Organizers of the U.K.'s 18th annual In The City (ITC) claim attendance at the conference held steady this year, while declining to reveal official figures.

They did state that the three-day conference and live music showcase (Oct. 18-20), which is held annually in Manchester, attracted approximately the same number of delegates as last year's event.

"I'm really happy," ITC GM Jon-Paul Waddington tells Billboard.biz. "We've held our own in terms of numbers - it's been about the same as last year, which I'm really pleased with given the current economic climate. I've also enjoyed the vibe this year. I think we've had an interesting balance between traditional music industry type debates and new subjects and events. We're trying to get away from some of those debates that slowed up the industry some times - looking inward and fighting and arguing about things that probably, to be honest, should have been resolved a long time ago."

This year's In The City featured keynote speeches from Mike Smith, managing director of Columbia Records; Columbia recording artist/producer Mark Ronson; Bella Union label boss Simon Raymonde; and a controversial opening address from Rick Falkvinge, founder and chairman of the Swedish political organization the Pirate Party, which provoked a hostile reaction from music execs (Billboard.biz, Oct. 19). Alongside the conference, over 150 bands played in 40 venues throughout the city. Gig attendance was also up on previous years, say organizers - boosted by sale of three-day passes to the general public priced at £20.00 ($32). Final sales figures were not available.

The third and final day (Oct. 20) concluded with keynote speeches from Joe Cohen, founder and CEO of secondary ticketing service Seatwave, and Anthony Volodkin, founder of the Hypemachine blog.

Addressing delegates during a panel entitled "Tribes, Fans and Followers," Cohen offered some advice on how music companies and new start-ups could best utilize the digital sphere.

"We do have all the tools and systems now that you can utilize and do whatever you want to do," he stated. "It's just about taking that step back and thinking about what's available to me? How do I harness the power of people who are really passionate about this and how do I let them create something?"

Earlier in the day, the panel "Pub-label-ublishing: Defining The Lines of the Future" addressed some of the challenges facing the publishing industry.

"Common with some of the other areas in the business, we need to monetize the exchange of MP3s and P2P," said Blair McDonald, head of publishing at Nettwerk.

He continued, "We need to find a new model of how people pay for music. The publishing business is far better placed than the record business to adopt a cloud-based technology - a subscription model. It's 2009. We have the digital technology to, if we want to, mark every song that's downloaded and pay the rights holders and artists and songwriter and publisher and label for every single transaction. We have to find a way to get towards that so that we can keep the music business on its feet."

The emerging markets of India and Africa were also discussed at length throughout the closing day.

Speaking in the panel "This Is India," Anjula Acharia-Bath, chairman and president of Desihits, said that India was set to experience "a real shift" in the way that music is consumed throughout the country with the launch of the Nokia Comes With Music service. According to Acharia-Bath, India is the second largest mobile market in the world with penetration of 400 million handsets.

"If you look at the demographic of consumers of mobile phone users, which will cut young, they're now going to have access to a huge catalog of Western music and I think that creates a global shift and a shift in India about consumption of music," she stated, while acknowledging the current lack of infrastructure throughout the country's music industry.

"The fact that all these young kids have now got access to Western music will really effect touring internationally," she continued, citing the opportunities for live sponsorship and branding as attractive to alcohol brands who cannot otherwise advertise in India.

"We're right at the birth of something that can happen and be meaningful to Indian artists exporting themselves to the West, and Western artists having potentially a money earning effect in a market which is only going one way - up," added Stephen Budd, director of Holy Cow! festival - a U.K. initiative which will take a number of British and international alternative bands to play a dual-site festival in India next January.

The emerging market of Africa was also discussed during a panel entitled "This Is Africa" although panellists were keen to stress that a degree of caution needed to be maintained.

"In Africa we need to be very careful about corporations like MTV knowing that they can get some good meat out of Africa because this is a continent just to make money," said DJ Edu, a presenter on digital radio station BBC 1 Xtra. "It's very easy for corporations to come in and eat all over again - it's just a money making scheme. So I think the future for Africa music is very 50/50. It all depends on education."

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