Industry Insider: London Music Conference Founder Sam Speaight On Why London Needed A Dance Music Conference & Actually Doing Business At One

Learn how the conference came together and how it is focused on actually getting business done.
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Sam Speaight

Sam Speaight

Music and industry conferences seem to be a never ending cycle around the world. Though in dance music the two big ones are ADE and Winter Music Conference, there are still loads of others around the globe in Asia, Europe, North America and South America, in addition to non-dance music conferences like SXSW. One glaring omission in the schedule has been London, an important place in dance music history and hotbed for talent. London Music Conference will take place next weekend, October 11-13, at venues across the city and we were able to get the founder Sam Speaight to have a chat on why he decided to start the conference, what it brings to the music conference calendar and more. Head to their site to learn more about the program and see where and when it will take place across the city.

So what makes this different from other conferences in the UK, Europe and the world?

First of all: The fact that it is in London! Currently, there is no event in the heart of London that combines the elements of conference, networking, showcases and the amazing venue landscape that the Capital has to offer. London is a cultural hotbed and most international labels, artists, agencies, etc. have at least an office, if not even their HQ there. The aim is to create a community that is built around the annual event London Music Conference, but that in addition provides and facilitates knowledge transfer, exchange and sharing. This is the mid-term view though, we're very excited to see where the journey will take us in 5 years from now!

How do you prevent your conference from becoming just another business conference in the long years of business conferences?

Having attended dozens of music conferences around the world I've always been amazed at the lack of take-aways, new learnings and business opportunities that come directly from attending these events. LMC aims to be truly practical, and offer participants direct and tangible opportunities to improve what they do. Our panel events are intended to allow people to walk away with a clear understanding of how to expand their business or improve their music. Finally, we will build a community platform around the conference that allows delegates to continue networking and collaborating long after the event has finished. Again, this is intended to really empower people who participate with LMC on an on-going base.

For everyone who would like to bring in their ideas, we will have an interactive workshop led by LMC Conference Producer Kathi Longinus during London Music Conference:  LMC 2019 and beyond: Workshop to shape the future of London Music Conference and co-create the 2019 delegate program.  Friday, 12th October at 10.30am at Moustache Bar Dalston

Why did you choose to do the conference the weekend before ADE?

For a lot of people, mostly from overseas, it is quite a financial burden to travel to Europe with their team. Especially for a first-year event! By having London Music Conference in the week before ADE we're able to create synergies in regards to travel: This allows more international people to attend London Music Conference in week 1, before flying to Amsterdam Dance Event in week 2.

Additionally, October is the time the festival season ends and the plans are made for 2019. So it's the ideal time for an event like this!

How did you decide on the pairings for the various panels and their topics?

We spoke to senior members of the industry to understand what's required, in order to support us in putting together the panel. We work with a lot of great content partners who brought in their ideas and reached out to panelists. The support has been overwhelming and we're very, very happy with the final program.

What panels are you personally really looking forward to?

The Mad Professor dub-mixing masterclass, because I've always wanted to know the secrets of making classic, Jamaican dub music! Virtual Reality Jam, a completely new live entertainment platform for virtual reality music content, which I will present on Thursday.

A lot of dance music conferences have evolved where the parties have become the primary focus for a lot of attendees and then the business becomes secondary. How will you prevent that from happening?

One aspect we would like to approach slightly differently is that instead of regular parties we want to work more with label showcases. A lot of times you go to the parties to have some drinks, meet the people you know and have a good time. But nobody is actually listening to the music, the talents on stage, the crop of new talent that is presented! By keeping the discovery of uprising artists, new releases and underground labels as a key element in the program we aim to keep the business aspect in the evening events - without reducing the fun and enjoyment of a good night out!

How will Brexit be covered?

Brexit is a highly divisive and political topic that creates animosity between the leave and remain camps. While we considered addressing this via a panel in the early stages of planning we finally decided that the negative aspects of focussing on hot-button political topics outweighed its value as a content asset for us. How will Brexit affect the industry? I'm not sure anyone can make an accurate statement about this in light of the fact that the UK is about to crush out of the Union without a deal. LMC is about communion, collaboration and breaking down boundaries between fans, artists and nations. 

Can you give more detail on the “equality in dance music” panel? Where will it focus?

Equality in dance music will address the positive changes that have developed over the past 5 years yielding more equality and fair opportunity to women and young talent (Under 21). The panel is moderated by DESNA (Risky Business, US), who has hands-on experience with the challenges that young artists but also females in the industry are facing. The panel will address current issues at hand that could be dealt with better, giving solution-oriented questions as to how we can continue to help end certain false perceptions in both areas.

Why did you decide to create this conference? When did the idea first come about?

I always wondered why London didn't have an electronic music event of its own. As the birthplace for so many of the greatest artists and labels in electronic music, it seemed crazy that the city didn't have an event that allowed artists and members of the industry to come together and collaborate. Much of my career has been spent as a booking agent for overseas artists, and watching them overcome the difficulties associated with cracking the UK market really inspired me to develop an event that allowed international artists to access the UK and conversely gave UK businesses greater opportunities overseas.

If you weren’t doing this, what else would you be doing?

I'd be developing new technology for the music and entertainment industries that empowers artists and fans to interact in new and exciting ways. One really exciting project that we're working on is Virtual Reality Jam. It's a live performance platform that enables artists to perform live and in real-time inside a virtual reality space and to share those experiences with millions of fans. I can't say much more about this now, as we're about to launch it for the very first time at London Music Conference! 

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