The future of the music business? Tim Ferrone reviews the Fast Forward music conference.

Tim Ferrone Music EntrepreneurshipHead of Music Entrepreneurship, Tim Ferrone, took part in one of the newest additions to the busy Music Industry Conference calendar. 
Here he looks back at a successful event, and what sets it apart from the rest.

Music conferences have existed in the industry for decades; recognising the importance of networking, deal making and information sharing in a business that is built upon such pillars. Yet some of the long established conferences are struggling for relevance, whilst others seemingly bloat under the weight of their own success. So it is fair to ask the question, do we really need yet another?

On the evidence of the inaugural Fast Forward event, held in Amsterdam on the 4th & 5th February, the answer is an emphatic ‘yes!’ For this is a conference with a difference; specifically (but not exclusively) targeting the middle management of the business, and hence very likely the next generation of top level executives, the conference delivers an atmosphere quite unlike that of any other. In an industry that has failed to harness technological development to its full potential, it is a a smart move to intentionally focus upon those who are untarnished by the ‘good old days’ of inflated-price, cd dominance that existed immediately pre-millennium; and it is all the better for it. For one thing, it made for a pleasingly ego free zone, but more importantly it created an environment unencumbered by the bitter taste of defeat, in which solutions – not problems – were the order of the day.

The accompanying Forbes piece details a more comprehensive overview of the event content, but suffice to say that clear themes developed around the notions of disruptive innovation, the artist being at the epicentre of the creative process, the necessity for transparency and the application of technology as a means of enabling and expanding the unique experiential nature of music. Barely a mention of piracy… This was an event with its eye on the future, not on the past.

Moreover, event curators Media Insight Consulting understand the value of meaningful networking over the collection of vast quantities of business cards, hence restricting numbers, and providing enough social space around the conference content to allow lasting business relationships to develop.

Make no mistake, Fast Forward has already earned its place on the calendar.


  Click on the Forbes logo to read an accompanying piece which takes an in depth look at the conference.