Networking at music industry export events

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Chapter 3 discusses the role of music entrepreneurs and their export strategies in order to be export ready. It was shown in Chapter 3 that, in order to manage risk, the ability to network is an important skill. These networks are defined by roles and relationships which can be peer to peer, contractual, professional, community-based, coimnercial, familial or fan-based. In this chapter we discuss networks in the music export environment of an international music industry event. International market events are a hotbed for networking and gatekeeping. There are many more international market events now; each has become successful in finding its own niche audiences and industry sectors.

This chapter continues with previous references to the interviews with managers and data from the two survey designs discussed in Chapter 1: The Sounds Australia surveys, and the Export Strategies survey. In the Sounds Australia surveys, participants were asked about their experience of a music industry event and opportunities achieved. The events that those interviewed attended were Music Matters, Singapore; Primavera, Spain; Folk Alliance, US; Canadian Music Week (CMW), Canada; Americanafest, US; CMJ, US; MIDEM, France; Reeperbahn, Germany; A2IM, US; Showcase Scotland, UK; Liverpool Sound. UK; The Great Escape, UK; and SXSW, US. The Export Strategy Survey investigated the viability of the participants’ music export strategies and allowed us to follow up on the responses obtained from the earlier Sounds Australia survey. There are many types of market events based on different music genres (Americana, Folk Alliance, Classical Next, Jazzahead, Amsterdam Dance Event). “These national and international industry events are valuable for learning and keeping abreast with changes in the industry, as a good snapshot of what’s happening around the world” (Interview 2, 2018).

Knowing your networks

A network is defined as “goal-directed behaviour which occurs both inside and outside of an organisation, focussed on creating, cultivating, and utilising interpersonal relationships” (Gibson et al., 2014, p. 146). Movement between these networks is veiy fluid, relies on personal relationships and often involves a clear demarcation of roles. To varying degrees, professional networking events are based on proximity and similarity (Reagans, 2011, p. 835). Proximity can be physical (for example the same room), virtual (social platforms) or defined kinship (cousin or sibling, etc). Similarity, for example, can be based on coimnon likes, professional interests, working for the same organisation or a common education background.

Bourdieu’s forms of capital and their conversion provide a useful backdrop to the value of networks (Bourdieu, 1986). In his famous essay, “The Forms of Capital” (1986), Bourdieu writes that economic capital can be created and transformed from “cultural” and “social” capital as a result of socialisation and class. For Bourdieu, “social capital” is a “credential” referring to the “actual or potential resources which are linked to possession of a durable network of more or less institutionalised relationships of mutual acquaintance and recognition - in other- words, membership to a group” (Bourdieu, 1986, p. 249). Conversely, cultural and social capital can be transformed into economic capital. It is here that networks play an important role. Someone with a good reputation, and who is very connected, obviously has high social capital in contrast to a newcomer with no experience or professional relationships. Cultural capital operates on a symbolic level. Bourdieu (ibid., p. 244) identifies three states of cultural capital: “embodied” (being, disposition), “objectified” (goods) and “institutionalised” (qualifications or association with an organisation). Both social and cultural capital play an important role in the music industry in which risk and trust are important drivers (see Chapter 3).

In contrast to traditional linear value chains in which value is added by each participant along the chain, networks disrupt this linearity through their ability for nonlinearity of communication. Their value is informed by opportunity, cocreation, access to information and relationships made through strong and weak ties. Strong ties relate to "frequent, local interactions (and that are relatively more probable to cover a short distance” (Lizardo, 2006, p. 782), connecting people with similar goals and interests. Weak ties are “relatively infrequent extra-local interactions (... more likely to span a larger distance ... connecting people to dissimilar others” (ibid., p. 782). These ties are not fixed in that they are open to change due to the comings and goings of participants.

Luckily, when I was on that trip, other people travelling with me were promoters for music festivals, and they would hook me up with their booking agent friends. So, outside of the acmal trade show itself, I just went over and did trips and met people in the industry, and sat down and spoke to them, and told them about who I was and what I was doing.

(Interview 2, 2018)

While strong ties enable actors within a network to exchange and capitalise on information to consolidate their position and status, Ко and Butler (2007) argue that weak ties are important, as occasionality or chance interactions enable new inputs from “outsiders”. This helps avoid communication and interaction between like-minded actors where regularity can cause sameness, convention or a “closed shop”.

Zwaan et al. (2010, p. 18) found that “the most successful pop musicians had the best professional network whereas ... relatively unsuccessful pop musicians had the smallest network”. For the creative industries worker, networks support knowledge, creative energy, industry development, help find new employment opportunities and manage job insecurity (Felton et al., 2010). They provide continuity, are defined by relationships and underpinned by trust. Just as organisations rely on trust, the quasi-institutional nature of networks makes them similar to organisations.

Networks can be complex structures due to their extent of influence, density (participants’ connectivity) and centrality (who knows whom) (Aldrich and Zimmer, 1986, p. 13). The professional networks observed at international industry events, discussed later in this chapter, demonstrate these three components. As well as being based on location and similarity, there is a complex mix of values including financial interests and transactions, a participant's reputation, knowledge sharing, goodwill and advocacy. Opportunities can be had in these dynamic environments. Participants become co-creative in sharing values, resulting in value adding on what they already have or know (Lusch and Vargo, 2006).

Lee (2014, p. 141) identifies three factors that define a vibrant professional network culture: A large number of connections to enable the flow of information, key individuals to facilitate information transfer by establishing new connections and the presence of knowledge experts. All networks represent a particular type of transaction in which values are exchanged. These value exchanges create flows which in turn can lead to wealth and opportunity. That wealth can be financial (revenue streams) or non-financial (cultural enrichment, knowledge or reputation building). This is reinforced in our interviews with artist managers. For many music entrepreneurs, networks are the most important factor in developing a suc- cessfiil expoxt strategy. Networks create opportunities for partnerships, establishing deals, building on opportunities and increasing knowledge of current industry trends.

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