The Great Escape 2012: Convention Wisdom

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For all the countless gigs, launches, showcases and assorted peripheral weirdness clogging up the venues of Brighton for the seventh annual Great Escape festival, there’s a slightly lower-profile programme of events that serves a different purpose than mere entertainment.

The annual Great Escape Convention is an essential, unique and unmissable string to the festival’s bow, covering all aspects of the business end of being a musician in varying detail – and admittedly with varying degrees of seriousness.

It’s become clear that for many artists, a traditional record deal isn’t necessarily the be all and end all, and some guidance in going it alone might come in handy. As such, the 2012 TGE Convention’s six-part Spotlight on DIY series should prove invaluable.

With panel sessions on Getting Started, Getting Noticed, Opening the Door, Running a Label and Building a Team, plus a close-of-play networking Digital Pitch Party, Thursday’s Convention schedule is groaning under the weight of vital advice from industry professionals galore.

Thursday also features an exclusive 50-minute “fireside chat” with BBC 6Music presenter (and, lest we forget, former Menswe@r drummer) Matt Everitt and Placebo singer Brian Molko. Before you let loose with the mockery, bear in mind they’ve got upwards of 30 years’ experience between them, on various sides of the industry coalface – and while Placebo might no longer be the UK indie superstars they were in the late ‘90s, they’re still doing impressive business elsewhere, with exactly the kind of insight a lot of new bands could benefit from hearing.

Friday’s schedule features five Spotlight on Music Media panels, from The New Music Press and New Music Radio to a chat with Xfm legend John Kennedy, and what’s set to be a very lively discussion entitled What Would You Do With Radio 1?.

There’s also a one-off opportunity to listen to Glastonbury Festival figurehead Michael Eavis in conversation with the man behind the event that’s snapping at Glasto’s heels, Bestival founder Rob Da Bank. Now’s your chance to beg Eavis to stop booking Coldplay

Saturday’s Convention, you’ll be relieved to hear, is generally a little less intense. Saying that, a panel discussion on What Do Brands Want? (And What Will They Give In Return?) is sure to raise the hackles of more righteous – and nowadays, increasingly unrealistic – graduates of the the Bill Hicks School of Marketing.

A treat for some arrives around lunchtime with a trio of old studio stagers in conversation: Trevor Horn (Pet Shop Boys, Belle & Sebastian producer), Lol Creme (10cc singer, Yes video director) and Ash Soan (session drummer to the stars – well, Dido and Robbie Williams at any rate), discussing their ongoing Producers project.

But the real fun starts mid-afternoon with a double dose of Membranes/Gold Blade frontman and Louder Than War major domo John Robb: first playing the punk-rock Dimbleby at a Pop Question Time session, then delivering the legendarily hard Great Escape Pop Quiz at teatime. You’ll find us at the latter, that’s for damn sure.

For a full list of Convention events, check out escapegreat.com/conversations

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