CONFERENCE 2015

Third edition of loud music conference Buma ROCKS! all about collectivity and long-term thinking.

Friday June 5th was a sunny day in The Netherlands in many respects. While metal festival FortaRock was setting up camp elsewhere in the city of Nijmegen, the international conference for loud music, Buma ROCKS!, sold out its third edition in rock venue Doornroosje. A keynote speech, panels and chats in the afternoon, and a showcase festival named FortaRock In The City at night, with both Dutch bands and some tasty treats from abroad.

Investment
Long-term thinking seemed to be the topic on every speaker's mind during the conference. Keynote speaker Neil Warnock, CEO of The Agency Group and a man with fifty years of rock industry experience under his belt, questioned the role of record labels in this day and age. He pointed out that a true career in rock music is not necessarily linked to songs, labels or a stream of hit records. "We are having Alter Bridge and Steel Panther tour a lot, and we're not looking at what their labels are planning. And just look at bloody Alice Cooper, Deep Purple, Motorhead and Uriah Heep. They keep on touring the globe, successfully still, every year again. So: marathon or sprint? Do the marathon." During the managers panel it was stressed that many times a tour does not give instant gratification financially, but should be seen as an investment in future operations purely. English band manager Dan Brown said: "We are managing expectations. Which means that sometimes we have to slow a band down. Teach them how to cope with jealousy. Because you cannot always have everything now. You have to build."

Neil Warnock
Neil Warnock's background reads like an adventure novel. Between all the stories about the biggest names in the business (he worked with Pink Floyd, The Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, and is still handling Rush, Deep Purple and Motorhead, amongst others) he stressed the fact that the human factor is still the most important of all on the business side of the music industry as well. He still goes out to see young unknown bands play and mentioned a collective responsibility within the rock industry. "When one of my artists is very serious about his job, I get motivated even more than I already am. Because I am a serious worker as well. So question yourself every now and then: what is it that I am doing? Why am I doing it? Can I do it better? It is so easy to waste your time on the wrong things. Do not forget: this work is all about relationships. We are all partners."

Managing
Andy 'get a receipt' Farrow, Dan Brown and Wilfried Damman were unanimously in their statements that a manager should have a personal click with an artist, that a manager nowadays is involved in every aspect of an artist's career and that live performance is paramount. A band seeking a manager should have a ground plan and ideally have done some serious playing already. Andy Farrow: "It is your band, not the manager's. So know a bit of what the business is about. Do some internships, learn the trade and know why one day you might fire your manager. Give your band some time, even when the numbers are disappointing."

Panel #2 and Export Award
Before the start of the festival panel, Dutch symphonic metal band Epica was awarded the Buma ROCKS! Export Award for outstanding achievements abroad by Buma Cultuur chairman Frank Helmink. Epica founding member Mark Jansen one of the panel members, has become a festival agent himself of late, for Epica announced their very first Epic Fest just before Buma ROCKS! kicked off. It will take place on November 22nd in Eindhoven. Jansen, Walter Hoeijmakers (of Roadburn fame) and Sat Bisla (of LA's Global Rock Summit) concluded that while there seems to be a wildfire of rock and metal festivals going, only those initiatives coming from true fans and the acts themselves are set to survive. Everyone in the audience could relate to Hoeijmakers when he explained how his life and his work were always intertwined. Another topic discussed was the importance of offering extras on site or online, to make sure your audience has an allround experience and to let those fans who can't afford to come to the festival still participate as well.

Demo's and Heavy Chats
The trio of producer Oscar Holleman, John van Luyn (of Amsterdam venue De Melkweg) and Jens Prüter (A&R Century Media Records) reviewed a number of demo recordings offered by Buma ROCKS! visitors in the Heavy Demo panel. They commented honestly and upbeat on the music offered, which made for some funny audience participation. Later on, during happy networking hour, several musicians sat down privately with professionals from the Dutch heavy scene, Joost van den Broek, Rene Rutten and Wilko Reijnders.

Showcases
Dutch bands Mary Fields, Mandrake's Monster, Stream Of Passion and Antropomorphia played strong sets during FortaRock In The City. Stylistically quite diverse, they were flanked by international names like Scarred, At The Gates, Night Fever, Greenleaf and Igorrr. The diverse mix worked out pretty well, from Mary Fields' mathcore to the seventies-tinged feel-good hardrock of Mandrake's Monster, and from the very professionally performed female-fronted metal of Stream Of Passion to the blunt death metal of extremists Antropomorphia. Buma ROCKS! has an exchange program with Denmark's showcasefestival When Copenhell Freezes Over since 2014. The first Dutch band to play there were Paceshifters and at this Buma ROCKS! Mandrake's Monster have been selected by the Danish delegation to come to Copenhagen in January 2016. In exchange, Danish hardcore band Night Fever played a fierce set at Doornroosje, much to the pleasure of the audience.