Internationally renowned author and speaker, Richard Gerver, presents 'Minding Your Own Business - How To Be Successful In Today’s Changing Music Industry' at Gate One Theatre, Claremont Showgrounds, on Saturday, June 10, presented by Around The Sound and WAM.
The bridge between art and commerce has always been a difficult one to negotiate for many musicians – that’s why they have managers.
However, in an ever-changing music industry many artists have to self-manage and even managers need to reappraise what that role now entails. There’s no gain in music industry personnel having an aversion to the words ‘entrepreneur’ or ‘entrepreneurial’.
“I think they worry that the words are in conflict with their art and the creativity of it,” says noted author and speaker, Richard Gerver. “For me, entrepreneurship is a mindset that is based on the ability to identify opportunities and find pathways to achieve them. It is all about creativity, problem-solving, courage and resilience.”
The old music industry and record company systems that existed for so long are themselves long gone. While some musicians and managers appear to be hoping for a new normal, Gerver advises that it’s wiser to have some confidence and embrace the landscape as it is, even at a time when the goalposts seem to change every other week.
“Times of change invoke a mix of reactions,” he explains. “For most, though, the feeling is one of losing control and therefore our reflex is to try and return to a stable, safer time. This leads to us always reacting, which means that we are always behind the curve. The rate of change is exponential and therefore hoping that it will slow or that we can secure a new normal is the stuff of a former age.
“We need to create our own culture of action research, where we constantly challenge and reflect on our own behaviours and practices. The music industry as a whole was very, very slow to react to the digital revolution. In order to thrive rather than just to survive, we need to apply the same courage, creativity and curiosity to the industry as we do to the music itself.”
Gerver worked for many years as a teacher (and eventually a school principal) before becoming an author and speaker in the education sector, specialising in positive change and self-leadership and then bringing that knowledge to a variety of industries. Eventually the music biz came a’ calling.
“I was contacted by some people at labels in London who had read my second book, Change,” Gerver recalls. “One of them had picked it up at an airport book shop and luckily, loved it. As a result, they gave copies to all of their industry mates as a Christmas present. Eventually they connected with me via social media and the next thing I knew, I was 'hanging' with the big guns at an overpriced London eatery where everyone was way too cool for me.”
The long lunch was attended by the President of Capitol UK, Nick Raphael, as well as honchos from labels such as Decca and Universal. Gerver has long since solidified his work with those entities, as well as major artists such as Jay-Z and Sam Smith. Who then, does he feel are the best examples of artists and managers who have embraced and evolved (within) the changing tide of the music industry?
“I’ll share some of my favourite examples when we meet,” he says diplomatically, “but I think that the key shift is the move towards artists breaking free of the control of labels in order to allow audiences to curate music for themselves.”
As for Saturday evening’s Around The Sound and WAM-presented event, we’re confident that there’ll be much for attendees to take home.
“I want to share my passions for change, success and simplicity,” Gerver concludes. “I would love to think that my input could inspire people to seize opportunity, take control and commit to action.
“I also hope we have a bloody good laugh and a couple of beers.”
See? He does know what he’s talking about.
'Around The Sound and WAM - Celebration Of The WA Music Industry' Richard Gerver's presentation followed by a Q+A then performances from Imperials, Lionizer and Jaime Page's Dark Universe. Tickets are $17.50 available here.
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