In between his successful day job programming live music at The Bedford Arms in south London (which in itself has an enviable track record in finding new stars) Tony Moore programmes the Brits at Midem acoustic showcase.
‘Part of my push is to create more opportunities at international conferences around the world. We have a great alumni of songwriters that have come through The Bedford – KT Tunstall, Paolo Nutini, James Morrison – my plan is to leverage that reputation by taking The Bedford concept around the world to give a leg up to new British acts. ‘
As Moore himself points out, showcasing isn’t just for unsigned acts. ‘Everybody gets something different out of it. Even if an act doesn’t land some big licensing deal, they still get great profile being written about in the trade publications, which helps to give a certain sense of gravitas to an artist’s career.
‘It’s harder these days to get any kind of attention as an emerging artist, so it’s very important that we have these showcase events.’
Of course, the daddy of all International showcasing opportunities is SXSW in Austin Texas, with its 11,000 industry delegates and its 1300 acts from around the world who play in more than sixty venues.
M spoke to Crispin Parry, CEO and Creative Director of international showcase producers, British Underground. As a showcase producer, British Underground looks for very specific acts they want to work with. At this year’s SXSW, they produced a night of English folk music headlined by The Unthanks.
‘To succeed at SxSW you need a lot of talent, luck, effort and support,’ says Parry. ‘If you’ve got all that then apply at the end of the summer via the SXSW website. They have a very rigorous artist selection system and acts are usually notified about successful applications in December.
‘Acts need to be at a certain level in the food chain before they even think about international showcasing. Hundreds of UK acts apply to SXSW every year – you will need to have built up a good buzz and reputation in the UK and be able to evidence that from media and industry support. SXSW’s reputation is built around showcasing the greatest new music in the world, so be honest with yourself and make sure your act can match up to the best before applying. ‘
Crispin’s top tip: ‘Be prepared. Start working on your application six months beforehand. You’ll need US work visas and be able to demonstrate financial support as well as a thorough plan of action. If you’re lucky enough to get selected to play, you’ll be allocated an official show - but book in additional gigs during the festival.’ Visit sxsw.com and britishmusic.biz
Funding for international showcases
The PRS for Music Foundation run a funding programme which allows emerging acts to attend international showcases. The Foundation’s British Music Abroad (BMA) programme gives grants towards the costs of travel and accommodation. Naturally, it’s one of the Foundation’s most popular funding programmes with £390,000 being awarded to more than 155 acts since its inception in 2006.
For 2010, PRSF has invested more in BMA with funding partners UK Trade & Investment, Wales Arts Int’l, British Underground and Arts Council England.
For full details of the scheme and a list of funded showcases, visit: prsformusicfoundation.com/bma