Music has a new home in Milan.
On 20 June BASE opens the doors of the musicROOMS, Music Innovation Hub HQ and the new ecosystem driving music innovation.
We are at the dawn of the post-digital era. After two decades of decline, the music industry is getting back on its feet. With its capacity to converse with other languages, it has always been an engine for cultural development and, given the right visionary policies and solid skills, it can also become an engine for economic development.
Italy is recognised around the world as an important birthplace of music, but it is still lagging behind with regards to the typical dynamics of an industrial system. Independent enterprises are very small, in terms of both size and revenue, and we are witnessing an increasingly aggressive takeover of the key components of our industry by foreign multinationals.
This is the context for BASE’s investigation into the challenges of the Italian music industry and its search for solutions, contributing – alongside partners Fondazione Giordano dell’Amore, MMC, Cariplo Factory, Musicraiser, Fondazione Cariplo and Fondazione Milano – to the Music Innovation Hub project, a think tank, production company and incubator for new artistic talents.
Six months after the launch of MIH, we interviewed Dino Lupelli (Director General), to dive into the music industry’s hot topics.
With Music Innovation Hub we have identified some areas in which to make a mark, with the aim of helping the Italian system to grow in size. MIH was born in Milan, which has been the capital of the Italian music scene for a while now based on the number of ventures underway in all sectors: live music and recording, but also in the emerging music start-up sector, and especially technology led enterprises.
Demolishing boundaries and building relationships
“One of the Italian music industry’s sore points is the lack of opportunities to go global. This process moves in two directions: exporting music abroad and importing audiences to our events. If we get international industry representatives coming here and entering into conversation with ours, we can establish connections. Because the problem of Italian music’s international profile isn’t just about launching an artist in a foreign country; it’s also a question of industry relationships. Music is a product just like anything else. We have addressed the issue of global relationships with Linecheck: a platform and festival providing a B2B moment for building an international profile, but also an opportunity for exchange and learning. Music is an industry that needs a management class, it needs managers who are highly trained because the challenges involved go way beyond passion. This is an important issue: understanding that music is not only a cultural and emotional space, but is also an industry. If you shift towards an industry model, you can have all the passion in the world, but if you don’t have the skills you’ll get stuck in the past and won’t grow.
Investing in future audiences
“What is it that makes us so different from a market like, for instance, the French one? If you look at the number of tickets sold at contemporary popular music events, you’ll notice the gap in sales is the same as the gap in spending on music education. If you don’t create a willingness to invest in future generations, you’ll never have a big enough audience interested in music. We are tackling this issue with the Chorus project, a new MIH programme facilitating access to music. The dynamics at play in music education are very random: there’s hardly any in schools, and what little there is fails to look at the issues in music today, and the question of digital tools. So, this is a significant issue that needs to be looked at from the perspective of supply chain: in an area like Milan, with nearly 240 music schools, the syllabus on offer is really dull; there’s a really high drop-out rate. Chorus is getting a whole network of schools involved – to promote new formats, meet new audiences, increase demand, and also to boost the quality of what’s on offer.
From media exclusion to professional training
“Music education and capacity building are pointless if you don’t have artists. This is a historic moment of music evolution, in which globalized music, music liquefaction, and direct and on-demand access to all music content have placed the user in a position of choice. However, they have also returned artists to a rather worrying situation of full-on exploitation, because they can find themselves at the centre of considerable hype and become key figures on the scene, but they don’t receive the education they need to sustain a career in the medium/long-term. Through Futurissima we are taking young creators, and guiding them through a process of training and development that is slower than that of a big record label and we are putting them on an educational path, rather than subjecting them to mere media exclusion. We are aiming to create a stable of artists for the long term.
Moving towards new entertainment languages
“All the activities we pursue are tied to a quest for understanding, a subject that we are developing through Pogo Production: behind this project there is the idea of a production centre, which aims to harness music’s capacity to function as a crossover language, able to establish dialogue with other languages, other suggestions, other sources of stimulus. Music is getting back on its feet. This is because it has broadened its horizons, carried along by other industries like gaming, videos and technology. Overall, music is at the core of a movement that is carrying the cultural and creative industries ever closer to entertainment, and therefore becoming more experiential than intellectual.
Thursday 20 June, from 4 in the afternoon until dawn, the Housewarming day will open the doors of the musicROOMS to the city, presenting new spaces and projects.