The SMIA - Regular Funding Success

What would you do with £500,000? How about a plan to help music businesses in Scotland flourish?

The Scottish Music Industry Association (SMIA) has been a long-term supporter and partner of Wide Days, and we were delighted to hear that they were successful in joining Creative Scotland’s Regular Funding Network for 2018–2021.

Set-up in 2008 to foster, promote and serve the best interests of Scotland's music industry, the SMIA began its life as a membership organisation, tasked with uniting a complex network of sectors, genres and disciplines. Since this time, the company has demonstrated key value through its actions, events and achievements, as well as a determined enthusiasm to represent and develop Scotland’s music industry for the good of all. With a sharpened focus on common rather than competing interests; a commitment to communicate and cooperate across all areas of the industry and, above all, a determination to deliver services, projects and a programme of events that are both meaningful and of benefit, the SMIA has now secured the resources to deliver a pioneering innovation-led development programme, designed to help nurture business talent and build infrastructure in the Scottish music industry.

We caught up with Dougal Perman and Robert Kilpatrick to find out more about what projects and programmes the SMIA has in store…

Tell us about the SMIA’s journey, what has led the organisation to where it is now?

Robert Kilpatrick: In the SMIA’s short history, I’m incredibly proud of how far we’ve come. The SMIA team, along with many of our active members, have worked extremely hard to bring key value, impact and benefits to practitioners working across all sectors of the industry. I’m delighted to see that our work and vision has now resulted in us being given the resources to do this on a larger scale.

Through conducting research last year, we were able to pilot new types of needs-led projects and events, including training workshops, briefing and debriefing events for international showcases and ‘Creative Conversations’ with inspiring industry colleagues. We joined various government and public agency consultations, as well as provided outreach at many higher education institutes and industry events. We also continued delivering existing projects, such as the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award, which was six in 2017 and had its most successful year to date. Together we pushed the boundaries of what the SMIA has always had the potential to deliver, and this not only allowed our impact to be greater than ever before, but was instrumental in forming our plans, aims and ambitions moving forward.

Tell us a bit about what you have planned, as well as what informed the projects and programmes the SMIA has been funded to deliver?

Dougal Perman: since I became chair of the SMIA, I have been invited to sit on various government, public agency and industry advisory groups and discussion fora. Talking about Scotland’s creative industries, what potential they have for growth and the challenges they face, it became clear to me that Scotland has an abundance of creative talent, especially in music. I don’t think anyone participating in Wide Days would doubt that. But, Scotland as a nation has lacked sufficient opportunities to develop enough of the business talent needed at home to support, and capitalise on, its creative output.

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The problem is, many musical creatives in Scotland are represented by managers, agents, publicists, record labels, publishers, lawyers and accountants outwith Scotland (mostly in London). None of us have anything against these businesses or individuals, but we’d love to see more business talent developed – and retained – in Scotland to build more of a music industry infrastructure here.

We think the solution is to invest in a pioneering innovation-lead development programme to help nurture that business talent and build the infrastructure. And our vision is to retain more musical intellectual property and conduct more business in the music supply chain in Scotland. So we articulated the current situation, examined the problem defined our vision for its solution and then established our objectives. They are to develop skills, increase opportunities and stimulate innovation. And how are we going to achieve that? Our strategy is simple: champion creativity, build infrastructure and evolve business models.

Robert: We’ll be releasing the finer details of our projects and programmes soon, but some of the things to expect include free workshops on a variety of needs-led industry topics, which will be live streamed wherever possible so that the learnings can be accessed by music practitioners all over the country. We’ll also be developing free online resources, including how-to guides and toolkits in the form of detailed blog posts, PDF documents, infographics, in-depth podcast interviews with industry experts discussing pertinent topics and video case studies of inspiring music business success stories.

Dougal: We’re also going to launch a new high-level training programme called the Music Business Model Innovator. Each year we will invite companies to apply for a place on the MBMI programme. Successful applicants will meet with a team of creative business consultants who will benchmark where their company is at and then workshop a plan for pivoting its business model to take advantage of new opportunities or overcome challenges. The business will then have some ongoing support as they put the plan into action. Non-confidential data, learnings and business model templates will be made publicly available through the resources section of the SMIA website.

Robert: There’s lots more aside from this, including the expansion of existing projects such as the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Award. We’ll also still be running separate events and projects specifically for our membership, so there will be lots of exciting activity in the coming months.

Dougal: We were delighted that our application for Regular Funding from Creative Scotland was successful. The three-year funded period has just begun so we’re now taking our strategies and turning them into action plans and being mindful to keep them focused on our objectives. Some of our projects can launch quite quickly, others will take a bit longer to activate. Events like Wide Days, and their year round, nationwide projects Born To Be Wide and Off The Record, are a vital part of the creative industries support network in Scotland. They also provide a great opportunity to meet up face to face.

Robert: We look forward to sharing more with everyone soon, but please come and find us at Wide Days to talk about how you can get involved.

Keep up to date with the SMIA on Facebook and Twitter. To get in touch, please email info@smia.org.uk.

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Ailsa Harper