The iMPACT Conference last month at Goldsmiths, University of London brought together a vibrant group of Christian creatives of all ages and walks under one roof for a day of learning, encouragement and networking. Many just starting out on their journey were blessed by pearls of wisdom from the speakers who have been actively working in the creative field for decades, selflessly willing to share their experience to empower others and build community.
The opening address by host Dr Pauline Muir of Goldsmith University’s Institute of Creative and Cultural Entrepreneurship (ICCE) underlined the need for UK Gospel music to receive due recognition. Her research illustrated the fact that there are no black UK artists currently featured in the CCLI Top 100 worldwide. This was seconded by Anu Omideyi, who shared the strategy behind the recent successful launch of The Liverpool Gospel Music Festival, a challenge as there is currently no public funding for Gospel music apart from one Arts Council grant to Liverpool Lighthouse.
The programme featured a number of industry panels, highlighting success stories of individuals such as Derrick Tchie of Gospel Hydration, who attended the predecessor of iMPACT conference prior to the pandemic. Derrick was inspired to build up his award-winning platform, with the latest news being a partnership with the iconic Integrity Music, confirmed by Business Development Director Mark Bowater, also present. Another example is Mannyade who set up The CHH Collective originally to simply find others who also enjoy listening to Christian Hip Hop, only for it to grow to a network of over 300 creatives, including many of the artists whose music was his original inspiration.
Key messages from panelists:
When it comes to the product, give thought to the end result you want to see. Consider who is your audience by tracking results and use the data. – Audrey Gray, Industry Developer
Give it over to God and let him have His way, as he will always surprise every one of us by taking our ideas and making them into something much bigger than we planned. Really our ideas are His ideas flowing through us so involving Him will make them greater, making sure we have that connection so our vision is in line with His. – Fabio D’Andrea, Composer & Director
The process of creating music from the initial skeleton of an idea to adding full flesh and bones is an expensive one, so consider your market before you take that step. For example, if it’s a limited demographic of say 8-10 year olds it will do less than something with wider appeal. – Chibuzo Okoro, HFP Music
When releasing music unless you are Ed Sheeran or Beyonce don’t use ‘coming soon’ as a plug – no one cares – so just drop the music and then promo. – Yinka Mode, Presenter
NB. However make sure you submit your song to the UK Christian Charts through our website for it to be heard by a panel of industry experts and get further promotion!
With 80’s the first golden age of gospel music in the UK I believe we are now seeing another wave. With so much music being created – globally Christian / Gospel musicians are estimated to release a million songs per year – being heard is a challenge for artists. Remember you are your biggest asset. God has made everyone unique and there is only one of you. You will maximise your potential by first and foremost being yourself, sharing your unique perspective. As creatives, comparison is a killer. – Chris Lawson Jones, Wings Music Group
If you don’t have a call you will get frustrated, so you need radical clarity and then consider how you will present it. What is your trademark? I use colour to explore this, for example when you see me you will always see yellow. – Eloho Efemuai, Heartsong Live Radio
Keith Kirk explained to a rapt audience the vital importance of understanding Metadata, how when music is released with a UPC or ISRC code it is estimated to potentially provide up to 100,000 different income streams. Much of this is lost due to around 60% of songs having data issues which if fixed increase income an estimated 40%. “If as an artists you use a code from a reseller… kiss goodbye to fully monetizing the asset. Explore other options where possible.” – Keith Kirk, Metadata specialist, Motif Music
Keynote speaker Muyiwa Olarewaju OBE of Premier Gospel, a true pioneer of UK Gospel, shared his personal journey with encouraging examples of how time and again he had achieved the impossible with God opening doors and selling out huge venues such as Hammersmith Apollo when it seemed unfeasible from a human standpoint.
O’Neil Dennis, founder of AStepFWD, encouraged the audience: “Whatever journey you are on creatively, be willing not to rush it – savour the experiences and people you meet along the way. You never know how deep God wants to root you. Sometimes we want to move on but God wants us to settle for a while. Trust his timing as there may be a bigger purpose he has in mind, so allow him to strengthen you in preparation, do not rush it.”
The iMPACT conference was made possible thanks to the generous support of Goldsmiths University that not only made the Professor Stuart Hall building available but also provided a sumptuous lunch appreciated by all in attendance. The iMPACT conference was run by a group of aStepFWD volunteers headed by the multi-talented Ore aka ‘JudahEl’ with huge thanks to the incredible speakers that all gave their time.
The iMPACT conference will return in 2024 so please follow @astepfwd for updates.