Last week, Brighton, UK, hosted The Great Escape, a three-day music festival showcasing 500 emerging artists — and we were so proud that over a quarter of them work with AWAL. To celebrate our first time partnering with the festival, we wallpapered Brighton with “I Am My Own Label” — including a massive digital billboard — and created the AWAL Lounge, the Official Home for Independent Artists at TGE as an “escape” and a place for artists and managers to meet and learn.
Throughout the three days, our own AWAL team was on hand to welcome artists in person as we presented speakers, A&R networking sessions, parties, and more.
The Great Escape also marked “I Am My Own Label’s” premiere in the UK. At our Lounge, we filmed over 30 independent artists across the three days who told us what it means to them to be “their own label” in music today — and all the challenges and triumphs that go along with it.
Among the events and activities at our Lounge were sessions and programming designed to give independent artists insight and advice on what it takes to be successful from experts with first-hand experience. Each event was filled with enthusiastic artists and managers who came prepared with great questions to dig deeper with our guests.
On Thursday, AWAL artist Bruno Major sat down with Music Business Worldwide’s Tim Ingham to discuss how he defines success as an independent artist after achieving over 85 million streams without the support of a major label.
We were also joined by Simon Bobbett, manager of the Wombats, on Friday, who talked through the band’s campaign for their latest release, Beautiful People Will Ruin Your Life. The album was not only released entirely independently but also became the band’s highest charting record of all time (UK #3).
Over at TGE:Convention, Kobalt Founder & CEO Willard Ahdritz gave a keynote talk on Thursday afternoon in which he discussed the current landscape of the music industry for independent artists, along with how and why it’s important to retain the rights to your music.
“It’s the kiss of death to sign away your rights when you should be in control.” — Willard Ahdritz
Closing out our schedule of talks and programming was a special, TGE-edition of our AWAL Sessions entitled “What’s the Difference Between Being Unsigned and Being Independent?” moderated by Paul Hitchman, President, AWAL UK, and featuring Sarah Landy, SVP, Client Development, AWAL US; Matt Riley, Director of Creative, AWAL UK; Vanessa Reed, Chief Executive, PRS; and James Barnes, Co-Founder, The Fourty Four/Never Fade Records.
The room was packed as the panelists discussed the options and opportunities available to independent artists today, emphasizing global connectivity as a huge differentiator and factor in why it’s possible to be both successful and independent.
“No matter who you partner with to release your music, you want to be sure that your core team has as much heart and soul in it as you do.” — Sarah Landy
Of course, the Great Escape wouldn’t be complete without music. We packed out one of two stages at the Beach, TGE’s newest, 2,000-capacity venue. On Thursday night, headliner Bruno Major took the stage, supported by Liverpool’s The Night Cafe, songstress Mina Rose, singer-songwriter Tyne, and ‘80s-inspired duo Apre.
The Great Escape truly lived up to its name for our first time at the festival. We loved meeting so many artists and hearing how they’re finding new and innovative ways to “be their own labels” and build careers with their music.
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