The Electronic Sound Summit in Liverpool is an event for aspiring DJs with talks and panels offering advice for producing, cracking the business, and more.
The Sound Summit starts by weeding out house-party wannabes with high ticket prices and poor signage for the stages. Instead, the event aims to cater to the designer-beanie wearing, stubble-beard attempting, straight-cigarette smoking DJing semi-elite.
The festival has three stages. One featured professional speakers demonstrating how they create and mix their tracks; and two with panels discussing the importance of things such as using social media for PR, finding management, and issues related to the scene.
Various producers, including collective, Detroit Swindle, highlighted the key parts of the weekend. Producers sat in front of a widescreen showcasing their songs using Ableton and Logic while explaining how they did it. Although offering valuable insight on fine-tuning songs, how useful they could be? It’s a lot easier to display how to correctly use reverb and cultivate samples than how to spontaneously develop a banging tune — and the term “just mess around until it works” was heard with uncomfortable frequency given the cost of the event.
But these talks weren’t for amateurs. For many guests, these snippets of ideas were incredibly useful. Especially when professionals played and critiqued the audiences own submitted mixes on stage. Something the surprisingly close to 1:1 ratio of speakers to guests lent itself well to.
Perhaps the most enlightening part for visitors was the business aspects, arguably what semi-pros struggle with the most. Covering the art of the warm-up DJ, the dying of small labels, and generally ‘how to thrive, not just survive’ helping explain how to make the most of your talent.
As well as this, the Electronic Sound Summit had some topics of interest. Conversations about drug testing at raves, and life as a ghost producer were particularly fascinating moments.
Oddly, one of the most exciting parts was the venue itself. The BME building, where the main stage sat, hosts a huge variety of iconic music memorabilia and instruments; such as handwritten lyrics and letters from David Bowie, Freddie Mercury, and Buddy Holly to name a few. Also notable were a variety of free-to-play guitars, electronic drum kits, samplers, and keyboards.
The Electronic Sound Summit is designed for a very specific group of people with a very specific skillset. People that are moments away from breaking through and in need of the final essential shreds of direction. The Sound Summit is designed to perfection for this audience and purpose. But for anyone else, it felt lacking, and awkwardly stuffed between big picture ideas for amateurs and hyper-detailed analysis for professionals.
If you want to DJ, have spent between one and three years producing obsessively, and have mastered all but what makes success, then the Electronic Sound Summit is for you.
If not, then that ticket is money that should be put into the Glasto 2021 jar instead.