Glasgow & West Scotland

The backstage deals being struck at Celtic Connections

fiddle Image copyright Thinkstock

The Celtic Connections festival draws to a close this weekend and while there's bound to be reflection on the music and performances there has also been significant business done too, worth about £2.2m for the artists involved.

Within the wider festival, the five-day Showcase Scotland event gives a platform to about 60 Scottish musicians and bands to perform in front of promoters, record labels, bookers and festival organisers from around the world.

"Every, single minute is packed full of one-on-one meetings," says Lisa Whytock, Showcase Scotland producer.

About 180 delegates - from as far afield as Australia and Canada - are invited to attend, network and encouraged to book a couple of Scottish or Scottish-based musicians or bands.

Ms Whytock says the line-up consists of "export ready artists".

Image caption Lisa Whytock produces the Showcase Scotland event

"Deliberately we only have 180 places available for the festivals and bookers," she continues.

"We want to make sure that business is done, they really must book our artists otherwise what's the point in doing the event. It's about making sure that Scotland and its music is booked by the world."

One of the bands taking part is the contemporary folk group, Rura. They have been involved in the event before and found it useful for understanding how the whole business works.

"It's really getting to know all the different agents and bookers and promoters," says David Foley, who plays bodhrán and flute in the band.

"Even though you'd meet someone one year and you wouldn't get anything out of it, you're building a relationship, that's why this weekend is so important for the Scottish folk scene and bands like us."

Part of Showcase Scotland is a trade fair. During it, an upstairs part of the Glasgow Royal Concert Hall is given over to stalls representing bands, musicians and other agencies. There are people chatting, meetings being snatched in corners, deals being done.

"Our music is very strong and it's an international brand," says Ian Smith, head of music at Creative Scotland. He thinks the event has surpassed official figures and is now worth nearer £3m in artist bookings.

Image copyright Rura
Image caption Folk group Rura say the festival is important for building relationships

He spends the event talking to people who want to know more or book artists and the fact of the trade fair taking place means that the process of putting bands and buyers together is streamlined.

"It's good that you can do that business very, very quickly and that's why they're here." says Mr Smith.

Each year the event has an international partner whose musicians are also featured. This year, that country is France. A previous partner country was Australia.

"Over the course of these five days I try to see as much music as I can and meet as many folks as I can to increase the chances of great music from Scotland heading our way," says Chloe Goodyear, head of programming at Australia's Woodward Folk Festival.

"Being able to see music that's exportable in its natural environment and not in a conference environment is a real treat - it's the way it should be done."