In order to thrive, the music industry needs to take greater care of its members and, more importantly, music consumers. Those were the two dominant themes at the second day of Manchester's In The City (Oct.19) - the U.K.'s biggest music conference.

"As an industry I think we're pretty poor to allow our artists to survive the strictures of it," stated Marc Marot, CEO of SEG international and former head of Island Records U.K., in an opening panel entitled "Duty of Care."

Influenced by the death of Michael Jackson in June this year, the panel explored the issue of who was responsible for protecting an artist's health and whether there should be a stronger support network in place throughout the industry to help those "who fall through the cracks."

David Gilmour, a former music exec and director of U.K. support group Recover Now, mooted the formation of an industry-funded charity organisation providing health support for the U.K. music biz.

"Maybe something can be implemented where the industry starts to look after their own, as it were, and some monies were generated, whether it be through benefit shows... PRS and monies coming through, or going to major industries and saying: 'If you can support this organisation we can act as like as a one-stop shop where people can come and get help,'" he stated.

A subsequent panel entitled "Something From Nothing: Making It Happen Without A Budget" saw the fan-funded model come under the spotlight. Citing the commercial benefits to be wrought from fan patronage, Adam Sieff, Sellaband's London-based director of global A&R and head of U.K. operations, spoke of the need to offer consumers more choice and not restrict them purely to digital downloads.

"It should be about as much choice as possible," Sieff said - a statement that was echoed by moderator Nick Stewart, managing director of Nick Stewart and Associates, who optimistically compared the current music industry to "gold rush time in California" due to the wealth of music and new music opportunities that now exist.

Earlier in the day Simon Raymonde, founder and managing director of London-based indie Bella Union and former member of cult U.K. alt-rock band Cocteau Twins, revealed further details on how close the band had been to reforming two years ago, following an offer from its old American booking agent.

"We agreed to meet in Bristol where [singer] Elizabeth [Fraser] lives and we all went up there and kind of agreed a template of how we could all possibly work together," he said. "Weirdly enough, by the end of the conversation everybody said: 'Yeah, we'll do it."

Raymonde went onto to reveal that the reunion was abandoned following a disagreement between former partners Fraser and Robin Guthrie.

"It's a shame," he continued. "There was a 55-date tour booked [that included] headlining Coachella, going on after Coldplay, which would have been amusing. The money would have been incredible for sure. We probably would have killed each other by the end of it - or at least they would [Fraser and Guthrie]. But I think that's why bands do it [reform] these days. I would have walked away with £1.5 million [$2.5 million] tax-free."

Raymonde also revealed that he was close to abandoning the Bella Union label prior to his discovery of Seattle-based Fleet Foxes, who are signed to Bella Union in the U.K. and Europe.

"Finding that band really almost saved me not just musically but spiritually as well," he stated, adding that there are "lots of great avenues" for small indie labels like Bella Union in the today's fragmented market

"You've just got to do what you believe to be right," he went on to say. "The music business is in a bit of a mess right now, but I tend to just look at the positive side of things not the negatives. It actually feels almost like the punk days all over again."

The most popular panel of the day, however, was a closing discussion between Mike Smith, managing director of Columbia Records, and Columbia recording artist/producer Mark Ronson, chaired by British journalist and author John Harris.

Entertaining the packed crowd with anecdotes about DJing to Tom Cruise and his work on the forthcoming Duran Duran album, the artist discussed the accidental genesis of Amy Winehouse's Grammy-winning album "Back To Black", which Ronson produced.

"Amy came over and we both liked the same kind of music," he said, "so by copying all of our influences and getting it completely wrong it became something else."

Following on from the opening day's heated debates on the issue of copyright law (Billboard.biz, Oct.19), Mike Smith also spoke at length about the need to protect and preserve copyright restrictions if the music industry is to survive.

"The law is there it just needs to be properly policed and looked after," he stated. "Copyright has been a fundamental part of human society for the last 500 years. If you're a creative individual you've got to have copyright in your life and I'm very confident that as an industry, as a country and as a global economy we will preserve copyright and give it the nurture and the love that it deserves."

ITC concludes today (Oct.20) with keynote speeches from Joe Cohen, founder and CEO of secondary ticketing service Seatwave and Anthony Volodkin, founder of the Hypemachine blog.