Brighton Music Conference: the lowdown | Features | MN2S

The return of the Brighton Music Conference this June represents more good news for the UK dance music industry, with the professional get-together returning after its successful inaugural year. With speakers from the likes of Native Instruments, Radio 1 / 1Xtra and Mobilee Records confirmed so far, it’s shaping up to be a very interesting couple of days in one of the country’s best-loved cities. We caught up with organiser and all-round electronic music legend John ‘00’ Fleming to find out more about this burgeoning event.


Why did you start the BMC in the first place?

For years I’ve always done tutorials, how-to’s, educational things, columns, blogs and all sorts of stuff in magazines. I kind of got known for that, so every time I was out on the road people would always ask me “how do I do this?”, and the artists on my label would too. It just occured to me that there seemed to be a disconnect between my generation and today’s generation, and the disconnect is that they’re not given the tools and knowledge that we had when there was more money in the music industry. When the labels used to sell a lot of physical product there was a lot of income coming in – so there was a lot of staff.



You used to have an A&R who used to take hold of the artist and guide them through the process of joining the music industry – teaching them the ropes of how the PRS works and all angles of it. But now in this era of torrent sites and no sales, there’s digital labels starting up all the time – but they haven’t got the professional team behind them. They’re not given the hands-on tools or education. I was getting frustrated having to give everyone my individual time, and so I thought – let’s just do something major in the UK.


Why Brighton?

I think Brighton lends itself to being the perfect place for this to happen. It’s a cosmopolitan city and looking ahead as it’s going to grow, everything’s close to where the actual conference is. Within 2 – 5 minutes walking distance, you’ve got a lot of the venues that we use, you’ve got a lot of the clubs, you’ve got a lot of the bars for networking… so it really lends itself to happening here. London’s such a vast city – we just didn’t look at it. It’s just too big and too expensive.


With the emergence of LEAF and LEME in London in recent years too – as well as the formation of the Association For Electronic Music (AFEM), does it feel like the UK electronic music industry is finally getting its professional act together?

It is time for the industry to get professional again. I really felt over the last year that there’s been a big change in the industry. We all saw that electronic music exploded, but there wasn’t the professional infrastructure beneath it. People need to get professional in order for us to get back to those heydays we had in the nineties. We can’t hide the fact that clubland isn’t in a really healthy place at the moment, and a lot of us can identify why. All these different seminars and shows and conferences and educational things will all help the growth.



What are the logistical challenges of putting on a conference?

The big logistical challenge is money. We have to fund it! It’s a risk. I’ve got a very successful career, and I could just carry on doing this – but I was lucky that the forefathers gave me a very fruitful career and I just feel it’s within me to do this for the next generation. It’s one, getting people to attend, two, getting people to know about it, three getting people to really understand what it’s all about.


How will this year’s conference evolve from the inaugural year?

The first year was a challenge, because you’re trying to get people to get involved in what is basically just an idea. It didn’t exist. That was a real hard job – trying to convince all my friends in the industry and say, “look, this doesn’t exist yet – but this is what we want to do.” Now we’ve done year one, it’s the other way round; we’ve got people non-stop, keen to get involved. They either came to it or they heard about it, and now we’re spoilt for choice who to have involved, which is brilliant. So this year is looking fantastic.



Do you think the authorities are starting to realise the value of the electronic music industry too? 

They are listening to us. We’re having lots of conversations with local councils, and they do get it. They do understand.


What do you feel the big challenges facing the industry currently are?

I think the main one is income for musicians. We’re seeing lots of colleges and music courses popping up around the country all the time, but they’re not actually giving their students tools to learn what to do when they leave. My son’s one great example. I listen to him and his friends that he went to college with, and most of them just haven’t pursued music, because they don’t know what to do. Everyone has this fantasy in their head that they’re going to leave college and make one track, earn lots of money from it, and they’ll be set in their music career. And the reality is the complete opposite. So the biggest problem is how to make income from music, and we’re going to be having a big debate about that.



What’s in store for this year?

We’re trying to give the tools, real-world stories and advice and hands-on help on simple things like how to get gigs. It sounds like such an easy question, but from the research that we’ve done, people just don’t know how to do it. So we’re giving stories from established DJs of how they did it. There were lots of penny-drop moments when we did it last year. You get these romantic stories of these guys like Skrillex suddenly just popping up from nowhere and they’re an international touring DJ – and they’re all trying to follow that one dream. But they are just romantic stories that come up every two or three years.



Many people don’t understand the avenues where you can get income from music. It is the most common thing. People are just so focused on making music, they’re not looking at where the income is going to come from. And they get a hard reality check when they hit the real world and think, actually you earn very little from music sales.


What are your tips for getting the most out of BMC – or any industry conference?

I think to get the most out of a conference like BMC, you’ve got to come with the knowledge of what you want to do with the art or the craft that you’ve got.


MN2S represents DJ Pierre and 368 other DJs. View artist bio

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