In From the Margins

We are lucky to get Artist Manager Olli Brummer's insider perspective on this years IAMA conference and an insight into the very relevant questions raised...

Top artist managers from all around the world gathered to listen the IAMA Conference opening speech by composer Kaija Saariaho.
In her speech, Saariaho blamed the classical music business for being ruthless, cold and too business minded. She also raised the question: “Where are today’s risk takers? Are you one of those that open doors for art and artists?”

This speech was an excellent generator and springboard for the discussions during the conference held in Helsinki on April 23-25.

But what is IAMA? Shortly put; The International Artist Managers' Association (IAMA) - is the only worldwide association for classical music artist managements. It is dedicated to serving all its members' needs and it strives to raise professional standards in the business of music. The conference is organized every year in a different city and this time it took place in Helsinki, at Finlandia Hall. You will find more info about IAMA and the conference at www.iamaworld.com.

The theme of this years conference was 'In from the margins'. The conference theme was extremely wide in range and it is always a question of from which perspective we are looking at things. Who draws the line on what is marginal and what is mainstream? In which stage marginal turns into mainstream and vice versa? Difficult and challenging questions. Many claim that classical music seems to be in the margins nowadays. Conference Chairman Mr. Aleksi Malmberg said: “Many of us find ourselves in the margin of the margins. But what if the mainstream were becoming narrower day by day? Perhaps the margin is actually widening, flourishing and generating new possibilites?”
This is a very positive way of thinking about the question and I’d like to think also that new margins create new possibilities for those of us working in the field of classical music. In the end, it is actually a question about empowering the margins.

The conference programme included an excellent series of showcase performances promoting Finnish music and musicians. The range of styles ranged from musical comedy to hardcore Finnish contemporary music, and everything was handed on a silver plate to artist managers and promoters from all over the world. (here is link to the programme ).
What a wonderful way of bringing Finnish art music and musicians in from the margins and opening new doors to them. This programme was made possible by Music Finland, an organization promoting Finnish Music all around the world, www.musicfinland.com.

Today, new technology and being a part of the internet is spreading everywhere. But how can you become involved and what are the tools and ways of becoming part of the digital revolution? This topic was discussed in a technology panel on the second day of the conference. It seemed that even though there are millions of possibilities generated by new technology, many of us seem to be quite lost on our way and don’t know what would be the best way to survive in the new digital jungle. One simple way is to search for possibilities in the social media. “Reputation in the social media is the new currency”, said Jyri Huopaniemi, Director from Nokia during the conversation.

Conductor Hannnu Lintu gave an inspiring speech on the third day of the conference, concentrating on composer Jean Sibelius. But above all else he reminded us all what is the core of interest in classical music. The most interesting thing in music making is the intensity and communication between the players, music and audience in a live performance. Even though new technology is rapidly taking over in all parts of life, no machine can ever replace the experience of enjoying art. This felt comforting.

Composer Kaija Saariaho was very provocative in her conference opening speech. She was wondering if our field of business had become cold and too business minded. In my thoughts, this question turned right the opposite way during the conference. I think Saariaho was really challenging us by asking; do we all have the real passion in our heart to work for this fine art form that we all feel so passionate about? Based on talks, experiences and warm encounters during this conference, I was ensured that passion towards music is still the driving force in our mind which is one of the foundations of our business.

Olli Brummer has been working as an Artist Manager at Fazer Artists’ Management since 2009. Alongside with his artist management work at Fazer, Olli has been involved in producing tours and events in Europe and Asia. From 2010-12, he worked as the Chief Executive of the ‘Music by the Sea’ festival in Inkoo, Finland. Olli is a graduate of the Sibelius Academy Vocal Department (Master of Music) and completed his studies in musicology and communication at Helsinki University (Master of Arts). Follow Olli on Twitter: @OlliBrummer.

Fazer Artists' Management Inc., founded in 1903, is one of the world's oldest artists' agencies in the field of classical music. The company is the exclusive representative of numerous international artists ranging from celebrated maestros to wonderful young talents. Today, Fazer Artists Management is the leading artists' agency in Finland. The company also organises concerts and tours in Finland and abroad. Follow: www.fazerartists.fi and on HELLO STAGE!
Author: Olli Brummer
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