Sound City+ with Alan McGee, Amy Lame, Steve Rotherham, Vince Power

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Alan McGee in conversation with John Robb

Alan McGee in conversation with John Robb (photo credit: Amy Chidalo)

Sound City+  at the British Music Experience kicks off this year’s festival, Getintothis’ Amaan Khan and Lewis Ridley find discussions on an international scale.

While Sound City itself might have moved back to its roots of supporting the underground and the local,  it was the global outlook that was the central tone of Sound City+.

Taking place under the majestic roof of the Cunard Building amidst the British Music Experience’s historical artifacts of British music, the conference set its tone with discussions on opportunities in the European market and the change in the same in lieu of the impending doom of Brexit looming over the horizon. The same discussion was looked at from the other perspective of seeing Liverpool’s cultural value as European City of Culture later in the day in other discussions least of which was Future Music City – Discussing the role of the Liverpool City Region Music Board.

With a panel that included Liverpool Metro Mayer, Steve Rotheram, London’s first night Czar Amy Lamé and UK Music representative Natalie Williams – the panel’s main message, among several reiterations of how significant the city’s cultural value is, was cultivation and protection of cultural spaces as well as to support the city’s current music life rather than always approaching it with a nostalgic view.

Although the day started in the Cunard Hall to an audience enjoying complimentary breakfast and mimosas, with a note from representation by PRS Foundation and Keychange – an initiative to have 50:50 gender representation in music festivals – about gender equality; the various bold discussions around gender and racial equality that stood out in Sound City+ 2017 were missing from this year’s event. The discussions were more tamed and generic this year, and mostly focused around economical and cultural values in music alongside the usual topics of sync, marketing and streaming.

Making up for that shortcoming was the special arrangements of providing opportunity to have personal interaction with speakers after each panel – something that proved to be a great bonus to the young creative aspirants that were about. Decorating the ambience near those interactions were of course the acoustic sets that Sound City+ features with sets by KingFast, Mylo Waters and Tawiah being particular highlights.

Just like in previous years, the discussions on sync, plugging and streaming were good opportunities for organizations like Ditto, Sentric and BPI to impart basic marketing and copyright information to artists and managers in attendance. Bringing along, obviously, some new points and perspectives to the table with an example being Music Business Weekly’s Tim Ingham pointing out that though streaming is resulting in growth in the industry finally, the longevity of an artist’s career is in danger. He points out: “People are following songs and not artists”.

Liverpool Sound City 2018 preview, stage times, venue guide

Alongside then were some psychosocial discussions, courtesy of Help Musician and Queen Zee that saw eloquent and impactful execution – one of the few that were focused towards very specific part of the audience alongside few other panels like The Art of Making Records.

The true highlights of the day, however, were the In Conversation with Vince Power and Alan McGee.

Jen Otter Bickerdike was up to converse with Irish music maverick Power, her sources telling her that she was to meet both a legend and an intimidating figure were correct as he delivered his tale of an Irish agricultural background.

He was to be warmed to though, and told an audience listening intently about The Mean Fiddler and his work in London clubs. He went on to discuss Glastonbury, and how he’s only credited with ‘putting up a fence’, when its closer to the truth that he reinvented the festival to be as its seen now.


Closing the day and bringing the conversation full circle to the value in culture was Alan McGee interviewed by John Robb. Beyond the topics and expertise involved in a discussion, charisma goes a long way at events like this – of which, both Robb and McGee have plenty. Expectedly, the conversation takes a nostalgic approach as McGee retells the story of breaking the bands from small venues to the stuff of legend without even being entirely aware of what he was doing alongside speaking on Ecstasy was to the late 80s what LSD was to the 60s.

The conversation, of course, goes on the days of Oasis and the paisley phenomenon discussed in previous Sound City+ editions. However, by retelling how Oasis stole the audience from Stone Roses at a point and how close the history had been to being different – McGee provides first hand recollection of the events that defined the cultural value of Britain and specially the North West, for a decade or two and even though, people have heard it all before, the loud applause at the end denotes that, in this room, they haven’t had enough.

Following conversation with McGee, the gathering disperses to concentrated interpersonal discussions before moving to District for its after-party and engaging in their own review of the tidings of the day. Regardless of that and regardless of what takes place in the two coming days, Sound City+, with all its improvements and otherwise, proves yet again that it is now, unarguably, a fundamental highlight to the discussion and education surrounding music and culture in this part of the world.

Getintothis is the place to find all your Liverpool Sound City 2018 info, picks and more…

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