'There's a spectrum from conceptual to very practical': Paul Pacifico on the inaugural AIM Connected

'There's a spectrum from conceptual to very practical': Paul Pacifico on the inaugural AIM Connected

AIM Connected kicks off today (April 1) at Studio Spaces in London’s Tobacco Docks for three days of panels and workshops targeted at the independents.

The first day of the indie trade body’s new conference covers everything from new markets in the Middle East and Africa, smart devices and streaming, to metadata, blockchain, breaking artists and bullying in the workplace.

AIM Connected will combine the Indie-Con, Music Connected and Women In Music events. Speakers include execs from YouTube Music, Vice, Beggars Group, SACEM and Merlin.

Artists such as Philip Selway from Radiohead and Moses Boyd will be among the speakers, while Skin from Skunk Anansie will be taking part in a Music Week Women In Music Awards interview with Music Week editor Mark Sutherland. 

Here, AIM CEO Paul Pacificio opens up about the ambitions for the Connected conference...

How are you feeling about the new conference?

“We’re really excited. We’ve got nearly 500 delegates now and actually we’re getting a lot of last-minute purchasing, which is great. We’ve got quite a large venue and over 150 speakers. On Tuesday (April 2) we have the first ever special event to celebrate the launch of the Shesaid.so Alternative Power 100 Music power List. So it really is a packed schedule.”

What makes AIM Connected unique?

“What I absolutely love about it is the fact that we’ve got some quite high level, conceptual stuff, but we’ve managed to include the real of nuts and bolts, practical, ‘How the hell do I make this work?’ kind of stuff. The workshops are very exciting. There’s a spectrum from conceptual to very, very practical.”

One of the speakers is Dream Hampton, exec producer of the Surviving R Kelly documentary series. How did you get her involved?

“Oriane Rosner, the senior events manager on our team, has been phenomenal in programming the conference. She’s done a fantastic job and really is inspirational in terms of the connections and network she’s reached out to and got excited about the conference. That was a recommendation by Oriane that we all got excited about and she went out and made it happen.”

There is a great opportunity for independents who sign really culturally relevant, cutting-edge talent

Paul Pacifico

Amid the evolution of the industry, is it good time to be launching a new conference and exploring some big ideas? 

“It is. I think when the tectonic plates underpinning everything that you do are shifting, and everybody is kind of reassembling pieces of a jigsaw puzzle in their own way to try to make it work, that’s incredibly exciting because it makes the market extremely dynamic, extremely fast moving and it absolutely drives innovation.”

You’ve got a Brexit panel on the final day (1.15pm) – do you think you can you shed any light on the on-going situation?

“Anybody that says they know what’s going on is probably kidding themselves. Maybe by Wednesday there will be some clarity. What’s really important for us is making sure the music community has as much support as possible in terms of contingency planning, in terms of preparation, in terms of understanding the key risk factors to their business and what practical steps can they engage to mitigate some of those risks.”

You’ve also got a panel on Idles and Partisan Records on Tuesday (April 2) at 10am – are you happy to have a big indie success story?

“Absolutely. I’m pleased to say that each year that I’ve been at AIM we’ve done case studies on successes in the independent sector, we haven’t been short for one yet. The indie sector is thriving and there is a great opportunity for independents who move quickly, who are specialist entreprenuerial businesses and who sign really culturally relevant, cutting-edge talent.” 

There’s a very broad range of speakers, is that what the indie sector can deliver?

“I think diversity is in AIM’s DNA. For us, it’s not just about diversity of panelists. It’s diversity of delegates, it’s diversity in everything we do. You get excited by the ethos of AIM, the community of AIM. It’s the people really.”

Is AIM Connected set to be a permanent fixture?

“We made the decision that as it was AIM’s 20th anniversary. we would try a few new things. We would ramp up some of our activities as a reflection of our anniversary. Will we do the same again next year? I don’t know yet. Obviously it’s a lot of pressure on the team and we’ll see how it goes. I think what we should do is enjoy the success of this event and consult with the independent community as to whether they prefer this approach.”

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