Keynote Rob McDermott

The Buma ROCKS! conference kick-off came from dedicated metal fan Rob McDermott, former manager of Linkin Park and many other groundbreaking acts in heavy music, and the owner of both Metal Edge and Metal Maniacs magazine. In his keynote speech and the subsequent talk with Frank Helmink (managing director at Buma Cultuur and initiator of Buma ROCKS!) McDermott pointed out that in this genre human interaction and word-of-mouth still play an important role when it comes to spreading new music. And though to many an old-school metal fan it may seem as if the genre is losing ever more ground to other musical styles, McDermott presented some statistics ("thanks to Mashable and sites like that") about the reach of social media (heavy music related tweets cater to about 140.000.000 Twitter-followers) and the number of rock, hard rock and heavy metal in album sales (almost forty percent, still).
To a suggestion from the audience that modern metal bands simply lack anthems, McDermott answered: "If an English band like Bring Me The Horizon can sell 3000 tickets in the US without any substantial promotion through radio, tv or press, I think we have to realize that there is a young generation of metal fans that those of us who grew up with eighties metal have no clue about. Young bands like these are our future headliners and in my opinion the older headliners of today should lead them the way and help them develop. Educate them, don't hate them."
McDermott wasn't running short of advice to young acts and the heavy scene in general. "To enjoy a healthy community we have to get back to the fundamentals. Don't be greedy, for there isn't that much money to make anymore. Push your boundaries, don't be afraid to fail every now and then. And first and foremost give your fans a musical experience that they will never forget. It is not necessary for you to be best pals with them. We need rock stars."

Panel #1
The panel entitled Breaking The Borders of Heavy Music featured English agent Beckie Sugden, American A&R-manager Monte Malone and Danish metal promoter Jeppe Nissen together with music journalist and metal connaisseur Mark van Schaick, discussing the international reach of heavy music genres and the challenges for acts who would like to broaden their horizons. Nissen explained all about his work for metal festival Copenhell and him founding showcase festival When Copenhell Freezes Over in Copenhagen. Sugden stressed the importance of an act's open and honest approach of either agent or management. "Don't boast that you'll draw 75 paying vistors to your show when there will be only 50. If you say you'll draw 50 and 50 show up, then we have a good starting point." Malone has more than a bit of experience with the international exchange of bands through organizing the Global Rock Summit in Los Angeles. According to his beliefs, a band can't start looking across the border early enough. "Someone playing heavy metal is stepping into an arena as big as the world. Sure, your local fanbase is important, but you would be out of your mind not to look beyond that." Questions from the audience about management and touring were answered by the threesome with examples from their own practice, making the panel worthwhile for both aspiring artists and their potential representatives.

Panel #2
Second panel Rock Your Style! Focused on image building: how important are an act's looks and how do you present yourself to your advantage? Led by a number of propositions of moderator Waldo Volmer, panel members Ingeborg Steenhorst (costume designer and stylist of many heavy acts), Bertus Barbier (Schorem Barbers of Rotterdam), Thomas Bredahl (former guitarist with Danish rockers Volbeat, now an artist manager) and journalist Philippus Zandstra discussed essentials like stage presentation and production, trends and the most important conclusion after all of this: it's all about authenticity.

Export Award
For the first time ever the Buma ROCKS! Export Award was presented during the conference. Adrian Vandenberg, already in town for the gig with his new band MoonKings at FortaRock the next day, was genuinely surprised to be honored with the Award. According to Buma Cultuur's Frank Helmink, this very first Buma ROCKS! Export Award could not have been handed to a more suitable person: "MoonKings is the new addition to the long list of heavy music acts from the Netherlands that do well internationally. The fact that this year Adrian Vandenberg has come back so strongly after so many years, is quite extraordinary. Not just with a high-quality rock album but with powerful concerts outside the Netherlands with his young and talented band as well."

Heavy Chats
After the short, sweet and very effective Export Award ceremony, the BBQ fire was lit in Doornroosje's courtyard. Meanwhile members of the showcase bands had the opportunity to isolate themselves from the rest of the crowd for some Heavy Chats about their careers with singer Anneke van Giersbergen, Buma ROCKS! keynote speaker Rob McDermott, Volkmar Udri (European agent for Children of Bodom, Ensiferum, Amorphis, Cannibal Corpse, Kataklysm, Dr. Living Dead! and Dew-Scented), Jörg Düsedau (managing director of Dragon Productions, one of Europe's main metal booking agencies), Jamie Cavanagh (bassist for Anathema and all-round live music specialist) and Jasper Schuurmans (manager of marketing and new business manager with English management powerhouse Northern Music).