Belfast Conference To Hit A High Note

Now that NI's film industry is reeling in success, with the official body, NI Screen successfully promoting local facilities to filmmakers ('City of Ember' being one of the most recent Belfast-made epics), attention will next week focus on music.

With Northern Ireland-bred musicians aplenty on the national and world 'stage' - with everything from The Undertones to Van Morrison - Belfast is about to host this year's Northern Irish Music Industry Commission (NIMIC) conference.

Home-based music is the core of a special conference day at Queen's University with organisers hoping to emulate earlier successes when over 550 young people attended to listen to a panel of music industry experts and practitioners discussing the development of a sustainable music industry in Northern Ireland.

The panelists this year read like a 'who's who' of the music scene in 2008-Northern Irish born Paul Brannigan (Editor of Kerrang magazine), Ben Turner (from one of the UK's leading festivals, Bestival, and also the manager of Radio 1's Rob Da Bank), Harry Martin, from Domino Records (home of The Artic Monkeys and Franz Ferdinand).
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Add to them Declan Forde from Electric Picnic, Ian Ramage from Sony Music, Phil Nelson (manager of Duke Special), Andy McKirdy from Fatboy Slim's label Skint and Una Johnson from South By Southwest, and there's some idea of the scope.

The eclectic panel is topped off with one of the most important people in the UK Music Industry-an original 'Undertone', Fergal Sharkey, (pictured).

Fergal is now Chairman of 'UK Music', the recently formed body that is the voice of the UK Music Industry.

He commented: "It is vital that a new generation of songwriters and musicians is aware of how industries like the music business operate and the value they create."

Those interested in developing the local music scene have plenty of new top names to emulate too.

This year, for example, Downpatrick band The Answer is following the other local band, Ash into the headlines and will be playing to three million people in the next nine months supporting AC/DC; The Japanese Popstars are being hailed by Radio 1's Pete Tong as the latest big name in dance music, and 'Fighting With Wire' has secured a recording deal with none other than Atlantic Records.

The event takes place on Thursday 6 November in the Whitla Hall, from 9.30am-4.30pm.


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