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In the City 2010

In the City was the late Tony Wilson’s gift to the British music industry, featuring guest speakers and a whole host of unsigned bands competing to be awarded the unofficial title of ‘boys or girls most likely to.’ This year’s event is in Manchester and features panellists including Elbow’s Guy Garvey and The Charlatans‘ Tim Burgess. It runs from the 13th to 15th and this year focuses on technology.

Can music be broken down into business blocks? While we’d all like to think that music is art, to ignore the business side of things is a mistake many young bands make and spend a lifetime regretting.

The conference side of the festival hosts in-depth discussions about the state of the music industry as well as panels on issues such as ticketing, blogging and the Chinese music industry and keynote speakers including Jay Brown, the president and co-founder of Roc Nation, and REM’s manager Bertis Downs. (Not the other one, Jefferson Holt, who did something they don’t talk about and was fired.)

Pink Floyd drummer Nick Mason is another keynote speaker; he’ll be in conversation with Jeremy Silver from the Featured Artists Coalition, an organisation who aim to give artists more control of their music .

Nick, however, explained that he isn’t there simply to deliver his opinion: “There’s an element of discussing things rather that coming across with pre-meditated ideas of what we should be, or what we do.”

Bands on the bill include  No Age, Sky Larkin and Kisses.

So is In the City any use? Yes and no. Like most industry events, it’s really quite dry unless you are involved in it. Despite the glamorous nature of rock and roll, it does indeed boil down to units shifted and marketing spend. ITC tries to re-position the artist in the mix, but it’s really a case of working on what should be as opposed to what actually is. The music industry is concerned with changes, but primarily how changes affect it; the feeling is that musicians are disposable and adaptive anyway.

In the end, ITC is a worthy three days containing much back slapping and as much coke in the cubicles as you’d expect. It’s a nice idea, but won’t cause a revolution.

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