Here’s what you can expect at FastForward Sydney this week
“We had a fantastic time last year, there was a lot of appetite from the industry, and we thought it would be crazy not to give Sydney a second go.”
When Chris Carey, founder of the boutique conference for the next generation of music & tech leaders, first brought FastForward out of Europe, he had high expectations for the Aussies.
The thing he enjoyed most, he says, was that Sydney had the same friendly collaborative spirit shown in its sessions in London and Amsterdam.
People wanted to learn from each other, and to meet each other and talk.
It wasn’t like some conferences where people were afraid to introduce themselves to someone during lunch-time and chat.
Carey points out, “It was a very forward-thinking crowd, and dynamic, so you were going to have some interesting conversations and rub shoulders with some interesting people.
“It’s again going to be an interesting few days.”
Two key changes have been made in 2019.
A co-working space with tables, wifi and sockets allows people to keep in touch with their offices during the two days.
Secondly, there is only one room of content for the event.
“The reaction from Amsterdam this year was that people were very pleased not to have a choice.
“It also adds to everybody being on the same page and keeps the group dynamic.”
Q: In which ways did you think FF Sydney was a success?
A: “Threefold. The speakers on the stage were outstanding.
“The quality of what was said, the candour and the honesty, so people could learn.
“Thirdly, the people in the room, the calibre of the people who sat there for two days listening and learning, was a strong part of the event as well.
“A lot of great questions were asked, and there were a lot of people who know a lot but were still willing to learn.
Q: What impressed you about the Australian market?
A: “I like the innovation that takes place.
“Australia is naturally somewhat detached from the rest of the world.
“But because of its isolation, it innovates in a way that many European markets do not.
“I enjoy that freedom, it’s one of the most exciting things about being here.”
Q: What are you most excited about this year?
A: “I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Beth Appleton (general manager & SVP marketing Australasia, Warner Music) speak about being local in a global industry.
“That is going to be particularly telling to an Australian audience.
“The nature of the global release date means that Australians get every release first.
“In the global plan, Australia hasn’t got the priority that, say, the US has, so you’re fighting for internal attention to make Australia as important.
“Heidi Lenffer of Cloud Control is developing a mechanism for artists to offset the carbon footprint.
“I won’t say much more because I don’t want to steal her thunder.
“But what’s she’s been working on has been fantastic, and I’m looking forward to hearing her speak in more detail in FF this week.”
Q: Again, that has a global resonance, right, because she’s adding a solution to a global problem?
A: “100 per cent! You’ll find that many of the questions that the Australians are asking are global ones.”
Q: What approach will the playlist panel take?
A: “It’s designed to talk about what’s good about playlists – but also be honest about what’s bad about playlists, what works and what doesn’t.
“It’ll be an honest conversation about the flaws in a growing culture.
“Like, do you know artists names these days? And if not, does it matter? If casual consumers are listening to more music that’s good for the industry overall.
“I’m sure quotas for Aussie artists will come up too.”
Q: What was brought up about the future of the music industry during this year’s Amsterdam’s meet in February?
A: “We looked a lot around the culture of festivals and festival attendance, whether music alone can drive people to them.
“Does there need to be music plus fashion, music plus culture, or is music alone enough?
“That conversation was so interesting that we brought it out to Sydney.
“Same thing with the playlist panel, because that conversation is ever evolving and an important one to be had.
“Rafe Offer, co-founder and CEO of Sofar Sounds was talking about building a global brand.
“That was a fascinating conversation on how you empower volunteers to build your brand.
“Influencing staff is one thing but getting volunteers on board with a passion to add to it is fantastic.”
Q: The mini keynotes are wider this year.
A: “There’ll be Live Nation on the power of live, not just for fans but for brands as well.
“We have a 15-minute session on the future of classical music, the fastest growing genre in the world last year, and what voice activation means to the music industry.
“On the other end of the spectrum is how life changed for a CEO when they become a parent.
“These cultural conversations need to happen, especially for those of us who haven’t been on that ride yet, so we can be a bit more understanding of the pressure of parenthood, so we can be of bigger help in a collaborative industry.”
Q: Are networking meetings equally as important as absorbing knowledge at a conference like FF?
A: “Networking is where the work gets done.
“You can learn a lot from the stage and put it into practice.
“There is a high impact outcome from FastForward, especially from two people who haven’t met before and realise they should have met years before.
“One example from our very first Amsterdam event. Island Records were there. A large e-sport company was presenting on the future of gaming.
“They had a coffee afterwards and they did a deal. Island now supplies the music for all their live entertainment at all their events.
“Networking unlocks opportunities.”
Q: What deals came out of the first FF Sydney?
A: “Certainly some relationships formed and good things came from that.
“But I’m not sure what I can specifically say about those for confidential reasons!”