SO I just spent this morning at a press conference to announce this year’s Music Matters (MM), which is slated to happen from May 22 to 26.
And yes, the organisers have promised that this year’s conference will be bigger and better than last year’s. To wit, they’re premiering the inaugural Gaming Matters Workshop, to talk about the gamification of various industries (for the music industry it’s stuff like Guitar Hero and Rock Band).
They’ve also got an interesting list of speakers for MM and the affiliate Digital Matters (DM) conference that will happen concurrently. Two names immediately caught my eye (mostly because they were at the top of the sheet): Troy Carter, Lady Gaga’s manager, who will talk about his experience managing the top pop artiste of this past decade; and Bob Ezrin, who’s produced some of the most seminal albums in the history of music, such as Pink Floyd’s The Wall and A Momentary Lapse Of Reason, Kiss’ Destroyer, and pretty much all the cool stuff by Alice Cooper in the 1970s, including School’s Out, Billion Dollar Babies and Welcome To My Nightmare.
Another speaker is Bob Lefsetz, the sometimes vitriolic, but always entertaining, writer. His site, The Lefsetz Letter, is one of the better music reads online. (Word is that he apparently was fined for being too expletive during his speech one time!) So you know it’ll be interesting to hear what he has to say.
For DM, Chris Maxcy, YouTube’s Head of Music, Games and Platforms; Tod Machover, Professor of Music & Media, and David Ulmer, managing director of SingTel’s New Growth Platforms are three that I’d want to catch.
Most of all, I’d like to catch Music Matters Live, the concert showcase. Mostly, because I didn’t manage to catch it last year, seeing I was away and all. Like last year, it’s spread over three days, and they say that it will be even better than last year’s showcase. Apparently, they going to field 50 acts from all over the world this year, with Singapore having more representation than any other country. Some of the names already confirmed include Korea’s Drunken Tiger, Midnight Youth (from New Zealand), Aftermiles (Indonesia) and Singapore’s own The Auditory Effect. Hopefully, they will be playing their new material that they’ve been recording over the past few months!
Of course, there was some negative feedback over last year’s MM, mostly to the effect of: What did MM actually do for the local music scene? Said Jasper Donat, CEO of Branded Ltd and President of MM and DM, said that the conference provided a platform for the local industry and musicians to network and communicate with potential partners from all over the world and to learn from them.
“There were more Singapore bands performing than from any other country, the show was produced by a Singapore company. Our company is only 10 people, to make this work, you need more than that - hundreds – and these were all from Singapore. So I get a little annoyed when people say we didn’t do anything for Singapore.”
When pressed about whether MM could have done a better follow-up to assist Singapore bands, Donat said: “I can’t make someone successful. (The bands themselves) have to do the follow-up. Is that my role or their role? We’ve already provided the platform, beyond that, I’m not sure there’s much else we can do, really. I mean, I don’t want to spoonfeed the bands, and I don’t think they want that. We’ve given them a leg up … we can’t give them a “how to make it in the industry”… but, there will be new initiatives this year. I can’t talk about it now, but you’ll hear about it in the weeks to come.”
Does that make any sense? I have to admit that there is some truth in that. It’s like government grants. It’s just the seed. Whether the seed grows or not, depends on the bands and their business managers to make it grow and flower and become a veritable tree that makes up the forest that is the local music scene. Or should I say industry?
By the way, the press conference was held at the Lion’s Den at the Hard Rock Cafe. I have to admit that I have a but of a soft spot for that place, because that’s where I got to have a tete-a-tete with Chris Isaak, Suede, Firehouse, Lisa Loeb and Steve Vai – who signed my guitar! (Okay, it was a tiny toy miniature guitar and not an actual guitar.)
I also remember gigging at HRC, as did many other local bands, such as Stoned Revivals, Humpback Oak, Sideshow Judy and Concave Scream (and yes, I have pictures to prove it). Hmm, maybe one day local bands playing original music and once again tread there.