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ATL | 14:35 UK time, Friday, 17 September 2010

So we had a great turn out from the Belfast electronic music community to the State Of the Nation Panel event at The Stiff Kitten on Monday.

We had a mixture of DJs, Producers, Promoters, Label Managers turn out to for a discussion i was chairing with DJ Paul Woolford, Creamfields WHP promoter Rich Mc Ginninis, music publisher John Truelove, Planet Mu label manager Thomas Quaye and Sean Robinson who looks after the label and management interests of The Japanese Popstars.

The agenda was that loose, it was practically non-existent but I guess we wanted to explore opportunities where anyone involved in the sector can make money and develop their career, by looking at the perception of the music industry versus the reality. It didn't take long for the dreaded 'D' word to rear it's ugly head with Downloading and the affect it's had on the industry obviously a hot topic for everyone there. Paul Woolford dived straight in  with comparisons of record sales in 2010 with what they were back in 2002 when he scored a massive hit with Erotic Discourse which shifted in excess of 20'000 copies. Sean Robinson added that these days, selling 200 copies can get you a number track on the likes of Beatport-which perfectly illustrated the perception versus reality perfectly, where it's assumed because you have a number one hit you have shifted thousands of copies.

Richard McGinnis who runs Chibuku, Creamfields and Warehouse Project to name a few, discussed how DJs can break through the ranks to secure a spot on one of his line-ups. While they general consensus was that a DJ needs also to be a producer to make it through these days, he pointed to Yousef as a case in point of someone who started of DJing well before he began Djing. Rich also spoke about how his clubs were instrumental in the north-west of England in bringing Dubstep from the back-room to the main-room at a time when he could book Skream and Benga for £200 and had David Guetta's manager contacting him offering him DJ sets for free without any expenses.

There was advice on how to make your demos stand out from the crowd in an industry where everyone wants a piece of your time - personalize your emails, do your homework and find a contact at the label, obtain feedback  quotes from recognized figures in the industry that will catch the eye of the A&R guy and above all be patient and know your market.

There was advice on how to build relationships and networks with labels, promoters, producers and the media - hang out at the local club you want to play in, send feedback to labels you love to let them know you are playing their records, and avoid spamming people.

Visibility was a word that popped up on more than one occasion in reference to the ideas on how to increase your profile - with the concept of 'it's not what you do, it's what you don't do'  thrown in there in reference to building allegiances with the right people you want to work with.

We had 60 minutes of discussion followed by nearly another hour of Q&A from the audience who wasted no time in picking the brains of the expert panel. Overall, it was a hugely worthwhile exercise and the kind of thing that needs to happen more often to give people a bit of focus, inspiration and motivation to pursue their dreams  and in a sector of the industry where closed-doors are perceived to be the norm, it was refreshing to see such lively interaction from a great panel who gave a valuable insight into how each of their respective areas operates.

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