“We’re living through another Manchester renaissance, there’s a desire for something big to happen”

Beyond the Music Festival is just around the corner, and it promises to be something special.

This revolutionary event is a bold new idea that aims to redefine the music industry’s place in the new cultural economy by bringing together the best and brightest minds in tech, AV, gaming, brands, content creators, and more to build a creative alliance for the future.

For three whole days, artists, entrepreneurs, creatives, and music industry professionals will come together to connect with funders, businesses, and organisations, all with one mission in mind – to make music better than ever before.

Beyond the Music isn’t just about enjoying live music, it’s also a forum for discussions, decision-making, and inspiring speeches too.

At the heart of Beyond The Music will be four days of live music by the most exciting new and established artists from around the world, alongside a series of conferences exploring The Past, The Present, The Future and The Summit, identifying everything from the entrepreneurs who have aided in defining Manchester’s music DNA to the new wave, the right to sustainability, ownership and equality within the industry, and how to find music’s place within the new cultural economy of tech, gaming, branding and film & TV.

And the best part? Beyond the Music is a cooperative festival, which means everyone attending the conference owns a part of it, and has a say in their output.

With a focus on producing innovative models for the future, this festival is all about looking forward to a brighter future.

So get ready to unite on a global scale because Beyond the Music aims to deliver an international strategy for music through meaningful debate and necessary decision-making. The future of music is looking brighter than ever before, and we can’t wait to see what’s in store!

Beyond The Music is founded by the promoter and social enterprise founder Oli Wilson, working alongside BTM Director Sarah Pearson, Founder of Wasted Youth Music, and Chair Rose Marley, CEO of Co-Operatives UK, and a committee that includes Michael Adex, CEO of NQ, and Jane Beese Director of Music, MIF / Factory International. With Beyond The Music, Oli Wilson intends to build upon the foundations laid by his father Tony Wilson, a broadcaster, journalist and creator of Factory Records and the Hacienda nightclub, responsible for some of the world’s greatest music.

I Love Manchester sat down with Festival Creator, Oli Wilson, to talk about his vision for Beyond the Music.

What inspired you to launch Beyond The Music and what is your vision for the festival?

“It all started with a demand from the music industry, which felt there was a need for a forum to discuss what was happening in the music industry and what the future holds.

“There was a sense that the city was going through a renaissance, with a thriving music scene and a desire for something big to happen.

“My goal is to create something truly amazing in Manchester, one that showcases the city’s strengths and provides opportunities for all. We’ve been doing roundtables with major labels and industry professionals to gain backing and support, and we’re well on our way to making this a reality.

“Ultimately, I hope this festival will be a platform for Manchester on the world stage, showcasing all the amazing things happening here and fostering a new age of creativity and innovation.”

So, what will make it different from other Music festivals?

There are two interesting points to highlight. Firstly, we are forming as a cooperative that will be collectively owned and democratically controlled. Secondly, everyone attending the event will be an integral part of it.

It’s not really a conference, it’s a change making event, with an integrated decision making structure at its core.

Beyond will be a force for positive change and social justice in the music industry.

To achieve this, as part of the co-operative structure, the event will culminate in a summit on the final day where we create strategic actions addressing the issues we face in the music industry.

This approach is unprecedented in the world of music and film.

We are not solely focused on music but rather on the broader cultural economy, including areas like tech, gaming, and content. The government also plays a significant role in this space, and we aim to cover all of these areas in our conference. Furthermore, our unique selling point is the social activities we offer.

For instance, we have implemented a pay-it-forward system where major labels purchase additional tickets that anyone can apply for, ensuring that the conference is open and accessible to all, including those in Manchester.

We have three social programs that are not part of the conference and will be happening all year round.

One of these programs is aimed at schools, where we will conduct a series of workshops to teach kids about various aspects of the music industry, including job roles, starting a business, and going overseas, among other topics.

We are also running a legacy project aimed at young people slightly older than those in school or their twenties. This program will support ten individuals each year from across Greater Manchester in pursuing their careers in music and the arts. The project will be backed by major labels and will offer opportunities for internships, job placements, and mentorship by industry leaders.

The Live Live Project is another initiative that supports grassroots venues around Greater Manchester. Our goal is to create a fringe touring circuit around Greater Manchester so that bands don’t always have to play in the same venues in town, which will also make music more accessible and diverse to a wider section of our community.

We’re also organising a festival that will take place across the Northern Quarter, which will have nearly 200 artist slots. 75% of the music will be new, and 25% will be something you may have heard before. We’re still in the process of announcing our first raft of artists, but we’re encouraging artists, promoters, labels and managers to send us demos and music that they want to play.

If you’re a label or a managing company or anyone working in the music industry, anywhere in England but particularly in Greater Manchester and the North, and you want to be involved, you can get in touch with us through our website. We want to platform new artists and promoters.

What challenges do you think the music industry is currently facing, and how will Beyond The Music address these challenges?

The biggest challenge facing the music industry is that it currently prioritises companies over artists, and this needs to change.

While certain companies make huge profits, it’s almost impossible for artists to make a living. This calls for new business models and ways of doing things, which are being developed through Web 3 decentralised platforms and blockchain technology.

The music industry needs to redefine its relationship with artists and consider the artist’s perspectives. It’s important to define the new role of artists in the new cultural economy, which will look very different from the traditional record label model. This is a transitional period for the music industry, the cultural economy, and the artists within it.

Change is inevitable for the music industry, which has recently witnessed a huge decline in the UK due to the pandemic and Brexit. The music industry also faces questions from technological changes.

How important do you think Manchester’s musical heritage is to the success of Beyond The Music, and how will you incorporate that heritage into the festival?

So regarding the conference side of things, it’s not just about the legacy of the music in Manchester, but also about the city’s legacy as a place of innovation and change, which is probably just as big, if not even a bigger influence on our plans. On the festival side, Manchester is known globally as the music city and we want to re-align ourselves with that reputation.

Bottom line is people love to party in Manchester and we are going to throw one hell of a party, so the festival fits perfectly with what’s happening in Manchester at the moment.

As for anything else, you should know, make sure to register on their website and they will be announcing their first few weeks soon.

Tickets have already started selling, even though the lineup hasn’t been announced yet. The festival is currently based in Northern Quarter, but the long-term plan is to expand to other parts of town over the next three years, with midtown and the Oxford Road corridor being added in year two and year three, respectively.

Can you sum up your long-term vision for the festival?

I think this experiment is going to be tough because we’re starting as a cooperative and asking people to become members.

Ultimately this is an experiment – people might not want to join the co-operative, it might fall flat on it’s face – but we don’t think that will happen and in 10 years time I hope we’ll be a strong co-operative changing the face of culture, bringing the music industry together and creating loads of amazing opportunities and experiences for the people of Manchester.

The festival will take place from the 11th to the 14th of Cctober 2023, in venues across Manchester.

First wave tickets for the first edition of Beyond The Music are available  at an exclusive price for a limited time at £30 per day / £90 for 3 days for festival goers, and £200 for conference & festival delegate passes.

The festival has also launched a Pay It Forward option in order to maximise accessibility for those facing financial difficulties.

Tickets are available here.


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