The Music Industry panel took place on Friday at Summer in the City 2016. It featured creators including Bethan Leadley and Bry. It was chaired by Mark Walker of Kilimanjaro.
The panel discussed the pros and cons of the platform, the importance of a team of “professionals”, and making the move off of YouTube. It featured a mixture of musicians who utilise YouTube, and industry executives.
“There is good and bad,” expressed Bethan Leadley when asked about her experience as a musician on YouTube. “I think it sort of ruins your credibility because people think. ‘Oh, she’s just one of those YouTube people who plays ukulele’. Still, I think those people are actually just jealous because you have a platform already and a strong relationship with your audience.”
Jumping off that point, Bry explained that using YouTube gives him the ability to travel the world and play shows for audiences he may not have without the site, which is undoubtedly a positive. Still, similar to Bethan’s thoughts, he finds it challenging to overcome the stigma of YouTube. “I played festivals last year and all the other acts on the bill had things like ‘band’ or ‘singer/songwriter’, and I had ‘YouTube Star’, which makes me cringe,” he said. “All the reviews were sort of like, ‘If you’re under 25, you won’t have a clue who this guy is’, which hurts, because my parents know who I am.”
Many of the industry officials who work on the business side mirrored these sentiments. Nick Matthews, who works as a booking agent with clients like Shawn Mendes, explained that he faced similar struggles with Shawn at the start of his career. It wasn’t until Shawn made the move into more mainstream media such as radio appearances and chat shows that he was able to lose the title of “Vine star” or “YouTube celebrity” and just be a musician.
From there, a discussion was sparked about the importance of “professionals” in a YouTuber’s career. There is a common misconception around YouTubers that they feel that they can do everything on their own, and that they don’t need the old model of agents and managers to help succeed. Across the panel that myth was debunked, with each person explaining how working together has aided their career.
“I’ve done six tours in Australia in the past two years,” explained Bry, who now has an agent and a manager, although no label. “It started off really great but has been doing down hill since then because no one cares anymore. If I had worked with someone they could have told me that would happen.”
The conversation then came to panellist Josh Edwards, who manages Dodie Clark, about Dodie’s career and how he helps her out (Josh got a rousing cheer from Dodie and her posse of viewers in the audience). “Dodie’s [US] tour happened pretty organically but there is something to say about other people helping out,” he said. “You shouldn’t go on tour just for the sake of it, that doesn’t make any sense. You need a plot with it, like a release of something. For Dodie, it was more of a tester to see if a) there is an audience there, and b) if there is, can she go back and do that? Clearly, the answer is yes as Dodie has just announced another East Coast US tour.”
As the panel began to wrap up, it was clear the consensus was that although YouTube gives musicians a new way to grow, they still need the industry and the industry needs them.
Photos by Rachel Kiki.
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