London A Cappella Revisited (I): Competition, Media, Recordings
by Michele Manzotti, journalist
I was in the audience of the panel discussion at London A Cappella Festival 2012. As Florian knows, I had to do another job that afternoon, being part of the “Single Singers” debut, and I mostly focused on that. At the same time I made some reflections that are not strictly related to topics discussed that afternoon, but I think they could be useful for some of the Vocal Blog readers.
Competition. I approve of competitions between a cappella groups. Well, at least for the young ones. Comparing the work you do to that of others is always useful and is an opportunity for growth and improvement. At the same time a competition has to be a starting point, not an arriving one, for a following career. I can talk about an experience in another genre: Since 2002 I’ve been part of the jury of the “Rock Contest”, a national competition for young musicians run by a radio station (Controradio) with the support of Mayor of Firenze and Toscana Region. The winner is rewarded with two days in a professional recording studio and a coaching by well-known musicians. The six finalists and the six semifinalists are included in a CD compilation, given to the bands for free for self-promotion, and digital distribution is guaranteed for the whole 36 groups selected for the competition. Last but not least, the organization provides some opportunities to perform in Firenze area. The results: a significant number of musicians started up a semi-professional independent rock career in Italy. Could something like that be possible in the cappella world, too?
Media. Social networks are very useful for knowing what’s happening in the a cappella scene. They can be used for sharing contacts and experiences. But for letting the audience know that the scene does exist, other media (newspapers, radio, TV) are still important and have to be a priority for every musician. I can say this from my experience as a journalist and press officer – two jobs that have similar titles, but are opposite in their aims. An article, a TV or radio show, even a brief announcement of a concert is quite valuable for anyone who’s on stage or has released an album.
Recordings. During most parts of my life , I found it a pleasure to wait for the launch of a new album and the buy it in record shops. Times have changed. Today discography as a discipline is on the decline, while music is often distributed and sold digitally. But an independent discography can be quite useful, as it presents products to the customer that are otherwise hidden in the particular niche. Why not involve independent labels or create an international one focused on a cappella music?
Michele Manzotti, is a journalist and a cappella enthusiast from Florence, Italy. He is also a founding member of the fabulous “Single Singers” project, that premiered at 2012′s London A Cappella Festival.