I’ve had some friendy jibes, in recent weeks, about my decision to go to MusicMatters. After all, this is supposed to be my big year away from business and “the industry” Last year I said that for 2012,
“No new projects, no new clients, no sales pitches, no networking, no marketing, no branding, no seeking influence, no driving online traffic, no conferences, no workshops, no more business/industry/creativity books or blogs and no new online or social media services/platforms/add-ons.”
So, why am I going to a big fat music industry conference like MusicMatters?
The Long View
When I moved to Hong Kong, I expected to be there for two to three years and stayed for five. I made decisions in the first few years, like choosing not to go out to events and meet people, that I later came to regret. It was only after I started really making an effort to attend events and connect with people through Twitter, in late 2009, that opportunities started to open up.
I honestly don’t know how long I’ll be living in Singapore. But, if I do stay here for a while, which is a possibility, then I might regret not attending MusicMatters this year. That’s the same reason why I jumped at the chance to help organise the Singapore Souncloud meetup next week.
The Asian Moment
Back in 1999 I was expecting to live out my days in Europe and North America. Then in early 2003 the opportunity came to move to to Delhi and I’ve lived in Asia ever since.
There’s no other event in Asia that compares to MusicMatters. In 2010, the conference significantly expanded its live music showcase and last year two extra days were added, with a focus on digital media. This year, the conference is expanding again, with gaming and publishing programmes. It’s really becoming a multi-dimensional conference and the closest thing to SXSW we have in Asia.
The Singapore Location
Not long ago, I read someone suggesting that last year’s MusicMatters was not relevant for local musicians. That’s certainly not the way I see it. I’ve tried toiling away in obscurity and it’s vastly over-rated. Having the focus of the world’s music industry on your doorstep is a huge gift.
Of course, these kinds of opportunites are what you make of them. The more you invest of yourself, the more you get out of them. It’s all about meeting the different kinds of people you need in your creative universe. And, when you don’t have to add the cost of airfares and hotels to the equation, the investment looks even better.
The Momentum Thing
The 2010 conference was a challenging experience for me. I’d just started my company, SoundWallah, had a little over 1,000 followers on Twitter and my blog was in the doldrums. I often felt lost and struggled to build connections. Last year, I had about 2,800 followers, a more active blog and although I still felt like a nobody, but, at least I didn’t have that “alone in the wilderness” feeling.
This year, I’ve got a lot more followers on Twitter and larger readership on the blog and for the past few weeks, a regular stream of emails from people who are going to the conference and would like to meet and talk. It hasn’t been easy to build that kind of momentum and it doesn’t make sense to walk away from it now.
The conference line-up is very impressive and I’m expecting to attend great talks and hear amazing music. I’m also looking forward to asking questions during the panels and posting comments on Twitter. In fact I’m expecting the whole week to be kind of awesome.
But, come Monday the 28th, I’ll be back to the regular grind. It might take a few extra coffees to kick start my day, but the reality of “the work” will be in front of me again.
“That’s really the whole point of closing the doors – more music, more images, more words. I’m not rejecting work, I’m embracing it in a very focussed, passionate and deliberate fashion.”
But, producing all that extra work is pointless if it’s just going to sit on a hard drive. Getting that work out there requires connections. That’s the reality of the digital revolution. That’s why I’m borrowing time to go to MusicMatters. Even if I spend the rest of the year cloistered away in my studio, the conversations will continue – and, I’m choosing to be part of them.