Photo: UK artist King Charles’ midem 2010 participation was supported by PRS for Music. His Hollywood-recorded debut album is to be released this summer.
midemblog: What would you say are the best ways for a nationally-successful British artist to seek funding for overseas development?
Laura Whitticase: First of all, you need to apply to British Music Abroad through the PRS for Music Foundation website – it’s a single application form, within which we are looking for a solid business case as to why you are going; who you will meet with, e.g. labels, publishers, agents, etc; and any evidence of substantial interest generated in your chosen territory. In addition to this, we want to see evidence that you have confirmed meetings in place, rather than hoping to catch people at the show and that there are people interested in seeing the band play. We can cover up to 75% of costs towards flights, accommodation and visas for those performing.
> How is this domain evolving right now? Are there more, or less funds available?
There is the same amount of funding available through British Music Abroad as there always has been, more or less. However, what we are noticing now is that there is less money available to artists (especially those in development) from their labels and publishers to pay for this kind of activity. We have seen a big rise in applications from artists who have deals with major labels as well as those on independents, which is definitely new. Unfortunately our resource has not increased with the rise in demand, which makes for a very competitive programme.
> How effective are events like midem or SXSW for furthering artists’ international careers?
They can be golden, if exploited in the right way. If an act is really export-ready and puts the work in before they go, we see tangible positive results time and time again. These results can include signing deals with labels and publishers, gaining agents, or many other benefits. However, I can’t stress enough the importance of being ready. You need to have had a strong dialogue with any interested parties for at least three months before you go if you want to make the most of it. If your chosen showcase is in March, make sure you are in discussions with people in December/January at the very least. Also, make sure that you tie people down to actual meetings when you’re out there. If you don’t have anything confirmed then there is a high chance that you will come away empty handed…
> What other means are effective?
I think these days artists need to be more business-minded than ever before. With the ways that people discover and consume music today, you need to be extra savvy on how to market yourself and to get yourself noticed. Ensure that you connect with people through all online social media, and I don’t just mean Facebook and Twitter…
The best way to build profile is by trying to get yourself onto the blogs and tastemaker sites that people go crazy for. It is also a good idea to make sure that you have a Bandcamp or Soundcloud, or both, to ensure that people can access your music easily and exploit the other channels of getting your name out there. There are lots of great companies that have been growing in relevance and profile that are specifically geared around emerging talent (such as Music Dealers; Pledge Music; etc). It’s no longer good enough to rely on your MySpace page…
> Is international development more difficult for DIY Artists/artists without labels? What advantages do they have over signed ones?
I think that artists are more on a level playing field these days because of the stuff aforementioned.
With music being so accessible now, to an extent, people can take control of their own development and careers. This means that potentially, there’s no reason why they wouldn’t do as well as an act on a major label. Of course, money is always going to be an issue here, but if you are proactive in building and taking advantage of meaningful contacts in the industry, then I would say that DIY artists can do really well internationally. Aside from the obvious requirement of actually making great music, if you put all the right effort in, then the possibility to well overseas is a reality.
Especially if you make the most of services available through companies such as PRSF; British Underground (a specialist in showcasing independent artists overseas); UK Trade and Investment and other development agencies out there. We can generally all help with providing practical advice on how to maximise your trip overseas. I would definitely advocate a manager though. Even if she/he is a member of the band. Someone with good contacts and a savvy business head is worth their weight in gold.
Whitticase is accepting funding requests to help British artists attend midem 2013 already! Hit that link up right now!