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Market Research – Identifying The Need
In March 2010 the Bristol Music Foundation (BMF) launched, ‘Unlocking Potential’ a strategy that focuses on music development in the South West of England.
It followed a period of work during which time the BMF established partnerships in the UK and overseas to provide opportunities for musicians and music businesses in the South West. As part of this initiative, a survey was carried out of 160 music businesses in the South West – ‘Music to Market’. The survey asked questions about activity in the region, trading inside and outside the region, turnover and training.
All respondents agreed that new business and making new contacts was important to them. The overwhelming majority agreed that a music development agency in the South West could provide a range of valuable services, including networking opportunities, events, skills development and training, resources, and online promotional and retail facilities. 90% of respondents said that they would like to see a regional music website facility. The survey also revealed that over 70% of all respondents receive no public sector funding of any kind, and 80% do not believe that government agencies and funders have helped develop the music industry in the region.
Problems and unmet needs faced by independent musicians in Devon
Another survey MIDI staff carried out with 62 bands in Devon showed us that the most common problems currently faced by local independent musicians are:
- Musicians struggle to cut through the noise and develop a following – competition for attention is very fierce;
- There is a shortage of venues (particularly in smaller towns) for original, independent live music;
- Many independent musicians don’t know how to maximise earning potential from their music (especially in an age when more and more people expect “free” music);
- Many independent musicians don’t know how to go about building a team around them;
- Many independent musicians experience overwhelm and feel they don’t have enough time to work on the business and promotion side of things themselves, as they are so busy writing, rehearsing, performing and recording;
- Many independent musicians have trouble staying motivated and positive about their progress;
- Many independent musicians are frustrated that they seem unable to progress due to a lack of funding for equipment; rehearsal space; studio recording; marketing and promotion; and travel.
- Many independent musicians feel that they need to move away from Devon in order to succeed, because of a lack of joined-up infrastructure and genuine networking opportunities in the county.
MIDI aims to address these needs through all the work we undertake. Many of the problems mentioned above are common to independent musicians all over the western world, but there are also a number of difficulties that arise specifically because of Devon’s geographical location.
MIDI has identified an ambitious range of aims and objectives which we hope to achieve through establishing a county-wide network for musicians and music industry professionals, as well as through delivery of various projects and events. We also intend to raise funds to provide resources for local musicians, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds.
Musician Focused Aims
• To raise the profile of independent musicians based in the county of Devon.
• To provide high-quality performance and career development opportunities for music practitioners of all ages where none currently exists.
• To encourage the growth of audiences in Devon for the benefit of music practitioners in the county.
• To provide a supportive infrastructure, through which music practitioners can gain the tools to build audiences.
• To offer an accessible network for music practitioners to connect and share ideas, experiences and best practice.
• To offer improved networking opportunities for independent musicians.
• To provide pathways and sustainable links to the wider commercial music industry.
• To provide advice, education, guidance and training to musicians.
• To support a network of musicians and music practitioners across the county of Devon.
Business Focused Aims
• To improve the sustainability of small music businesses and organisations in Devon.
• To provide members with a joined-up approach to projects across the county to avoid duplication or repetition.
• To provide advice, education, guidance and training to small music businesses.
Sector Focused Aims
• To encourage the establishment of an inter-connected music industry and the retention of talent in the county of Devon, and across the region.
• To encourage and promote diversity in music and the arts.
• To ensure the development and maintenance of national and international industry links and direct involvement in local, regional and national policy, providing a reliable point of access into and out of the county.
• To attract inward investment for independent music in the county.
• To provide a platform for collaborative working in music across the south west.
• To provide a focus for the strategic development of the sector in the county.
• To strengthen communication and develop new partnerships in the sector.
• To provide a platform for joined-up activity and dynamic, groundbreaking projects that will have an impact regionally, nationally and internationally.
• To support a sustainable and strategic link between the industry and education.
• To promote the music industry of the county nationally and internationally.
• To demonstrate the ongoing economic, social and cultural benefit of the industry.
• To create a trust for MIDI to provide funding linked to national objectives.
• To provide collaborative support to regional music projects in development.
• To provide a single, united and independent voice to support lobbying for greater investment into the music industry in the county.
• To comment and offer feedback on regional and national agendas, papers and strategies.
• To link the music industry in the county with regional, national and international initiatives and organisations.
• To disseminate relevant information to the sector at all time.
• To support new music, talent, and innovation that will make a significant contribution to the output and profile of music and the arts in the region.
• To encourage artistic excellence for grassroots music in the county.
Wider Community Aims
• to enrich the experience of audiences so that they are more likely to engage regularly with new and independent live music.
• to provide interactive opportunities for audiences to get involved in music-making.
To achieve our aims and objectives, we intend to develop a number of projects and events over the coming months and years. We welcome ideas from local musicians, and are very keen to involve the wider musical community in all we do. Some of the plans we currently have on the drawing board include:
- Education – including music business coaching and mentoring programmes, music industry events, and music-making workshops;
- Organisation and promotion of unique events in unusual locations – particularly in smaller towns;
- Provision of affordable contracted, freelance admin and marketing staff (Virtual Assistants) for bands/artists at a subsidised rate;
- Music-making projects for young people that also offer live performance and mentoring opportunities;
- Creation of a music trust fund to support and develop emerging talent;
- Music industry networking events to increase opportunities for musicians;
- An online hub for the county’s music industry, to foster and encourage joined-up / partnership working opportunities;
- An annual convention for music practitioners in Devon to meet and discuss current topics and key issues, and hear from leading figures from the regional, national and international music industry and education sectors;
- A representative voice for the music industry in Devon where none currently exists.