Friday 3rd - Sunday 5th May

Photography: Andy Hughes /

SOUND CITY+ is the festival’s bustling music business conference, which pays tribute to Liverpool’s history as the gateway to the global market on many levels, from trade and industry to the British music invasion of the 60s. Running over all three days of this year’s festival, the various panel events and keynote speeches take place across The British Music Experience – in Liverpool’s historical Cunard Building – and the Baltic Triangle. Live music is woven in alongside thought-provoking workshop and In Conversation sessions, that allow leading industry figures to dissect some of the most pressing issues in the business in 2019.

Here, we take a look at some highlights of the conference, which will be taking place between the British Music Experience and the Baltic Triangle.


Sound City+ 2018 (Jazamin Sinclair)


Women In A&R: How The Game Has Changed

In the past 20 years, the role of A&R has significantly changed. It’s now easier than ever for the public to find new artists, even without the help of major labels. As a result, A&Rs have had to change their approach; they must develop a band in new ways to explore their full potential. In the last decade, there has been a rise in women getting involved in A&R. Mapping this change, Dorothy Carvello’s book Anything For A Hit explores her journey into the music industry. Here she battled against an unhealthy, narcissistic atmosphere, beginning as secretary to Ahmet Ertegun and later becoming the first A&R executive at Atlantic Records. Has such a change led to the world of A&R embraing equality? Have campaigns such as #MeToo made an impact on the music industry? A number of such pioneers in today’s industry – artist manager ELINORE GILES, Island Records’ A&R manager ADELE WHITE and EVE FAIRLEY-CHICKWE (A&R and publishing at AWAL and Kobalt) – will discuss how these topics have affected their own careers.


In Conversation with Huw Stephens

HUW STEPHENS has always had an ear for the next big thing. Beginning his career on Welsh radio, he quickly become known for his ability to unearth emerging talent, leading to a role as a BBC Music Introducing DJ. He is now the face of BBC Music Introducing, as well as a national tastemaker. Beyond radio, he also curates the BBC Music Introducing stage at Glastonbury, Reading and Leeds, T In The Park and Radio One’s Big Weekend. In between, he’s found time to write for NME, The Guardian and The Independent. At Sound City+, Huw will talk through his varied career in a conversation with Dr Jennifer Otter Bickerdicke, and, using his extensive knowledge of music, radio, journalism and events, also shed light on how young artists can use the vast array of media avenues to get their music heard.

The European Festival Gates Are Open

This panel looks beyond festival headliners in an attempt to explores the depths of a festival line-up; how smaller stages are curated, what can be done by artists to make themselves more known by festivals and, importantly, ways they can get on the line-up. Sound City is part of the Innovation Network of European Showcases (INES), which enables artists to play at festivals across the continent and broaden their fanbases. INES was founded in 2017 by MARCUS RÜSSEL, the CEO and founder of online booking platform gigmit. Rüssel will be joined on this panel by leading experts from some of the biggest festivals in the UK and Europe, including MELI PSOCH (Danube Island Festival, Vienna), ALEXEI KUTUZOV (Minsk Festival), MIRCA LOTZ (Manic Street Parade, Munich). The discussion will look into how different festivals approach bookings for the smaller, more emerging talent and artists.


In Conversation with Dave Rowntree

DAVE ROWNTREE was right at the heart of the 90s Britpop wave. As the drummer and co-founder of Blur, he’s received accolades only others can dream of, with over 40 music awards including five Brits. While his signature drum-style has always been at the core of the Blur sound, he’s now found more time to expand on his activism, taking steps towards becoming a politician for the Labour Party and county councillor for the University division in Norwich. He has also explored his love for radio, TV and computer animation. Dave comes to Sound City 2019 for a special, one-off discussion at the BME, in the form of a conversation with media and music academic Dr Jennifer Otter Bickerdicke. The conversation will cover the ups and downs of playing in one of the UK’s biggest bands – touching on the need for activism in music.


In Conversation with Erin Tonkon

The engineer who worked with Tony Visconti on David Bowie’s Blackstar talk to Dr Jennifer Otter Bickerdicke about her experiences of a male-dominated industry. Read our interview with Erin here.

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