From creation to distribution, the Westway LAB passes the fine comb the steps of the music industry
In the first days of the 6th edition of the festival the gray zones of the production were discussed, a new national digital distributor was known and the creativity was witnessed. In the second half of the event the focus goes to music made in Canada.
Written By: André Vieira
It is hoped that in a festival that dedicates four days around the discussion, promotion and musical creation, where are musicians, agents, representatives of festivals or producers from diverse points of the globe, part of the time is passed to share music, taking advantage of all the moments possible to create contact networks and to disseminate the most recent compositions by rising artists. In Guimarães, in the first two days of the 6th edition of Westway LAB , more dedicated to the conferences and the musical creation process, as expected, this expectation was fulfilled.
We were in other times - it would not be necessary to go back more than a decade - and part of the Vila Flor Cultural Center area (CCVF), base space of this festival organized by the Workshop, would be occupied by discus stands and other promotional material. Gone are those times and that is not why the same design is not fulfilled. The music - singles, demos, albums - continues to be shared, but on links that target streaming platforms like Spotify, Deezer, YouTube or Apple Music.
The absence of physical support in this type of meeting reveals well the paradigm shift the music industry has undergone in recent years and at the same time, it alerts the urgency of a digital reinforcement to any band that wants to go further.
That is why, following this logic and filling a gap that still existed, Level Up was created, according to the mentor of this project, Ana Rita Feijão, the first Portuguese digital distributor for independent musicians. On Friday, she moderated one of the Vila Flor Palace conferences, dedicated to the area in which she moves, with a panel composed of a Deezer playlister , Robin Vincent, and a digital consultant who works with the various platforms of streaming , Wesley A'Harrah.
He underlined the latter, in one of the conclusions of this debate, that it makes no sense to give in to the purist temptation of continuing to edit albums only in physical format, when each click or download on a streaming platform is worth money and is accessible to a much larger market. There is nothing to prevent, he says, from continuing to launch physical editions, but in an increasingly appealing package for collectors with limited editions.
It is to bridge the gap between artists and streaming platforms that, in February, a still-testing version of Level Up was released for musicians based in Portugal. It is not that access to these channels is forbidden to national musicians, who, for the most part, already have their discography available in streaming . The step forward, says the project's mentor, is, as a result of the proximity, to allow artists a more direct contact with who distributes their music, which until now was limited to a "dialogue made online" with foreign intermediaries. With this distributor there is the chance of a face-to-face meeting.
For now, they have a catalog with only ten artists. Only by the end of the year will it be in full swing. Importantly, in the first phase, he says, he was able to establish the necessary contacts to reach all platforms. For this, the support of AMAEI - Association of Independent Artists and Independent Publishers and the link created with the British Merlin, association that represents the independent community in the digital market contributed.
Still a prototype, only when the machine is oiled will the catalog open to other artists, who will also provide support in the "monitoring and monetization" of its contents. Ana Rita, emphasizes that artists do not have to pay any amount to be part of Level Up. The distributor will select their catalog and negotiate the revenue margins with the musicians: "All the revenue comes from the platforms and is defined by the plays and downloads of each service ".
The gray zones between composition and production
Getting the music to the distribution channels is just one of the stages of the process, in this case, already post-musical creation. Before that we must compose and produce it. To discuss the gray areas between composition and production, Ricardo Ferreira (producer) and Rui Ribeiro (composer / producer) took one of the conferences on Thursday to show some examples of what studio supervision work can do for a song still in sketch phase. The question arises: "When does composition end and production begins?". These are questions with different answers. Consensus is that the work between musician and producer can only work in full if, although the discussion may be long, there is confidence in the work of each one of the parties.
This is a festival that passes the fine comb all steps of the machine which is the music industry. At the basis of all is creation, upon which all subsequent steps depend. And it is also before the festival begins that Westway LAB, through the artistic residences that bring together pairs of national and international musicians, gives space to creativity.
Laboratory for creation
Without producers, only with the instruments and the time limit of little more than a week, musical projects were born in the Center of Creation of Candoso formed by musicians who did not know, that seem never to have touched with other members. In the first two days of the event, in addition to the conferences, the focus was on the showcases , the result of these artistic residences, at the CCVF Café-concert.
The melancholy of the Vimaranian Captain Boy seems to have found a kind of missing link in the sensual and magnetic pop of the Italian Violetta Zironi, who the next day, Thursday, had the opportunity to show by itself that probably will be a name that we will hear again. The venezuelan based in Porto, Yosune, in pair with the Canadians Tribe Royal, with its cuatro, traditional viola of Venezuela, here in an altered version with a pickup that turns it into an electric instrument, proved that it is possible to make rock'n'roll with any instrument if the attitude is in the right place.
In another hemisphere, that of electronics, João Pascoal, known for his works with Happy Mass and Mirror People , joined Sofia Ribeiro (Lince) for a game of organic synthesizers and more ethereal keyboards, which makes us wonder if the material presented in the showcases should not be eternalized in the studio. Beatriz Nunes and Austrian duo Mickey ended their sessions on Thursday, leaving those who are betting on these creative encounters with musicians rested.
In the gatherings marked in spaces scattered around the city to make themselves known a little more about the experience in Candoso, the musicians revealed to be satisfied with what was born there. In Tasquinha do Uncle Julio, there were those who asked if, in the event of a fund for co-creation between bands, what would be the willingness to repeat the experience. They responded with a unanimous yes.
BIME is looking for Portuguese bands
In the Westway LAB objectives list, part of the European Talent Exchange Program (ETEP) and INES - Innovation Network of European Showcases, the exchange of artists between countries belonging to the same network is encouraged. On Wednesday, a representative of BIME Pro, a festival in Bilbao scheduled for the end of October, announced that for the first time an open call is taking place for Portuguese bands that want to play there. The registration deadline for this partnership with the Portuguese music internationalization office, Why Portugal, ends on 15 May.
On the start day, Wednesday, Jacco Gardner, who also was on Thursday in Tremor, in the Azores, and this Saturday in Lisbon (Teatro Ibérico), presented the new Somnium, in the Box of the CCVF - an immersive experience in quadrifonia, with the Dutch playing in the center of the audience sitting in four rows of chairs.
This Friday, at Westway LAB, the focus is on the Canadian delegation, the country in focus at this year's edition, after Austria last year. Songwriters Sarah MacDougall and Megan Nash, The East Pointers, Tribe Royal and the duo Les Deuxluxes are featured, as well as the Portuguese artists Vaarwell, Marta Pereira da Costa and Neev. Tomorrow they still go through the various stages of the same space The Black Mamba, Beat which features: The Almost Perfect DJ and Tashi Wada Group with Julia Holter. In the afternoon, in different venues of the city, they play the Vimaranenses Captain Boy, Paraguai and Mister Roland, the three with new album and the indie-pop of the Mickey, the pop of the Swedish Elin Namnieks, the indie-rock of Izzy and the Black Trees , from Poland, the multi-instrumentalist and Greek composer Theodore and the Portuguese Holy Nothing,
PUBLIC is at the festival by invitation of Westway LAB