After the Take Note conference in London last year we hoped there would be more youth-focused, dynamic conferences making an appearance in the music industry occupying that space that has been neglected for quite some time. Lo and behold, not long after Take Note we were fortunate enough to get an invite to Fast Forward – a brand new event set up by Brits, but taking place in the Dutch capital, Amsterdam. So off we went to get stuck in to Fast Forward…
Fast Forward and Take Note definitely seem to hold similar values, placing their focus on young people, the future of our industry and giving those who are new to the business, or perhaps from a younger demographic at least, a chance to network with likeminded people of a similar age. Tickets were made cheaper for those who were under 35 and the capacity was limited to just 120 people which meant it was nice and cosy and intimate, great for getting to know people and making solid contacts.
The event took place at the fantastic Muziekgebouw building about a 10-minute walk from Centraal station, perfect. The impressive building houses a concert hall and several conference rooms, and Fast Forward utilised the space to great effect, spreading out across three floors. Over the course of two days we were sat attentively through a number of highly engaging discussions and presentations. It must be said that one of the biggest takeaways from Fast Forward was the amount of information relating to the future of the music industry.
Predictions about the impact of new technology came through in almost every chat, and particularly concerning how the hell the industry is going to sustain any kind of consistency as far as its economic outlay goes. We also loved the ‘Fast 15’ presentations, where individuals were given 15 minutes to deliver information on an array of enlightening topics. In doing so, it meant that audience members were given easy-to-digest info in a short space of time, therefore keeping them engaged and avoiding the old ‘numb bum fidget’ that is prevalent at most conferences.
It was a very insightful conference, full of friendly faces and surprisingly well organised considering it was their first and that it had, apparently, all been put together in just four months. Impressive stuff. DLTM particular enjoyed Sammy Andrews’ appearances, laden with expletives but also very engaging, optimistic (if the industry wakes up to some of the solutions she’s suggested) and confident. She was one of many powerhouse women who appeared at the event – another positive aspect of Fast Forward, the sheer number of strong, inspiring women who were selected to appear. As highlighted by Take Note’s shining example, the music business is a bit of an old boy’s club (like most of the world’s industries really) and so having a large female contingent at Fast Forward was a step in the right direction for sure.
For us, particular standout panels and presentations included ‘Future of Making Money in Music’ (with Chris Carey moderating, Rowan Brand, Ruth Clarke, Roxanne de Bastion, and Tim Miles), ‘The New Generation of Content Creators’ (by Ben Bowler), ‘Convergence and the Future of the Music Industry’ (by Sammy Andrews), ‘Legal POV: Need to Know for a Digital Market’ (by Halina Wielogorska), the fascinating ‘Building with Blockchain’ (by Benji Rogers) and ‘The Future of the Music Industry'(with Chris Carey moderating, Sammy Andrews, Craig Fletcher, and Catherine Lückhoff).
Outside of the conference, organised networking events were also a roaring success owning mainly to the capped attendance numbers. The Delirium Cafe on Thursday and De Bekeerde Suster on Friday both played host to pretty much everyone who’d been at the conference, meaning there was no awkwardness, no trying to avoid eye contact or fiddling with your phone trying to look busy while hoping to see someone familiar walk by. It was an altogether more welcoming, nourishing atmosphere at the Fast Forward networking dos and the same can be said for the entire event.
“I was delighted with the quality of the speakers, the insight they gave. There were a lot of people speaking for the first time or stepping up into different roles for the first time and I think everyone delivered to a high standard. I learned a lot myself,” Chris Carey, Founder of Fast Forward, told DLTM. “Gaming was probably the most striking aspect of it. The way in which it monetises itself, the music business can learn a lot from that industry.”
“We’ll be back in Amsterdam again, everyone said they had a good time there. It was a good place to start. The idea is to keep it small again, to keep that community and encourage an environment where everyone speaks to each other,” he says.
Good vibes filtered down from the organisers themselves, and the content was refreshingly original. Congratulations to everyone involved.