One of the reasons why the meeting at Groningen proved important in terms of the overall purposes of the project is that here, the relationship between music and new/interactive media gained more emphasis than during our previous Leonardo meetings. This is in part thanks our hosts Ard Boer and Eva van Netten and New Music Labs – a very exciting, dynamic enterprise developing interactive digital solutions for a variety of music projects, located in a pleasant office on Brugstraat whose interior attests to creativity and subcultural credibility (see photos). (As an aside: walking in Groningen, I was struck by the multiplicity of small galleries, busy workshops, (sub)cultural venues and stores, indicative of the amount of creative activity in the city.)
Eurosonic Noorderslag (as is mentioned in Ann Branch’s talk) also devoted a lot of time and space to the digital shift, framing it more in terms of opportunities and creative solutions than challenges. We heard presentations about the new, and already hugely popular French on-demand music streaming service, Deezer (also available in Hungary, as opposed to, for instance, Spotify, along with 160 countries worldwide – but not yet in the US). Another exciting service that I had not heard about previously is 22tracks – which is also streaming site, but based on selected DJs curating 22 songs according to 22 different genres, in different locations, such as London, Paris, Amsterdam and Brussels. The idea is that individual curation can act as a guide amongst the vast amount of music online. Furthermore, the individual tastes of the DJs are also supposed to represent the given city, the local character, as well as a particular genre.
Ard also introduced his own app, Giglocker:
Here is Ard explaining augmented reality during the interrogation phase:
And demonstrating how it works:
The Company award was won by the equally fascinating Vyclone – a social video platform that enables members of an audience (or any people gathered within the same space) to upload their iPhone/iPad video footage, which material will then be edited together automatically and the end result published on the website. The platform is based on the idea of Joe Sumner (you can read about it here), and has already been used by such artists as Madonna, Ed Sheeran, Mumford and Sons and Alice Cooper. It appears to be a wonderful way of conjoining fans and artists within the creative process, illustrating the overall trend of consumers becoming active producers through via interactive online media. It also makes use of a vast amount of fan material that exists out there anyway, and would otherwise remain marginal. Lastly, there are great possibilities in applying the editing algorithm within a variety of fields.
The online platform of Eurosonic Noorderslag itself provided a good example of interacivity, with the possibility of personalising the programme. Also, our wristbands containted a chip that was scanned during the evening gigs when we entered and left a venue. Based on this information, the following morning we received a personalised email notification containing the list of gigs we had attended, which was indeed really handy (the idea is thus similar to Giglocker). Moreover, you were also able to scan your wristband at panels in order to get additional materials emailed to you (slides, links), where it was available.
Our visit to Groningen was interesting and informative in so many different aspects that rather than providing a single summarising account, I am opting for creating a number of posts that deal with different themes. Also, many important themes are covered in Matt Grimes’ account, so I will not repeat those points.
At the Eurosonic Noorderslag conference, I listened to Ann Branch (Head of Unit, Culture Programme and Actions, European Commission) explain the importance of the EU’s new Culture Programme for the music industries (EU Funding for the Cultural and Creative Sectors, 10 January 2013 15:00). The second half of the panel consisted of Sylvain Pasqua (Policy Officer, Culture Programme and Actions, European Commission) talking about how EU Cohesion Policy Fundscan be used for strategic cultural investment.
My summary of Ann Branch’s talk is attached – and here you find some related links:
Creative Europe http://ec.europa.eu/culture/creative-europe/
Ann Branch explaining Creative Europe http://ec.europa.eu/culture/creative-europe/video-interviews_en.htm
European Music Council http://www.emc-imc.org/
EMC Statement on the EU Commission’s Creative Europe programme proposal http://www.emc-imc.org/fileadmin/user_upload/Cultural_Policy/creative_europe/EMC_statement_Creative_Europe.pdf
European Music Office http://www.emo.org/
Report commissioned by EMO and Eurosonic Noorderslag (Music Crossing Borders. Monitoring the cross-border circulation of European repertoire within the European Union)http://dl.dropbox.com/u/59105500/new%20report.pdf
European Audiovisual Observatory http://www.obs.coe.int/
European Talent Exchange Program (ETEP) http://www.etep.nl/en/
International Association of Music Information Centres http://www.iamic.net/
This is the talk that Jan Pier, from the Academie voor Popcultuur gave to a meting of the project partners on 13 January 2013 in Gronigen.[wpvideo 2teStGuC]
My fellow BCU colleague, Matt Grimes who is the Degree Leader for our Music Industries BA programme, accompanied me on the mobility to Groningen. We were there to hold a partner meeting which co-incided with one of Europe’s largest music industry event and festival Eurosonic Noorderslag. This is Matt’s impression of both the event and what we discovered from the partner meeting.
Eurosonic Nooderslag 2013.
The Eurosonic Nooderslag Music Festival takes place in the northeastern town of Groningen in The Netherlands in the second week of January. The festival is Europe’s main conference and showcase festival for European music which was set up to create an international platform for the European music industry and to promote the European repertoire. The festival is a combination of a music industry based conference during the daytime, consisting of various talks, demonstrations and chaired panels from music industry and related experts/businesses, and musical events showcasing as many as 250 musical acts from a variety of musical genres and European countries, in numerous venues around Groningen. During my time there I saw some really good music in some really varied venues from purpose built concert halls, outdoor stages to even a small independent art gallery (of which I will return to later).
My overall impression of the festival was that it was very industry focused (which sounds obvious considering the nature of the event), by that I mean it was a place for music based businesses and performers to meet and network. There were some really interesting panels discussing recent developments in the industry from such people as Will Page (Spotify) and Jeff Price (AAIM). There was a daily workshop on an education exchange programme called Musication which unfortunately we couldn’t attend as it was invite only.
This workshop looked at building a network between 30 professionals in charge of educative activities in modern music where they would develop a teaching toolkit and exchange programme. This seemed focussed on the musicological and composition performance aspect of music and was probably the only panel that had a direct interface with education. Many of the other panels and presentations were quite tech-based or very music industry/business focussed, none the less there was some interesting insights into the developments within the industry regarding, streaming, ticketing, touring, festivals and streaming live, health and safety. There were also many panels that were Dutch speaking only which due to my poor knowledge of Dutch were out of my remit. What I did find out was that a lot of students from many colleges and the University in Groningen play an active part in the festival by getting placements working with professional stage managers/directors/techies on the various stages/venues, working as part of the production office team, marketing and promotions team etc etc thereby giving them real industry experience.
What I found fascinating and impressive was that a city the size of Groningen, with a population of around 190,000; could successfully accommodate the festival. It seemed apparent that there was a lot of local support from the municipal council and other public bodies in ensuring that the city retained this festival and made it integral to its economic and strategic planning. The local population were seemingly very accommodating and no doubt could appreciate what it does/might do for the local economy. Here was a really good example of commercial enterprises and public authorities working symbiotically for mutual benefit.
In conversations with Jez Collins we both considered why a city like Birmingham, with a population 10 times that of Groningen has not managed to attract a major international music industry conference/festival like Eurosonic to take place in the city centre, rather than way out of town at the NEC. Organisations like Capsule have successfully put on similar small scale festivals such as Supersonic, which has gained a phenomenal international reputation, but I am left wondering how much Birmingham City Council (BCC) have been behind them, supporting their events to the point where it becomes part of BCC’s economic and strategic planning policy to put Birmingham on the international musical map. Only BCC can answer that but in my 8 years of working in Birmingham I have been to many meetings to discuss such issues and try to create a music policy for Birmingham and haven’t seen it happen yet. Perhaps BCC need to send a representative next year to get a flavour of Eurosonic as these types of events are really useful in supporting and indeed developing cities as sites for music, music heritage, music industries and music education.
One of the most interesting meetings I had was with the IMMHIVEproject partners where I caught up with more inside knowledge of the project and current progress as it reaches the climax of its final year. One of the attendees was Jan Peer who is the Course Director for the undergraduate International Pop Culture bachelor degree at Hanze Minerva Art Academy, located in Leeuwarden.
Jez will be posting up the video of Jan’s discussion with the project group up on this blog however here is my summary of what interested me about his course. The course has been running for 10 years and is focussed around the idea that popular culture is reflected in many disciplines and many pop culture artefacts /products are a combination of many art/media/cultural forms. With this in mind the course is about students developing a new skill set that combines music with art and culture. It is a 4 year Bachelor of Arts degree programme that combines 2 degrees-a Bachelor of Music and Bachelor of Design. The course has approximately 240 students (60 per year group) so compared to our Media and Communication programme (600 students) it is very small but this course has to be as I will explain later. The academy understands that most students on graduation start as or become freelancers and the academy is developing students to work both inside and outside the mainstream music industries, where music and the creative industries interface.
Interestingly there is no fixed curriculum, at the beginning of the first year students have to create a learning programme of their own based around what they want to create whilst at the academy. What they are presenting is an environment where the learning is negotiated by the students so it is self determined-a bit like post grad style teaching and learning at undergraduate level. This is where the small course numbers becomes important; the students are put into working groups based on the similarity of things they want to produce or skill sets that can be shared as benefit to all in the group-it was stressed that the group dynamic is very important and staff spend a lot of time before the start of the course that the students are well placed in a group as peer collaboration and peer teaching/learning plays a central role in the teaching and learning culture in the academy .
All students get a 20 minute lecture twice a day from different lecturers who bring to the course a specific set of skills and knowledge that they share and then the students go off in their groups to work on their projects. This sense of freedom helps in developing the students’ sense of personal responsibility to their own learning. Every 10 weeks there is an interview between group lecturer/mentor and each student in their group to check on student progress and to evaluate and assess the students’ progress, work to date and their learning goals. At this point each student has to produce a critical evaluation of their progress, learning and development and then extra tuition, resources etc are achieved through negotiation.
The development of students as creative entrepreneurs resonates with some of what we do in the Birmingham School of Media but not as advanced or flexible as the academy’s approach. I think having smaller numbers certainly helps manage such a course and would be difficult to replicate across our Media and Communication course at Birmingham City University where we have 600 students on the programme each taking a specialist pathway.
Jan has kindly invited me and Jez to come and spend some time at the academy and contribute some of our knowledge in an academic exchange programme. There was also the suggestion that we should take a few of our students with us to experience this method of teaching and learning as the academy also offers a student exchange programme. Visiting and experiencing the academy’s philosophy and environment will be beneficial as we would be able to see how it works, get to speak to some of the other staff and students and see how we can potentially combine some of their methods and philosophies into our teaching and learning practice. It was very inspiring meeting Jan and we experienced firsthand some of his students work later that day/evening at the Sign Gallery where they were performing and exhibiting at a show called ‘Soep’ (Dutch for Soup) where quite believably we got served free soup whilst we walked around and looked at the art and listened to the bands. It was great seeing the fruits of the student’s hard work during their studies at the academy. The next day they also held a Dayparty where they had live music and this time free beer. What I liked about it was that I got to hang out with the cool kids of Groningen, heard some great music and saw some really interesting art.
Despite Eurosonic being a festival by the industry for the industry it was still a very informative and enjoyable experience and I look forward to returning to Groningen to meet Jan Peer, Ard Boer and the whole bunch of lovely new friends I made whilst out there.