NIMIC – What’s Next?

The only thing that’s seems certain after Monday’s open meeting to discuss the demise of NIMIC, the Northern Ireland Music Industry sector lead body, is that such a body no longer exists.

BBC Radio had a few interviews with folks from the meeting, which you can hear over on the 17/11/09 edition of BBC’s Evening Extra (interviews start at 1hr 12mins in). The interviewer summed it up nicely: “People seemed to be struggling to come up with ideas.”

Should a similar body be formed? For what purpose? Is it even necessary? Or are the various strands of any music industry simply better served by their own representative bodies (MMF, NIRSA etc.)?

My personal disappointment with the passing of NIMIC mainly stems from the (perhaps naïve) view that the presence of a unified voice for musicians & industry service providers was better than a fragmented group of various interests – and not only for the benefits of lobbying local government, but as a representative of co-operation and willingness to collaborate to the wider world.

Work with Un-Convention, the NI Music Meetup (now Open Music Media) and other collaborative, prospective ventures only further deepened that belief.

I’d have to say that recent experience (not just the collapse of NIMIC) has changed that view to a large degree – indeed, the overall consensus is that a one-size-fits-all organization is doomed to fail, as NIMIC did. Indeed, according to what I can see as the currently prevalent idea, even the naming of a music industry body is premature. A music industry, in and of itself; either doesn’t, or to some people’s minds, shouldn’t exist at all here. I’m prepared to reluctantly accept those concepts.

So what’s next? Probably what faces most music industries in most cities – a wide range of organizations with various goals and an arrested knowledge of each others existence; advice giving and network sharing on a smaller scale between members of those organizations and occasional inter-organizational co-operation – lacking in a central point of contact for representation outside of that particular market or support for ideas and endeavor from within. What benefits or negative effects arise from this approach I’ll leave for others, and time itself, to extrapolate upon.

What do you think of the need, or lack thereof, for a central representative body for a music industry? What happens in your city by way of collaboration at an industry wide level and do you think you’d benefit from a single voice such as the one NIMIC has attempted to represent? An outside perspective is most appreciated here!

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13 Responses to NIMIC – What’s Next?

  1. Mr Angry says:

    The music “industry” in Northern Ireland need to shake themselves from their dependency on cap in hand assistance. There was no excuse for a body (see “gang” ) to be set up and funded to impart advice readily available for free to those motivated or interested enough to find it.

    NIMIC was a failed entity from the outset. Its fixation with “industry” rather than “business” was evidently going to lead to its demise.

  2. pennydist says:

    Your inference that people who saw value in NIMIC were lazy, Oliver-Twist types is not only ridiculous but a clear demonstration of your ignorance of the type of entrepreneurial spirit needed to be in a successful band these days.

    As for your focus on “business”, it was the music “business” that gave us the controlled composition clause, breakage fees and pseudo-monopolistic most-favored-nation setups.

    Squeezing artists for every penny they’re worth, stifling creativity and coveting your own pissing-patch is not a healthy “business” attitude – but by all means, continue to drive yourself into obscurity with that attitude.

    • Mr Angry says:

      Hi, I’m inferring nothing – your persecution complex is in fine shape. It is you who are inferring that you know anything about me.

      I do quite well in promoting local bands to the national and international markets thank you and I’m also somewhat more entrepreneurial than those stuck in the age old “distribution” business model.

      I don’t want or need to get into a pissing match here but while we’re on the subject of stifling creativity and coveting ones own pissing patch you’d do well to read the Assembly Hansard from Feb 2008 when NIMIC sought to do just that on behalf of NIRSA.

      Cheers.

  3. barryc says:

    I hope to see you at the next meet up.

  4. pennydist says:

    @barryc yep, see you there!

    @mr angry – like I said, best of luck with that attitude! Hope to see you at the meetup, too. 🙂

  5. Stephen Anderson says:

    I’m an actual Music Business professional with over 20 years international experience and I feel more than qualified to make this statement. It is Corporate greed that has brought us to where we are right now. The Global Music Industry is dying on it’s feet. The kindest thing we can do now is kill it and get back to the “Business of Music”

    There is a new and impressive generation of young people in N.Ireland who would like to have the option of a career in Music and they must be supported and given every encouragement and opportunity to pursue their dreams.

    I’m shocked and appalled that Invest NI have not acted to protect the jobs that already exists here in the Music Business and have not been active at all in the area of inward investment for Music. They have failed to do anything like what they have done for other business sectors. This is a scandal and should be exposed as such.

    Invest NI need to come out now and redeem themselves by making real and meaningful efforts to address the needs of the Music Business as a viable sector and seek advice from the right people who know what they’re doing. Not those who profess to be something they’re not or the self-appointed “Industry Advisors” who charge hefty consultancy fees for what amounts to be nothing short of being a joke.

    Stephen Anderson
    S.A.P.

    • pennydist says:

      Totally agree that InvestNI should step up and support the music sector – and I know there’s a will within INI to do just that. The biggest issue is consensus – if NIMIC showed anything, it was that without consensus, things just grind to a halt to the detriment of everyone.

      It’s people like yourself that INI need to hear from now, Stephen – but in addition there needs to be a strategy among businesses like yourselves and other businesses where some kind of consensus as to what is needed from Government can be presented. Without a clear strategy as sector, there’s little INI can do.

      Who sets that strategy and how we move forward is still the big question…

  6. Mr Angry says:

    Invest NI are, purportedly, in the business of sectoral growth.

    Globally the music business is in decline and the adversity affecting that decline is not easily addressed. If the mindset of Invest NI is one which withdraws funding over “..irreconcilable issues” at board level what makes anyone think that they could confidently, or competently, support NI’s music businesses in the current economic climate?

    One only has to look at the DETI report into invest NI’s performance, or lack thereof, along with their mismanaged property portfolio to realize that they are not equipped or qualified to advise anyone in the music business.

    They had eight years to get a handle on it and they failed, miserably.

    I have read Mr Anderson’s letters / thoughts in various media publications and it appears that whilst he has invited Invest NI to come forward they seem less than eager to do so.

    That aside, the silence of the greater music community – particularly those regular recipients of NIMIC funding – is deafening.

    • pennydist says:

      First off, I’d argue that the industry is in transition, not decline – but that’s another blog post entirely 🙂 What’s also another post for another time is who’s fault this was/who killed NIMIC (was it Col. Mustard?) and whether or not NIMIC/InvestNI “failed” or not – all valid questions that many hours of online to-ing and fro-ing have yet to answer, and I’m not about to get into AGAIN here.

      But I agree with your points on the DETI report – pretty damning overall. I’d say we’ve got to play with the cards we’ve been dealt – and the DETI report is ALL THE MORE REASON to avoid being dictated to by INI and to present a consensus opinion on a way forward for, if not all for all sectors of the industry, at least a collection of connected sectors. By generating a broad consensus WE can advise INI, not the other way around.

      But the larger point here – while I appreciate any engagement in discussion on this, this kind of pseudo anonymous, general finger-pointing at “them uns over there” being the problem is counter productive. It engenders and supports a bunkered “youse are all cunts” attitude. Demonizing the “others” while offering no positivity, forward thinking or leadership (a trait unique to our little archipelago) is something I thought we were growing out of in N.I.

      With that in mind, Senor Angry, what positive, pro-active steps do you think you, funding bodies and the music industry at large could take to solve the problems you’re currently facing as a music business (and if that includes removing INI root and branch so be it, but what would you prefer in it’s place)? I’m honestly curious here!

  7. Mr Angry says:

    I, honestly, fail to see how any broad consensus can be reached to move the current situation forward without the creation of spokespersons or figureheads and the troubles which such things bring. I also think that this emphasis on consensus is about as un rock ‘n roll as one could possibly hope to be.

    As Mr Anderson pointed out in his letter to the media – if NIMIC was so successful at delivery then why did Invest NI pull the plug? Invest NI might covertly be expressing an interest in helping the sector but they certainly have a funny way of showing it.

    That aside I believe that a lot of the people involved in the business in Northern Ireland need to evidence and utilize innovative and entrepreneurial skills to develop and form liaisons / partnerships as and when they are identified as appropriate to their needs and the needs of their core customer base – whatever that might be.

    Trying to upskill funding bodies and local government / civil Service departments which have no conceptual grasp of the business is a waste of time / effort and resources. Look at the mess they made of the New Deal for musicians locally. Lip service to a sector they neither want nor know how to understand.

    I have dealt with many of the core sectoral and industry / business representative bodies throughout the UK and much further afield and, to a man, each of them were better equipped and resourced for the job than Invest NI ever even anticipated NIMIC might need to be.

    Like yourself I’ve no wish to get into a mud slinging match over this but I do genuinely think it is important for people to be upbeat and positive by remembering that businesses and bands survived and flourished before NIMIC and Invest NI’s passing nod to the sector. They did it without funding / input from either body and they will do it again.

    Passion, belief, good contacts and good networking will sustain any music business venture moreso than a dependency on those who

    a: Don’t understand your business and
    b: Control the purse strings

    As Mr Anderson stated above the best we can do is kill the beast and move on. All the indicators are that Invest NI have their own demons and irreconcilable differences to deal with.

  8. STEPHEN ANDERSON says:

    Invest NI should be reaching out to me and people like me if they are in anyway serious about wanting to understand the Music Business. I think if they had any real determination they would have been in touch along time ago.

  9. […] discussions on NIMIC, what happened and what’s next are at Fastfude, as well as on this blog. If there’re any other news items/input/reports on NIMIC, ideas for next steps etc are […]

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