26 June 2010

Community Service #10 - Born To Be Wide

I know I have been a bit lapse with my Community Service posts lately, sorry kids. I promise that I'll try to do better in future, 'try' being the operative word there. Some of you that were paying attention to my ramblings about my adventures at GoNorth might have picked up on the fact that it was the good folk from Born To Be Wide that invited me up to cover it. I bet they're still regretting that decision! While I was up in Inverness I attended a fair few different seminars that they put on, really good they were too. Hence now that they have another event planned for this coming Thursday in Edinburgh, I thought I would get them to answer a few wee questions for me, letting them explain how they are and what they do.
Having seen what they do in person I would urge any musicians out there who are serious about giving it a go to try and 'make it', to attend their events. They're spot on guys that know their stuff, and more importantly they give you the opportunity to go out there and talk to folk that you would probably never have access to. Now I'll pass you over to Derick from Born To Be Wide for some more sensible chat...

In your own words describe what Born To Be Wide is and does?

Born To Be Wide is a networking and social music industry night where we invite music industry professionals to provide insight into their particular field (whether that’s publishing, management, PR, touring, etc). Generally takes the form of an informal seminar, followed up with self indulgent DJ sets from our guests, as long as they don’t play the Smiths, Morrissey or Joy Division. Olaf only invites those he genuinely believes are the best in their field, so it’s always really high quality, high profile guests. Born To Be Wide provides a platform for the professionals to share their experiences and expertise with our audience but most importantly the DJ club aspect of our night allows bands, promoters, budding managers, anyone that attends, an excellent opportunity to network with our guests, and get the best from their knowledge and develop what they’re doing, all in a relaxed environment.

What was the inspiration for starting up Born To Be Wide?

You’d really need to ask Olaf that one as he started it six years ago, but I’d say Born To Be Wide was inspired by the lack of any real scene in Edinburgh, lack of community, Olaf was looking to address that, get industry, media, managers and bands all talking and provide a focal point for everyone to meet. Olaf being Olaf, with his bulging address book was the man to make that happen. Today, Edinburgh’s scene is extremely vibrant; there is no doubt in my mind that Born To Be Wide contributed heavily to that. I think when everyone knows each other, networks and co-operates the overall scene becomes healthier and healthier.

What would you say to any musicians out there who are thinking of coming along to one of your evenings?

I’d say it’s the best couple of quid you are ever likely to spend on your band. Seriously, I know bands that have got record deals, publishing deals, tours, even just one off gigs as a result of meeting our guests or being introduced to people that come to Born To Be Wide. Most recently, as a result of our German Birthday party in February, Olaf set up a festival slot for five Scottish bands in Berlin, that’s the sort of opportunity on offer at Born To Be Wide every month. Not only is it worthwhile meeting our guests but we have a really good bunch of regulars that come down too, including journalists, promoters, managers, record labels, A&R folk and more. Myself and Olaf are always happy to introduce bands to anyone at our night and we’re also more likely to say yes if you want meet us for a chat or write about your band if you support us and come to our night.

What has been your personal highlight of Born To Be Wide since it started?

Actually, it’s difficult to choose any one highlight, it’s always amazing. Also, I can only speak for the years I’ve been to Born To Be Wide, so for me it’d either be our all day festival Wide Days or possibly our sixth birthday party with the German Consulate. Perhaps because I’m more involved in the live scene so I enjoy having bands perform. So yeah, Wide Days as we got gigs as well as venue tours and slight variations and similarly the German night as we had Jean’s Team play as well as the music quiz with cool prizes, amazing seeing the Counsel staff DJ ing too, that was cool. In fact, we always have a big party in August to coincide with the Edinburgh Festival. A couple years ago we had Irvine Welsh, Kristin Hersh and more incredible people, that was an excellent night, and it’s always cool hearing what our guests favourite tunes are, always surprising too.

Your next seminar is all about ‘Booking Agents’, who do you have lined up for that? Is it focused on bands that are at a certain level and want to know more or do you think it could be useful to artists at all levels?

We’ve got some brilliant guests for our Booking Agents seminar. Lisa Whytock from Active Events, the biggest agency in Scotland, mostly in the folk and jazz world of booking and I think she programs a lot of Celtic Connections festival too. We also have Joanna Malpas from ITB and Alex Lloyd from Main Stage Artists, (who incidentally we drunkenly met at goNorth last month and invited him up) both of them are brilliant at what they do and also represent Scottish acts. Finally, young Jason Edwards who founded his own agency The Art Of.. and is shortly moving to 13 Artists. The seminar will be essential to artists at all levels, we’ll be covering what an agents job is, what an artist should look for and hopefully go a long way to giving bands valuable insight into their role and how they could help. I think agents can be extremely important to an artist, an agent can make the difference to getting paid and getting festival slots or not. Really good agents also tend to develop the profile of bands they work with, so really invaluable for any artist at any level I reckon.

Lastly, what can we expect to see from Born To Be Wide in the future?

We have lots of plans and variations in the pipeline. Of course next year will see the return of a bigger version of our all day seminar and showcase event Wide Days, that’s going to be a challenge to better. We have plans to extend Wide Days into one off events in other parts of the country and a few other ideas we’re discussing too. Either way, whatever we do it should be worthwhile and valuable to people that come along and support us.

The next Born To Be Wide Seminar on 'Booking Agents' is being held on the 1st of July at the Electric Circus in Edinurgh. You can order tickets here (NB there are discounted tickets if you are a member of the Musician's Union).

Born To Be Wide


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