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International music conference organiser Un-Convention has announced the first wave of speakers for its return to Manchester at the O2 Ritz (cap. 1,500) on 8-9 July.

The conference will see artists, industry professionals and organisations come together to reflect on the impact of Covid-19 on the independent music scene and discuss future steps.

The event will run with a limited capacity in accordance with Covid-19 regulations, with support from Arts Council England, Creative Europe, the Musicians’ Union and StreamGM.

Speakers announced for the event include Radiohead’s Ed O’Brien, Mogwai’s Stuart Braithwaite, Manchester Mayor Andy Burnham and Mark Davyd and Bev Whitrick from the Music Venue Trust.

Organisations such as Driift and the Manchester chapter of United We Stream (now rebranding as StreamGM) will explain how they connected with audiences around the world in 2020.

The event will feature analysis on the state of the independent music sector, with insights from Paul Reed (Association of Independent Festivals), Annabella Coldrick (Music Managers Forum), Lucie Caswell (Music Publishers Association), David Martin (Featured Artists Coalition) and Kelly Wood (Musicians’ Union).

The programme will also explore the reopening of regional music scenes and the challenges of Brexit, with panellists including artists Laurie Vincent of Slaves, Sara Leigh Shaw of The Pearl Harts, and John Robb of The Membranes. Managers such as Trevor Dietz, Shikayla Nadine and Conrad Murray will also feature along with independent promoters, labels, venues and festival organisers.

The event will showcase 20 new business ideas for the music sector, covering subjects such as virtual reality and mental health, as part of the JUMP European Music Market Accelerator, a Creative Europe funded project which partners Un-Convention with MaMA Festival (France), MIL (Portugal), Nouvelle Prague (Czech Republic), Linecheck (Italy) and Athens Music Week (Greece), along with a team of industry professionals and mentors to help support emerging entrepreneurs

Un-Convention co-founder Jeff Thompson said, “Our hope for the two days is that it gives people a chance to reconnect, to talk about how we move forward, and to discuss what we still need to fix. Our last event took place in early March 2020 and at the time there was a real optimism about the state of independent music, so really we’re hoping that we’re now at a point where we pick up some of those conversations again and see how we can work together to get artists, organisations, music scenes and the wider sector flourishing again.”