Global Music Network
Global Music Network: The Future of Music
Fora Do Eixo
In the first decade of this century the music industry underwent changes and revolutions that shook up the traditional means of production and distribution. In light of new information and production technologies, and the growth of an informal market, what would happen the traditional music infrastructure? Was it the end of the major labels and the beginning of the consolidation of independent music markets? These questions have increasingly been explored in recent years, sparking hundreds of debates worldwide.
The historical catchphrase "Do it yourself" found a new horizon within the crisis of the large mainstream industry, and a widespread discussion about the future of music took over Brazil. Chris Henderson's seminal book, The Long Tail, served as a major reference, and multiple events began to emerge in Brazil with the purpose of addressing and debating this future, each of these forums represented in the question: What is the future of music?
In 2005, inspired and encouraged by the historical moment, independent Brazilian producers launched two very important initiatives for the organization of the Brazilian independent market: ABRAFIN (Brazilian Association of Festivals) and Circuit Outside the Axis (Circuito Fora do Eixo). These two initiatives further accelerated the debate around new models of production and organisation in music, and pointed to the importance of network associations and collaborative practices as a key strategy when thinking about this new music market. The "Do you yourself" motto gradually gave way to the redefined "Do it together" collaborative experience.
Simultaneously, a major change also occurred in the field of cultural policy in Brazil. Among the many transformations championed by the Lula government was the need for symbolic and structural decentralisation of state expenditure in culture, thereby affirming the important role that civil society organisations should play in the redistribution of public funds. The Ministry of Culture, under the leadership of Gilberto Gil and Juca Ferreira, was revolutionary in this sense, throwing more fuel on the fire in the debate over the path for contemporary Brazilian music industries. There was the creation of the Brazilian Music Network (Réde Música Brasil), a council that consists of 17 organizations representing the entire productive chain of Brazilian Music, established direct channels between the industry and the state, the latter of which becomes a protagonist in this debate. Topics such as the Copyright and Digital Culture gained centrality within the Ministry of Culture, which also begins to promote the Brazilian Music Fair with the purpose of casting a wider spotlight on the changes in the music market and broadening the channels of communication among the various organized movements that consolidated in the first decade of the twentieth century.
Therefore, over the last decade and within this context, three fundamental pillars for the development of Brazilian independent music were combined:
1) large independent music production "laboratories" (indie-rock; the Hip Hop movement; other musical forms from the peripheries such as Rio Funk and Tecnobrega; New MPB; Circuit Outside the Axis, among many others).
2) forums for reflection, articulation and consolidation of new public policies.
3) organising principles based on systemic collaboration, and the growth of various networks and associated environments.
The sum of these three factors promoted a true redesign of Brazilian music, enabling processes of decentralisation, systematisation and organisation of independent music in the country. Rather than simply São Paulo, Rio de Janeiro and Salvador de Bahia as the axis of music production, this axis spread from the center to the periphery, from Oiapoque to Chuí, and a new musical map emerged.
As of a few years ago, the "best albums" list reflects predominantly independent artists from all regions of Brazil. By way of further example, taking into account only those events organized by Fora Do Exio, more than 30,000 artists circulated through the network of festivals in 2012. Its most ambitious festival, Grito Rock! (Scream Rock!), occurs in 200 interconnected cities with over 3000 shows -- all in a single month. Several Brazilian states and municipalities have begun to develop specific policies related to independent music, such as Música Minas (from the state of Minas Gerais) and Terrua Pará (from the state of Pará). And some companies have started to invest in programs specifically for the promotion of independent music, like the Vivo Connection program (from the Brazilian telecomm company, Vivo) and the multiple grants earmarked for independent artists and music festivals by Petrobras, Brazil's largest and semi-public (oil) company. Networks and network "families" proliferate in Brazil, and an independent circuit increasingly gains strength and solidifies itself as a reality. Out of this trunk, a new form of artist is awakened and this movement helps the emergence of a new way of thinking and doing politics, a new way of exercising citizenship, as recently proven by the São Paulo social movement, "Love Exists in SP."
Of course, all this occurs in an environment that still needs to be improved. The difficulties of consolidating sustainable careers for independent artists and producers is still a challenge to be overcome, but increasingly more those heated debates about the future have turned into the pleasurable daily work of thousands of people who do not take these difficulties as an insurmountable gulf, but rather as challenges to be permanently overcome.
All this intense process has also fostered connections with other countries, and year after year these international contacts also contribute to the development of our networks. In 2012, these connections accelerated even more, and in addition to the vibrant exchanges, international programs and social movements have recognized the work developed in Brazil. In Latin America we find the Association for the Development of the Iberoamerican Music Industry (Associación para el Dessarrolo de la Industria Musical Iberoamericana to Dessarrolo, ADIMI), the Haul, a Venezuelan music network inspired by the Brazilian experience, the Network of Argentinian Women Producers, the Playing Wood movement, Singer Song Writers of Central America, and platforms such as the Grito Rock! (Shout Rock!) and the Brazilian Network of Festivals expand contact between producers and the circulation of artists. Latin America, today much more connected, has come to understand its contemporary historical role and is inspired by the possibilities of a new global narrative. In Europe, programs like Un-Convention (England) acknowledge the Brazilian experience as a new reference, and view it as a great reference for considering the challenges of a joint global indie scene. All these organizations and programs began 2013 eager and willing to present the collaborative model and systemic network as a possible new narrative for the music world.
Encouraged by all these connections, and especially the results achieved here in Brazil, it is now time to broaden our horizons even more. All the debates about the future of music, and all the work carried out by thousands of producers and artists in recent years, weave together a new reality and a new reference point. The future has arrived! The time has come to transform all this melting pot of experiences with and reflections upon global music into one great supper, and Brazil has a pivotal role in this story. In the coming years all eyes of the world will be looking in our direction, and Brazilian music, with all its grandeur and beauty, is well prepared for it.
The time has come to join forces for the consolidation of a large global network of music so we can actually have a long tail and lose control.
Bring on the next 10 years…
Talles Lopes, Fora Do Exio
Un-Convention was conceived by a collective of DIY record labels based in Manchester in 2008. It was born as the music industry was going into massive transformation; digital had impacted upon the old landscape, the old industry models were broken, the recording industry began to rapidly decline, new gatekeepers were emerging and new ways of sharing music were launched. The old music industry spoke about the death of the industry and many of the industry events struggled to understand these changes.
The old industry did not adapt quickly enough and said the music industry was declining. However, we identified opportunity within this new landscape for the grassroots and independent music infrastructure to begin to work together, harnessing the power of digital tools and social media to become empowered and create a new music landscape.
Un-Convention is a grassroots, DIY and independent global music community and a series of events and initiatives crowd sourced from its community. It is un-conventional in its approach, locally driven and globally connected. It seeks to inform, empower and reach those with the least opportunity. The community is driven by a not-for-profit initiative that sees opportunity for the grassroots in changes to the way that music is being produced, consumed and sustained. Un-Convention understands that the most interesting stuff happens on the margins. Un-Convention doesn’t believe in ‘do it yourself’. We believe in ‘do it together’. We facilitate and support music as a tool for social change.
Over the past 3 years, Un-Convention has delivered 46 major events around the globe, spanning 6 continents and 16 countries and has another 20 events planned for 2012-13. Un-Convention happens over five continents and in cities from Swansea to Sao Paulo. Un-Convention annually involves 1,500 artists and bands, 16,400 participants, 36,000 gig goers and 140,000 people online. Of those attending Un-Convention, 40% of people are from disadvantaged backgrounds. It happens in some of the most amazing spaces including The Roundhouse (London), Auditorio Ibirapuera (Sao Paulo), and Comuna 13 (Medellin); and as part of some incredible festivals like Primavera Sound, Eurosonic and MICA.
Un-Convention develops initiatives suggested by it’s global community of musicians, creatives and entrepreneurs, such as the development of a touring network; sharing models of best practice; development of music cooperatives in places like Uganda to bolster the music industry; international mentoring schemes and a music equipment recycling scheme.
Un-Convention has responded to a changing musical landscape and developed an innovative global infrastructure of the future music industry. It is an example of cutting edge cultural ideas and innovation on a truly global scale, founded in and led from Manchester. Un-Convention has an exceptional reach with the work it carries out and works with partners including The British Council, The University of Manchester, governments around the world and brands.
Ruth Daniel, Un-Convention
Un-Convention’s Off Axis
Un-Convention is developing a revolutionary online resource for the independent music sector. It will provide a new model for artists to work together to produce successful and meaningful shows across the whole of the UK. It will enable these artists to establish national fanbases, visit towns and cities that previously would not have been viable, build audience confidence in the grass roots sector as a whole, and ultimately develop a more vibrant and sustainable independent live industry.
For this project Un-Convention is working with the Fora do Eixo from Brazil to build a replicable and scalable touring network based on a proven system. Combining the collaborative and pioneering spirits of Brazil and Manchester, the network aims to revolutionise the independent music sector at a regional, national and international level.
This new network, called ‘Off Axis’, is being built on the founding principles of the Fora do Eixo. The Fora do Eixo was established in 2005, when collectives in four cities across Brazil agreed to work together to circulate artists. Since then it has continued to grow. It now includes some 200 towns from every corner of the country. Between them they produce over 6000 shows per year, with 30,000 artists being circulated. Shows range from local club gigs to 35,000 capacity festivals. The network has a thousand full time employees, reaches around 8 million people, and now has it’s own university.
The Fora do Eixo has created arguable the most vibrant independent music sector in the world, and yet is still relatively unknown outside of its native Brazil.
In December 2012, Un-Convention and the Fora do Eixo agreed to work together to develop the Off Axis system, an ethical and transparent co-operative model that will transform the independent music sector and provide long term, unprecedented opportunities for artists. The model provides a non-exclusive and free to use platform that allows bands from different cities to work together to produce successful shows for one another. It enables artists to trade their local audience in such a way that they can play reciprocal, sold out shows in any city across the UK, even ones they have never visited before.
The development is being managed here in Manchester, with a view to launching nationally in late summer. There have already been preliminary discussions for it to be replicated across the Netherlands, Denmark, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, India and Australia.
The system is designed with a mid-term view to allow Off Axis networks across different countries to link together, and eventually to provide opportunities for independent artists to tour internationally, providing a point of entry to break new territories in a way never before possible.
Off Axis has already been met with overwhelming enthusiasm from all levels of the industry, both nationally and internationally. To that end Un-Convention are partnering with the Bristol Music Foundation, Welsh Music Foundation, The Bedford, Norwich Sound and Vision, Born to Be Wide, Ditto Music and a number of other music organisations from across the UK.
Off Axis is the translation of Fora do Eixo.
Jeff Thompson, Un-Convention
Global Music Network
Building on the networks that already exist and helping develop infrastructure in places where it does not, The Global Music Network is the creation of free source digital tools to share with local networks, that facilitate the organision of` the local music infrastructure and link back internationally to networks around the world to enable:
- The mobility of bands around their home countries and international touring and festival opportunities.
- The mobility of ideas, free source digital tools and best practice.
- The promotion of working together.