, the warmth of the weather blessed us, it was perfect for this great inauguration that began under a beautiful sunset.
Trending a line between Hip Hop and Jazz, L´hologramme live performance caught the whole audience and definitely was the musical top-notch of this opening session. When the sun was already under the horizon, a proper selection of housy indie beats by DJ Virginie kept the vibe going on. I definitely was having a great time, meeting lots of new friends and connecting with people from all over the world in a pretty cool location.
Near midnight the crowd was starting to leave the place, I imagined preparing themselves for the event´s main dish on the next day. In my case, the Future Music Forum opening session overcame my expectations, and I was totally looking forward to the next couple of days.
Day 2 (The academic heart of the event):
I could not fall a sleep until 2:00 am in the morning, so I was unfortunately not the first one to arrive at the Antigua Fábrica de Cerveza Damm. After taking a look at my credential, the security guards at the entrance guided me to the main conference room called Sala Máquinas where I took a seat next to some colleagues that I had met the previous day.
At Máquinas room, the day´s main topic was the “future of music”; in this regard, I was able to listen to very interesting keynotes, such as “chief innovation” by Scott Cohen from Warner Music, as well as another about “data analyses in music industry” by Mark Mulligan from MiDIA Research. Additionally, there were reference companies like Soundcloud, Spotify, Mixcloud, Sony, Warner and Shazam lecturing about analytics, copyright management, content creation and fan engagement.
After these conferences, I thought it was time to walk around the event and see what was additionally happening; upstairs I found a cool terrace in which new faces mixed with already known people were enthusiastically chatting, getting in and out of the alternative conference room called Sala Básculas, that was just in front of the second floor’s terrace. During the early hours, Basculas had a focus on “digital content creators and new tech”, where Jason Blinks presented his conference “how is the music industry evolving and the way it analyses, understands and segments its audience”.
It was almost mid day and the “new tech within music industry” topic sounded interesting, but I certainly preferred to stay in the terrace talking with Matt, a very interesting German guy, about the musician’s status and consideration in today’s society. We deeply discussed (and also complained) about what most people think about being musicians as a profession. My networking session on this second day had just started.
At about 1:00 pm the one and only British master Matthew Herbert was almost ready to start his conference, and I did not want to loose any minute of it. I have been following Herbert´s work since a long time, and personally I admire him not only for his work as a versatile musician, but specially for his highly political focus in which via art, tries to re-create our world as a better place for all. Despite the fact that Mathews´s talk was far from being full, his audience engaged totally. I thoroughly enjoyed that conference from the beginning to the end.
Once Mr Herbert finished his sensational keynote about prediction, regarding the growth of organic music in the near future, then the mental health conferences started; firstly with a panel session moderated by Matt Campion featuring among others Jordan Stephens and Ariane Paras; and secondly with a presentation about “the relationship between music and positive mental health” by Audiencenete. At this point after thinking twice whether to attend or not, I finally decided that my hunger was my own health priority, so I decided to eat my delicious and big Spanish serrano ham sandwich in company with some other colleagues as every moment at the terrace was a great opportunity to meet new people and therefore open new worlds.
At the event’s main room, Emilien Moyon who is the director of Berklee´s Global Entertainment and Music Business academic program was presenting; “ten trends that will shape the future of music”, a talk that was followed by some panels with stars and heavyweights like Roger Sanchez and Helienne Lidvall whom shared their experiences regarding “the changing tides of music metadata” as well “the rise of streaming in mena”.
After a high voltage academic second day, FMF presented a Live Showcase with D’eve Archer, D.O.Gibson and Mike Casey at Sidecar Factory Club Barcelona, a night venue at Plaça Reial near the acclaimed Paseo de las Ramblas. Unfortunately, although I would of loved to be able to attend these performances, my exhaustion didn’t allow me. I broke my old habits going to bed much earlier; nevertheless, some days after I had the pleasure to interview Mike Casey, a Jazz artist and one of the main acts of that night.
Day 3 (Workshops and Latam Focus):
For those participants still capable of waking up after the intense second day, the last round of FTM, had in store for us diverse music making workshops and masterclasses from well-known academies such as Microfusa and Eumes. These workshops covered themes from synthesis with hardware and software, to sampling techniques as well as Ableton´s live performance tips; I particularly focused my attention on the Latam Music business talks that took place in a new improvised space near the entrance of the old brewary. Here, Zach Fuller, Sandra Calle and Dusko Justic presented their own keynotes, followed later by a panel where they also got involved. Although I had a lot of interest in this topic, I must recognize that it was not my thing as they mostly talked about the mainstream Latin music such as the acts of Rosalia, C Tangana and J Balbin, just to mention a few. On the contrary my love and heart is for the underground electronic and ambient music, which are very different cases.
Once the panel finished, I went for a beer while chatting with some new friends from the Berklee´s Valencia master; definitely the Jug of Damm beer (or Doble Caña as it is called in Spain) helped me accept that FTM 2019 was unfortunately coming to an end!
In conclusion, the Future Music Forum is far away from those overcrowded and massive events where movements and networking can turn into a quite stressful activity. It is totally great that almost every person registered already belongs to the music industry, and also I must say that most of the audience was at the same time a participant, so pretty interesting ideas came not only during their own presentations but also chatting with them in any of the different places of the fantastic Old Damm Beer Brewery.
If you are looking for a small but valuable and friendly boutique event where you can effectively interact with almost every participant, then FMF is you place. It definitely was mine!