MMF 30 Summit

29 September 2022

This week we were excited to celebrate 30 years of the MMF and, in the forward-thinking spirit of our founders, hosted a special one-day Managers Summit at Cafe KOKO. This brought together around 120 members of our community with some of music’s most fascinating tech and digital innovators – including representatives from Serenade and TokenTraxx who helped support the event.    

It also provided a platform to launch the MMF’s brand new book (available now!) The Essentials Of Music Management, and proceedings kicked off with a short discussion on the challenges and opportunities facing managers today – with Paul Bonham, our Professional Development Director, Sumit Bothra (MMF board member and MD of ATC Management) and Cleo Amedume (Partner at Muvva, and a current Accelerator participant). As well as exploring team building and commercial sustainability – both key areas of the book – Cleo and Sumit talked extensively about managing the demands of online culture and live performance, and the increased importance of protecting mental health.  

This was a first clear lesson of the day: managers and their clients both need clear boundaries and space to operate to the best of their potential.  

From here, we leapt into the future with an incredibly wide-ranging panel seeking to demystify all things Web3, moderated by Embrace Music’s Mariana Brandao and featuring Max Shand (Serenade), Tommy D (TokenTraxx), Alex Kane (Volta XR) and the artist / producer Fifi Rong. 

This discussion covered an awful lot of ground in an hour, including some of the positive environmental changes happening in this space, and it was incredibly insightful to hear from five individuals so immersed in the culture of Web3, and so encouraging for others to jump in, experiment and expand their fanbases in new ways. 

Following a quick lunch break, and with MMF Associates running one-on-one “clinics” in the background, we ran a quickfire series of presentations (billed as Summit Shorts) where MMF friends and experts had 15m to speak on a specialised subject.

Those participating were: 

  • Keith Jopling, MIDiA: Setting The Scene 
  • India Allen, ILLA Management: Mixing, Mastering and the Future of Audio 
  • Richard Bron and Nick Feldman, Concord Media Group: Gigs In The Metaverse
  • Raffaella de Santis, Level Law: Future Proofing Your Artist’s Career 

This was a real “feed your head” experience, with almost too many nuggets of information to take away, but some of the brilliant tips we picked up were: 

  • The potential for web3 (inc NFTs) and the Metaverse is massive but it’s not yet embedded into wider consumer understanding or tech. However, almost every technology goes through a similar stage before mainstream adoption. Expect Web3 to become commonplace over the next 5,10,15 years.   
  • New formats (such as Dolby Atmos, spacial sound and immersive audio for gaming) are exciting, but they cost money and can damage an artist’s music if attention to mixes is undervalued.  Apple Music, for example, defaults all listeners to the Dolby Mix – so make sure if you do it, that it’s done well! Also as mixing in new formats is increasingly an expected recoupable artist cost, it needs carful consideration. So check your contracts, speak to your label and decide if the investment if justified, and if it should be covered as a promo or marketing cost. 
  • Own your own deep fakes! The tech to scan and replicate faces is accelerating and the potential is endless.  Think carefully about your artist’s image and who can own and exploit it. The technology to create IRL concerts and holograms is also expanding – unlocking the potential widespread adoption of concerts in the metaverse – for example Spotify’s Roblox HipHop Island.
  • The world and value of online collectibles is constantly innovating and growing.  Some buzz words to be aware of Virch = virtual merch (in gaming for Avatars for example); PFPs (profile pic); POAPs (proof of attendance e.g.virtual ticket stubs); Phygital (bridging digital and physical) 
  • When negotiating contracts with labels, publishers, promoters, or brands ensure you consider “MOOD” (or “DOOM”!) – Money, Objectives, Obligations and Duration.
  • Image rights are important! Be aware that they may be worth a lot of money in the future and can be used to build avatars of artists in gaming or for virtual or real world concerts (as with the ABBAtars). So licence your rights, don’t assign them; and think hard about the terms and length of contracts.

Finally, we wrapped up with our keynote interview, where MMF GM, Anneliese Harmon, posed the questions to Rob Swerdlow, co-founder of Starwood Management, on his incredible 30 years in the business. 

Recognised at the 2020 Artist & Manager Awards as Manager of the Year for Starwood’s work with Michael Kiwanuka, Little Simz and The Kooks, Rob took us right back to his early days working for The La’s, his foundational belief in classic songwriting no matter the genre, the experience of being based in Liverpool, and the importance of building partnerships in order to serve the artist’s vision – whether with labels, distributors, DSPs or tech businesses. 

His approach to new innovations like NFTs typified this attitude: don’t overthink it, roll up your sleeves, get involved, educate yourself and do what works for you. 

So an inspirational end to an inspirational day, and rollercoaster ride through the past, the present and the future.  

We’d like to thank everyone who supported, participated, bought a book and help us celebrate, and we’ll definitely be repeating this Summit format sometime soon.  

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