Five things we learned at Off the Record Manchester


Written by , 16th November 2017


Held across multiple venues in Manchester’s Northern Quarter on the 10th November, Off the Record is an emerging music conference where the industry can share innovative ideas, connect with their peers and watch emerging artists handpicked by trusted curators.

We hopped on a train across the Pennines to take in the panels at this year’s conference, here are our five big takeaways:

The importance of accessibility and inclusivity at events

With 13.3 million registered deaf and disabled people currently living in the UK*, making your events inclusive and accessible to these individuals not only widens and broadens your audience, but makes your event an enjoyable experience for all fans. CEO of disability charity Attitude Is Everything, Suzanne Bull MBE led a panel discussion on the importance of inclusion. She was joined by music blogger Hannah McKeamen, as well as musician and producer Robert Maddison and Richard Phoenix of Constant Flux, who recently collaborated with Attitude is everything to launch their brand new, easy-to-read DIY Accessibility Guide.

In the ‘Age of Streaming’, touring is one of artists’ fundamental sources of income 

While the topic has been discussed in industry circles for some years, the panel discussion with the likes of artist manager Tom Hendrik Uebelgunn, Alice Hogg from booking giants Live Nation, Malena Wolfer from AllPoints and Dave Kittlety from Believe Distribution Services offered some eye-opening insights. They felt that while musicians are losing out on record sales and downloads due to the popularity of streaming services like Spotify and Youtube, the big data offers ways of maximising their primary source of income: live shows. By using geographic listener data offered by these platforms alongside services like Shazam, artists and managers have a proven method of booking tour dates that are going to prove profitable.

The gender imbalance within the music industry still needs addressing 

Festival Republic have famously faced backlash for the lack of women on their festival lineups, and so it was interesting to have a Lucy Wood from the giant brand on a panel tackling the gender imbalance within the music industry. She went into detail about the challenges of booking gender balanced lineups, stating that there is a problem on the recording side of industry creating a large enough stock of commercially success female artists in guitar-led genres. With event success often riding on booking the artists that are reflective of what audiences are listening to, it often means often she books male musicians over female counterparts. While she believes that positive discrimination isn’t the answer – as female musicians shouldn’t be tokenized – she advises that booking a female musician on their merits as there are enough out there that will bring in the fans.

The influx of talent is constant

Completing the day, the venues of Manchester’s Northern Quarter transformed into haven’s for new, up and coming sounds as a showcase of some handpicked acts performed and let the crowd know why there’s a buzz around them. It’s worth keeping an eye out for new talent at all times; while some of the acts on show were existing successes, some of the hidden gems that kept a crowd of music industry know-it-alls entertained are the ones that should be on your stages before they hit the big time.

Keep up to date an ever-changing industry

One theme that was pretty much a constant in each and every panel we watched was the need to stay up to date with changes in the industry. Staying on top of new trends, emerging acts and scenes, social media culture and wider consumer trends is key, because if your audience’s attention moves to a new platform, so could your profits.

To make sure you don’t miss out on next year’s conference, follow On The Record’s Facebook page.

Header Image Credit – George Harrison
*Number includes wheelchair users, people with mobility impairments, people with visionary impairments as well as people with non-visible impairments.