INTERVIEW/ PREVIEW: Joining the Dots Conference, Cecil Sharp House 12th Sept

Julia Payne

In anticipation of the Joining the Dots One-Dayer at Cecil Sharp House, we interviewed the driving force behind it , Julia Payne, Director of The Hub:

LondonJazz News: Julia you've been involved in marketing and audience development for non-mainstream music most of your working life...

Julia Payne: Yes, that’s right. I started out – and got my jazz education – working at The Stables, the venue started by John Dankworth and Cleo Laine. Then I moved onto London’s Barbican, where I was their first ever marketing manager for what was then called non-classical music! After that I had a couple of great years at the Jazz Development Trust, where I promoted a conference called – rather boldly - ‘How to develop audiences for jazz. Or die”. What can I say? I was (relatively) young! After a spell at the Arts Council I co-founded the hub in 2002, and since then I’ve been involved in all sorts of audience building projects. It’s about awareness; make people aware of really great music, take it to them, and for some it’ll be the start of a lifelong love of it. That’s what I try to do, and help other people do.

LJN: So tell us a bit about your latest project, Joining the Dots. What’s it about?

JP: So Joining the Dots is based on two premises. Firstly that if the music industry continues to cling to old models we’ll all be a bit, well, buggered. And secondly, that we’d all be a bit savvier if we shared what we know with each other. Joining the Dots is basically about encouraging people to take action, find new models, new ways of making a living from the music we love, and new ways of getting people to love it as much as we do. We’re doing that in two ways. First up, we’re funding people to test new, potentially ‘game changing’ ideas. And secondly, we’re running a load of live events and webinars focused on technology, marketing and fundraising.

LJN: And why is it called Joining the Dots?

JP: Well, because that’s what we’re trying to do... join people up and get them sharing more, and fill in the picture, help people get inside stuff that might be unfamiliar to them.

LJN: And the themes you'll be developing at the Joining the Dots - One Dayer conference on in Camden on 12 Sep, what are they?

JP: So the #OneDayer is for anyone who works in independent music: artists, promoters, managers, labels, everyone. In a nutshell it’s about three things: where technology is going to take us, where the money’s going to come from, and how we can grow our audiences. Why these three themes? Well, because they’re what people working in the industry told us they needed to know more about. It’s difficult to keep up sometimes, when you’re busy running your own career or business, so The One Dayer is about galvanising people, helping them grab a lot of information in…one day. We’re hoping to create a Festival experience – one where you rub shoulders with other really interesting people, learn things easily and quickly, hear brilliant new ideas and come away with lots of new contacts.

LJN: You've trawled wide for your speakers. That's a sign that you see quite a lot of common threads which can be developed across genres?

JP: I don’t really ‘do’ genres – as a punter or professionally! I think that the challenges and opportunities for jazz musicians or promoters are broadly similar to those for people working in other ‘beyond mainstream’ genres. That’s reflected in the breadth of the speakers we’ve booked. So, there are people who your readers will definitely know – say, Laura Jurd, and also Gavin Sharp from Band on the Wall - but also people from other areas of music, and beyond. For instance, Nicholas Lovell, who’s written a great book called The Curve, which is about turning your fans and customers into ‘superfans’. He’s from a games background, but everything he says is bang on from a music point of view. I’ve booked people who have something new to say, people who can inspire and offer something practical. I can’t wait. I’m going to learn so much, and I hope everyone else will too.

LJN: So, what would you hope a musician would gain from attending?

JP: Well, my goal is for everyone to go away feeling three things. Firstly galvanised, that they’ve picked up loads of really practical stuff that they can take home and make happen straight away. Secondly, that they’ve stepped out of the day-to-day and got inside the ‘big stuff’. And finally that they feel better equipped to face the future, more confident and enthused about the change around them. If I had to pick one word I hope people will leave feeling galvanised.

LJN: And what about promoters or people with an involvement in marketing? 

JP: The same really. That they have picked up lots of really practical tips, have had time to ‘zoom out’ and think about that bigger picture that tends to disappear when you’re focused on keeping a programme going. Really good conversations and ideas happen when you mix people up who have different skills and approaches – that’s what we want the #OneDayer to be for people – a swap-shop of ideas, a space to question things, and lots of different viewpoints on the industry so that we’re not creating silos. (A FULL LIST OF SPEAKERS IS HERE
LJN: You also are known for knowing what funders want to see in applications. Will people alien to the funded sector be able to gain insights here?

JP: Absolutely. Totally. Most of our speakers come from a world that isn’t about funding, and this isn’t a conference aimed at fundraisers. This is about the everyday business of making a living from music, and how we can all get smarter about doing that.

LJN: When you were looking for people with genuinely new ideas to fund you invited submissions by video. I assume you can't name a favourite but did one take you by surprise? 

JP: You’re right, I can’t have a favourite! The really great thing about the four projects we’re funding is that they’re so diverse.

- Cafe Oto are building a digital subscription service around the recordings they make of their gigs;

- Eventbox are making an app that lets you listen to listings and working with venues like the Vortex to test it.

- Daredevil Project are making a mobile game designed to increase interaction between bands and fans.

- Un-convention are building a gig-swap platform that has its own trading ‘currency’ built in.

Coming from a venue background I’m fascinated to see how other venues could build on what Cafe Oto are doing, and as a punter I love the idea of Eventbox. All four of them will be at the one-dayer showing people what they’re doing.

LJN: And how much does it cost, and where can people get tickets?

Julia Payne: Aha, the plug! A standard ticket is £40 for the whole day on 12 September, and you can get it via Eventbrite. But, as the MU are one of our project partners, MU members can get in for just £25 (just check the last newsletter for details of the special offer). We want as many independent promoters and musicians to come as possible, so it was really important to us that the event was affordable.

the hub website / Joining the Dots website
Follow the conference on the day via Twitter: @tweetsatthehub #OneDayer 


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