HMUK's visit to Xpo North festival in Inverness
Tigerlily Raphael
Creative Programme Assistant
19th June 2017
HMUK's visit to Xpo North festival in Inverness

Xpo North, Scotland’s leading creative industries festival, is bringing together arts organisations from Scotland, the UK and the world!

Help Musicians UK (HMUK) were lucky enough to attend, where we hosted a trade stand on Wednesday (7 June) and got stuck into the conference on Thursday (8 June), plus a whole bunch of gigs between. The diverse programme and rich content meant that we came away with a vivid and colourful picture of Scotland’s music industry, as well as its wider creative network.

Formerly known as Go North, a music-only showcase, the new multi-faceted event has grown from 100 attendees to over 2,000 public and international industry leaders. The development of the event is largely down to the phenomenon that is Amanda Millen, Director of Xpo North for the last 5 years, who leaves for new pastures after this year’s event, but assured us in her closing speech that she will still be standing by the event for years to come.

Unique in Scotland, the festival includes crafts, fashion, textiles, writing and publishing, screen, gaming, broadcast, and of course, music. Funded by the Highlands & Islands Enterprise and Creative Scotland, Xpo North has played a major part in developing creative talent in the region. There was so much to see and discover that it was impossible to take it all in, but the promise of the creative economy in Scotland was perfectly represented by Xpo North and was inspiring to see.

Industry, artists and students buzzed around a Tech Playground sponsored by Developing the Young Workforce, a specially-curated short film programme, as well as a broad selection of panels and seminars covering all corners of the creative industry. Capturing the spirit of the event was the ‘Building the Economy on Creativity’ talk, by Halla Helgadottir (Icelandic Design Centre and Design March), & María del Blanco (Bilbao Ekintza), who gave fascinating examples of the combined approach of the creative sector in their countries to drive economy, and the roles of government, architecture and strategy.

Elsewhere, we heard all about the music publishing industry from the ‘international music buyers’ and the Music Publishers Association and PRS, keen to inform musicians about how to generate income through sync. Creative Scotland taught us about what they fund and how, the Scottish Music Industry Association dissected the expanding independent label sector,  and we heard from Victor Cobos (M&C Saatchi) and Josh Rabinowitz (Townhouse) about ‘the growing importance of brands in today’s creative industries’. We also had the opportunity to meet some of the artists we've supported through schemes such as the Emerging Artists Fund.

At night, the small town centre of Inverness was the perfect setting for a showcase spanning multiple venues, all within a 2-minute walk of one another, making it easy for us to jump between bands and get the most out of the program. Particular highlights for us were Tamzene - the first signing to Belladrum Records, Future Get Down, Michiel Turner and Static Union.

Gearing up for launching Help Musicians Scotland, it was very positive and exciting to see what’s happening all over Scotland and we look forward to being a part of it.

Catch HMUK at the Scottish Album of the Year (SAY) Awards on June 28th – check out the shortlist here!