Well it is the morning after the day before. Head is not too sore after a mountain of beer (A lot of it free) and a lot of talking and thinking. Yep it was certainly a fun packed second day at the You Are in Control conference. There was a lot of networking and discussions about how digital media and the internet was changing the creative business world.
there are many things i could go on about but here are a few things i managed to come away with…..
There were some seriously smart, motivated people at this conference. and quite a few of them were Icelandic! This conference gave me the opportunity to meet with guys like Paul Sullivan and Simon Iddol for the first time. But there were several others who made a good impression on me….
- Nick Knowles, who runs the marketing and press for Iceland Airwaves. Had some really good discussions with him about the Icelandic music scene and about how Airwaves is run. Learned more about the music scene after 15 minutes with him than i did after THREE full documentaries about the Icelandic music scene. Also told me that they tried to get Mastodon for airwaves but alas scheduling made them unavailable to attend. Damn!!
- Kamilla Ingibergsdóttir. As one of the organisers of the conference, she was everywhere! I never saw her slow down once the entire time i saw her. Whether this is due to her enthusiasm, or a crippling addiction to meth laced coffee I can’t say for certain, but she was a very sharp operator.
- John Rogers. As well as lots of writing about the music industry, John also runs Brainlove records. Had some great chats about music and what he gets up to in general. Also has a finely trimmed and manly beard, which is always a plus in my book.
- Jónas Antonsson. He’s the CEO of games company GoGogic. We discussed about the Icelandic business and the state of business in Iceland in general. Also was smart enough to get home early on friday night and get some sleep while the rest of us were trying to commit beericide and attempted to crawl into our shoes.
- Yancey Strickler. This guy helped found Kickstarter, which I’ve heard many people on the Whitechapel forums talk about. Listening him speak about the nature of fame and how creative people should measure success was both funny and enlightening.
- Guðný Lára Thorarensen: She promotes the Eistnaflug festival and we shared some great stories about this years festival and also how much effort was put into it.
And of course there were so many other people i could mention, but it would take WAAAAAY too long, and life is too short.
Obviously in a conference like this, it’s all about sharing ideas and ways of doing things. Watching the discussion workshops was a bit of an eye opener as people argued and tussled with concepts such as the role of copyright, how to make your content affect the character and involvement of the people who use it, what business models will work in the future digital world etc, etc. Towards the end, my head started to hurt with all this thinking that i was being bombarded with. But it was a healthy pain in the end. Thinking is good.
One of the big parts of YAIC was the promotion of Icelandic Music. there were numerous artists there including Mammút and Agent Fresco (Man those guys get around don’t they?), Dikta, Lay Low and Lára. I also managed to meet for the first time Ólafur Arnalds and he was a very charming, if painfully thin, fellow. Ólafur, the next time i see you, I’m buying you a big steak! I also met Alex, the singer from Kimono, who was there in his role with Gogoyoko. All i can say is that Canadians rule, despite me trying to persuade him to come and see some metal bands later that evening.
In terms of performed music, the highlights from me were Nóra, who played at the reception on Friday, and Sóley who played both at the conference and at the Grapevine Grassroots concert last night. Very skillful musician who also has that obscure talent ignored by most singer songwriters in Iceland of actually making decent songs. One to watch out for…
THE FREE STUFF!!
Of course it wouldn’t be a decent conference without being given some free stuff. Of course we were treated to come great food on Saturday (and possibly the first time I’ve ever had pork cooked properly in Iceland) and way too much free booze on both days (i did sort of help myself to a six-pack of Kaldi beer for the Journey home). I also received some music goodies in the form of the latest album from Faroeise singer Eivør Pálsdóttir, and the debut album from Orphic Oxtra. Both of these shall be listened to on the farm this afternoon.
Now anyone who knows me (and that really isn’t many people) know that sometimes it gets me down about how blinkered Icelanders can be when it comes to their choices in society, business and politics. There just aren’t a lot of Icelanders who can see “the big picture” so to speak. But this conference had a lot of Icelanders who i could definitely say were not only big picture people, but also had the air of professionalism and competency that is often lacking with many icelandic businesses these days.
Also one thing that you get told by the old guard is that Creative industries are all nice and fluffy but aren’t the real, proper, job creating businesses that fishing and smelters are.
But a presentation given by a nice British Gent named Colin Mercer, has given me cause for hope. His work on mapping the creative industries in Iceland showed, for example, that turnover in 2009 surpassed that of Agriculture and wasn’t too far off that of the exalted status of the Fishing industry. If things continue are they are, CCIs will become a major dominance in Iceland. It’s just up to the people in the conference to start turning the heads of policy makers and business in Iceland that there is another way of doing things that won’t fuck up the country.
so all in all it was a day that exceeded my expectations really. I need to gatecrash more of these conference, because sometimes listening to intelligent people say intelligent things can be better than a bottle of anti depressants any day!