Music professionals from industry and education are gearing up for Birmingham’s Gigbeth 2008 music industry conference which aims to forge links between the two fields.

The conference, at the Radisson SAS hotel on Thursday, November 6, runs alongside Birmingham’s biggest music festival, Gigbeth.

It will include seminars, talks and debates on topics affecting the modern music industry centred around three key themes – music education and industry, promoting music and music law and IP.

Gigbeth organiser Clare Edwards said the Gigbeth conference aims to get two different parts of the music world talking – the music education sector and the music industry.

“We pitch discussions and debates that are mutually interesting and the feedback we get is the opportunities for networking are really good. That’s the aim of the conference, I thought if we get these two talking to each other, we can get good things happening.”

Every year Gigbeth books a keynote speaker from the city and this year it is Fyfe Dangerfield from Guillemots talking about his experience as a successful musician and the role he feels music education played in his career.

There will also be special seminars headed by successful contemporary artists including British alto jazz saxophonist Soweto Kinch who will give a seminar entitled War In A Rack, exploring techniques for musicians to get noticed in today’s crowded marketplace.

Instead of a delivering a straightforward speech, Fyfe Dangerfield will be interviewed by Radio 2 presenter Janice Long.

“We wanted to do an interview with the keynote speaker so it doesn’t just feel like it’s someone talking at you,” said Ms Edwards, “It’s like that through the whole conference – I banned PowerPoint from the outset. It’s more about having discussions with delegates – it’s much more hands-on.”

The ethos of connecting people in different parts of the music industry spills into the festival itself, which brings together promoters across the city active in diverse musical genres.

“I work with a whole range of different promoters in the city to try to bring them together and get them to do something a bit more ambitious than they would normally,” added Ms Edwards. “It’s about how we improve things for ourselves and how we make more noise for Birmingham

“A lot of people talk about raising the profile of the city and that’s all they do, talk about it. Gigbeth is more than just a talking shop. We want to get the delegates coming to the conference not just talking but we want to expose them to the amazing stuff going on in the city.

“When I meet people from outside the city, they don’t realise what we have going on here. I have to explain Birmingham has such a vast array of different kinds of music. The fact Birmingham has lots of niches makes it harder to sell. We’ve got the home of bhangra on one hand, but also things like reggae in the 80s, new hip-hop and people like Soweto Kinch.

“We’ve got these amazing people so we are thinking about how we can tell the story collectively and with Gigbeth we try to put these things into one place so people can see that collective.”

As well as organising the conference and festival, Clare has been working behind the scenes to secure funding to ensure Gigbeth is not just confined to a couple of days activity in November.

The Gigbeth organisers have a two-year development work programme to put on seminars every month aimed at music industry businesses such as venues, promoters and record labels.

“It’s about how they can better promote themselves.

“We bring in experts from both inside and outside Birmingham so people can exchange information and see how other people are doing things.”