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NXT Features
26 April 2018
Liverpool Sound City, which returns to its multi-venue city centre format this year, has become a vital part of the live music networking schedule thanks to over a decade of hard work. Rob Sandall finds out what to expect

Over the course of 11 years, Liverpool Sound City (LSC) has established itself as a must-attend event on the industry networking calendar.

David Pichilingi

Building a loyal following thanks to a focus on acts from the North and making use of multiple unique spaces and venues within the city, LSC – running from 4-6 May – is on course to be as successful as ever, although as founder David Pichilingi points out, hopefully a little less eventful.

“Last year was unexpectedly difficult, to be honest – the first day of our event was three days after the Manchester bombing, which changed everything significantly,” he says.

“Understandably, scrutinising security was absolutely vital in terms of keeping people safe and prepared in case of any incidents, but it added extra stress to the logistics.”

Speaking of logistics, Pichilingi reveals that this year the event will return to the multi-venue city format, spread across anything from less-traditional performances in churches and car parks to veteran venues including Constellations (cap. 500), Camp and Furnace (580, 960), Hangar 34 (1,000) and District (400).

“In 2017 the conference was in the north of the city, whereas the shows were in the docks, and it felt a little detached, like it was two separate events rather than one cohesive idea,” he says.

“We’re back in the city venues this year, which makes the overall weekend far more joined-up for delegates who want to take part in the conference, network with each other and check out various acts simultaneously.”

He adds that while last year’s efforts couldn’t be faulted in terms of ambitions, this time around it’s all about focusing on their strongest asset – local talent.

“We were huge last year, running across four days, with 25,000 people attending in total and 250 acts up on stage,” says Pichilingi.

“It was great to put on something so big, of course, but I think this year we’ve been keen to make sure we’re doubling down on the elements of LSC that make us unique.

“Specifically that’s finding and championing acts from the North of the country. Last year saw a broad spread internationally and some serious headline acts too.

“While that will still be a factor, we’re keen to turn additional focus to Northern acts and make sure the region as a whole is getting proportionally higher representation against other national and international acts.”

More than 150 acts will take to the stage, including Black Honey, Picture this and DMA’s, who will be received by not only the music loving public but numerous industry professionals, both fresh to the scene and old hands.

“As before, we’ll be looking at around 1,500 delegates – they’re a pretty loyal following we’ve built up over the years,” says Pichilingi.

“That includes everyone from the established industry veterans to new faces from the various university music business programs across the country. We must have more than 100 now, who are attending as part of the various courses they’re taking.”

Pushing for prominence

Kelly Munro

Kelly Munro of End of the Trail, a UK-based label and management service, is quick to note that LSC is one of the vital annual opportunities for those in the industry.

“It’s basically one of the big three on the UK calendar,” he says.

“In terms of that level of networking, my year is basically LSC, The Great Escape (TGE) and Focus Wales, and then SXSW and Eurosonic for overseas opportunities.

“LSC being back in the city itself this year as opposed to by the docks means it’s even more of that TGE atmosphere although of course not quite as huge, which is beneficial for getting around easily.”

This will be Munro’s third year, and while he’s always made good use of the networking potential that the event provides, 2018 should prove particularly interesting.

“This year we’re doing our own stage – acts we represent and have on our label, plus a few additional artistes that we rate or who are friends,” he says.

“It’s ideal to have acts on at an event like this so you can make new connections and tout their shows.

“Normally once everyone’s a couple of pints in you can persuade a crowd to come and see an artiste or two and it’s incredibly good for exposure.”

Return business

Jess Nash

Jess Nash, marketing and sync manager for Budde Music, has personal reasons for visiting LSC.

“I actually went to university in Liverpool and worked for the Sound City team while I was there – I learned a lot and started to build a network,” she says.

“So on the one hand I go back to see old friends, and because Liverpool itself is a lovely city, but also because it’s a really good opportunity to attend the conference, network and see new acts.”

Regarding the latter, Nash adds that showcases like this one are still one of the best opportunities that acts can have of being spotted by the wider industry.

“I think that the size of the event means that it’s really easy to get around the various venues and see a lot of acts in one trip,” she says.

“That’s in comparison to London, for instance, which is so vast. It makes Sound City a great place to appreciate that new music.”

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