“This year’s Wide Days was an opportunity to further build on our international activities and highlight new opportunities for sustaining artists and music businesses. Over 200 meetings were booked using the delegate platform and the decision to grow the showcase programme proved a popular move, with many performances close to capacity.”
Founder, Olaf Furniss
Wide Days, Scotland’s Music Convention has come a long way since its first inception. 14 years on, the 2023 edition was held in the beautiful surroundings of Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms. 350 participants took part from 10 countries. The convention had three pillars: Conference, Showcases and Networking.
The quality of speakers and participants was impressive with representation from industry bodies including the Music Venue Trust, Association of Independent Music, Public Performance Licensing, Music Managers Forum and PRS Foundation.
The Convention also had an international reach with representatives from Musica Miexico and M For Montreal also taking part. The power of reciprocal relationships across borders leads to such fruitful collaborations.
Talks were on a broad range of subjects, the majority aimed at artists to assist them in navigating the challenges of the industry. They covered the whole spectrum from the practical (for example “Getting in the US”, “Dealing with Performance Anxiety”, “Synch or Swim“) to policy (“Music, Government and Public Sectors”), to current challenges facing artists (“Fan Engagement – From Stone Age to Space Age”, “Five Steps Towards Equitable Streaming”), to the future (“Clubber Power – Low Carbon Heat from the Dancefloor”) and the pure inspirational (“Simon Williams (Fierce Panda) in Conversation”, Music Broth – The Musical Instrument Bank“).
Every evening during the Convention there was live music, each with a different focus.
Creative Scotland, PRS Foundation and Music Venue Trust – Emerging Artists/Talent Development Showcase featured Scottish artists Russell Stewart, Quiet Houses, Silvi and The Big Day onstage at La Belle Angele. A smart move was making this free to the public and there was a big crowd to see these talented artists perform.
Three venues in Edinburgh’s Old Town showcased current artists from Scotland in La Belle Angele, Sneaky Petes and Bongo Club. Highlights included Becky Sikasa, Iona Zajac, Humour and Midnight Ambulance
The final evening of music was curated by M For Montreal in La Belle Angele and Focus Wales in Sneaky Petes. An impressive line-up which included Laorie, Bibi Club, Sage Todz and the night ended with the disco punk of Choses Sauvages.
There was plenty of opportunity for networking with 1 to 1 meetings easy to arrange and I spoke to Music Venue Trusts Scotland Coordinator Oliver Melling about the challenges grassroots venues face across Scotland.
Social events were also arranged to explore Edinburgh’s culture including a coach tour of the city, an independent record shop tour, a music city walking tour and, of course, a whisky tasting session. There was also a lunch arranged for the artists to enable them to mix and chat in a relaxed setting.
The Convention was run with the artist at its heart, as it should be. Positivity, openness and warmth and collaboration were at its centre. The landscape for artists may currently seem dauting and challenging but if Wide Days demonstrated anything it was that there are a myriad of people and organisations prepared to fight in an attempt to do the very best for the artists and the industry around it. It feels like a battle at times, which is heart-breaking but nonetheless its one that many are prepared to fight for.
For more information on Wide Days please check out the website
Next years convention will be on 1, 2 and 3 May 2024.