Focus Festival - New Bands Showcase
There's a lot of talk at this time of year of big international showcases where bands try to ply their wares to booking agents, press agencies, promoters, managers, record labels, and other international layers of the music industry.
Festivals such as Eurosonic in Groningen, and SXSW in Texas in particular have had a bit of press and media attention in recent years, and many bands from Wales have benefited from playing at the events.
A bit closer to home, we have just such a showcase on the streets of Wrexham, to rival UK events like Brighton's Great Escape, and Manchester's In the City. For new bands, these industry showcases crossed with a big street festival are a great way to get noticed by a large number of people.
Focus Festival will be held in Wrexham in April this year, and if you're in a new band there's still time to get your application in. I caught up with Neal from Focus to find out a bit more about what they've got planned for the event this year.
Hi Neal. You've announced the first batch of bands for the event this year? Who's confirmed so far?
"Early announcements include The Whip, Y Niwl, Cuba Cuba, Gallops, Jamie Smith's Mabon, Sion Russell Jones, The Roseville Band, Andy Hickie and our international acts include MOJA (Japan), Bonfire Nights(Australia), and Holly McGarry (USA), with many more announcements on the way."
Focus Wales crowd
What is Focus Wales? How does it differ from other festivals?
"Focus Wales is a three day Music Festival & Conference held at multiple venues in Wrexham, North Wales, UK, and will take place over the weekend of the 19, 20 and 21 April, 2012.
"The festival will showcase live performances from a collection of the very best in music of Welsh origin throughout weekend, including special guest headliners, and selected International acts - alongside music industry panels and discussions, featuring experts from all sectors of the music industry. In the mould of Liverpool Sound City or SXSW we want Focus to be the main showcase for new music from Wales."
How is the event growing year on year?
"This year, with the help of our partners Arts Council of Wales and PRS for Music Foundation, we've been able to increase the number of venues used significantly and we've almost doubled the number of live acts performing at the festival - more than 40 in 2011 to over 70 in 2012)."
What was the idea in the first place - is it specifically to service north Wales with some new music action?
"No - we want to represent what the whole of Wales has to offer. We have all genres of music being produced here in Wales, and we aim to showcase this at the festival."
There's still time for bands to get involved in the event. Why would you encourage them to do so and what do they stand to benefit?
"Yes, there's still time for acts to submit at www.sonicbids.com/focuswales.
"New music makers benefit from not only the opportunity to perform alongside a collection of the best new acts that the nation has to offer, alongside some fantastic International acts, but will also benefit from the opportunity to network with a variety of guest music industry delegates.
"Delegates from every sector of the music industry will be attending the festival as part of our industry seminars and discussions. These networking events offer the opportunity for new music makers to meet face to face, and discuss with delegates who can make a real impact on their careers."
Where is Focus going to be based this year, and what makes small venues such a great place to see new bands?
"No changes but a few additions - we'll be using the fantastic Central Station again as one of our main venues alongside its sister venue South Central, the new creative industries centre at Glyndŵr University and the awe inspiring Parish Church of St. Giles, plus a few more.
"The great thing is all of the venues we're using have a unique character, and we've tried to reflect that with the shows that we've placed in each space - more on this will be revealed as we announce the individual billings."
The other side of the conference is the talks. Are any themes and speakers agreed yet?
"The discussion topics will cover a range of issues effecting new music makers working in the music industry today. Our guest speakers will be announced over the coming weeks at our website."
What success stories - either new business or new bands - have come out of Focus so far?
"We had some great acts perform at Focus Wales in 2011, who've since gone on to have great years; such as Aerials Up, and The Roseville Band, who've both since had successful releases, and both were invited to perform at Canadian Music Week 2012 - which is a fantastic opportunity for them to take their music abroad.
"Also, Swedish troubadour I'm Kingfisher made strong links with Welsh acts following last years' festival, with a host of Welsh acts collaborating with I'm Kingfisher on his return to the UK for his tour last autumn.
"Plans are now being made for these Welsh acts to tour Scandinavia with I'm Kingfisher in return, which is a great result, and a fantastic example of the potential benefits of networking at a festival such as ours."
What are all the web links for people to get in touch with you regarding the event this year?/p>
And the all important dates, and location?
"19, 20 and 21 April in various venues in the centre of Wrexham, North Wales. See the website for details."