AVA CONFERENCE 2023
With a renowned list of electronic music experts including the likes of Hot Chip, Sherelle, Jaguar, and Tony Andrews, the programme was packed with valuable information to digest. Discussions covered everything from innovative hacks that bring the best out of your sound system to safeguarding diversity within events and their lineups, not to mention a wealth of peer to peer interaction and hands-on activities including cassette-making workshops, VR experiences and plenty of goodies such as books, tech accessories and exclusive t-shirts.
We took it all in (or as much as we possibility could without being in numerous locations at once) and came up with 5 key music takeouts for brands and promoters:
Venues and brands have a responsibility to be allies - it’s not on minorities to create platforms for change.
It’s 2023. Putting a single black, POC or LGBTQ act on the line up for a club night simply isn’t good enough. Diversity of the lineup isn’t just important for keeping the sounds eclectic; the fans of acts from marginalised backgrounds need to be assured that they are attending a safe space, free from worry about being subjected to ignorance or hatred. There’s no excuse for having single-demographic lineups anymore; if inspiration is needed, head over to @blackartistdatabase. - Niks
If you can’t pay everyone fairly, don’t throw the event.
Some brands and promoters seem to be struggling to see a distinction between the size of an artist’s following and the value they bring to a night. There is a pattern emerging of major headliners getting paid huge sums for the name value they provide to a flyer, whilst equally talented support acts bringing their a-game to entertain crowds earlier in the night are left with little or no compensation, with the excuse that they are less established and should be grateful for the exposure. The passion, artistic prowess and cultural capital that emerging artists bring to the night as a whole do wonders in making it feel diverse, eclectic and memorable as a once-only live experience. When partnering with emerging talent, put their follower count to the side for a moment. What are they contributing to your event or activation, and what initially drew you to them? What kind of potential do they have, and what makes them irreplaceable? Pay them accordingly. “No credit, just cold, hard cash.” - Sherelle
Music is at its best when enjoyed together.
In the era of headphones, algorithms and individual playlists, music has become a personal and siloed experience. While personalisation gives us all the autonomy to enjoy music in exactly the way we want to, the joy it brings by uniting people under a social context is unparalleled. Despite an uptick in digital and hybrid music-based events since the pandemic, the power of music as a social connector should not be forgotten. In Tony’s closing words, “there is nothing better than dancing together to great music”. - Tony Andrews, Function One Sound System
When collaborating, individual preference must often be set aside to allow the collective vision to flourish.
When working as part of a group of creatives, each individual often has their own creative vision; but these aren’t always aligned. In such cases, getting the best out of each party can be a challenge, and a time consuming one at that. It is important to understand the strengths of each member, and get a sense of where best they can contribute. Alexis was incredibly open about his experience as part of Hot Chip, and the necessity of putting his ego to the side in order to allow his peers to do what they did best, enabling the creation of something beyond his own preconceptions to materialise. - Alexis Taylor & Al Doyle, Hot Chip
Assure people that they are welcome to celebrate your community with you, as long as they are your allies, of course.
While it’s important to ensure that you use the correct terminology when promoting an event for a marginalised group, it’s equally important to recognise that using overly specific language can sometimes make people outside of your community feel excluded. Unless you are creating a space exclusively for your community, assuring people that they are welcome to celebrate your community with you is a necessary part of your comms, as long as they are aligned with your shared values and principles, of course. - Nooriyah
“There is nothing better than dancing together to great music.” Tony Andrews, Function One Sound System