Composite image From Now On Festival

Exploiting the challenges of digital music and arts journalism

Does geography matter in the digital age? How are new digital models impacting on objective music and arts journalism? And how can composers and musicians exploit these new platforms?

These and many other and knotty and timely issues will be unraveled by an international line-up of music promoters, programmers, producers, funders and composers in next week’s annual Third Ear Symposium at the Southbank Centre in London.

Ed McKeon, a partner at  Third Ear Music Production, says the shifting and dissolving boundaries between arts and media organisations are throwing up myriad challenges and opportunities.

“The profession of arts journalism is being challenged as costs are minimised, leading to much greater media fragmentation and a reliance on ready-made news, often close at hand to the media base: London. So where can reliable news on the arts be found? How can London-based national media organisations reflect the diversity of work made and presented across the country? In this digital age, is geography still so important?”

hub director Julia Payne says the themes being tackled by the symposium really chime with her Joining the Dots project. “It will be fascinating to hear how the speakers respond to the debates around autonomy, creativity, location and ownership within the changing landscape of music  journalism.

Speakers at the Symposium include:

    • Lindsey Clarke, Managing Director of, a website all about London with a strong focus on arts, culture and things to do. Achieving over two million page views a month and reaching over half a million followers on social media.
    • Matthew Caines, editor of the Guardian’s Culture Professionals Network, the online news, comment and community site for those working in arts, culture and heritage and also media partner to the hub’s Joining the Dots project.
    • Helen Stallard, who was the lead PR for the Cultural Olympiad and London 2012 Festival in the West Midlands. She will explain how public relations people work and how you can get the most from them.
    • Natalie Kane, storyteller and technologist for of digital culture agency Lighthouse. She will be running a short workshop asking how composers and musicians can use these new platforms to best effect.
    • Nick Sherrard, Head of Development, Digital & Communications at Sound and Music and a passionate believer in the way digital media creates opportunities, as well as disruptions, to the way artists and listeners explore music.
    • Lee Etherington whose frustration that Newcastle had seemingly slipped from the touring map turned him into a one-man promotion machine – presenting 150 events and two festivals over a decade, launching a label and founding the annual TUSK Festival, known for its diverse programming.

Composer Emma-Ruth Richards describes the symposium as: “Full of enlightening and real discussions about the music industry that leave you more inspired to make better music and keep doing what we love.”

This year’s Third Ear Symposium is taking place on Friday, 4 July, with Third Ear once again joining forces with Southbank Centre. Tickets for the symposium, which runs from 10.30 am to 5pm, cost £50 and are available from the Southbank Centre box office. For students, 15 tickets are available at a 50% discount, on a first come first serve basis, simply enter the promotional code STUDENT.

Image courtesy of the From Now On Festival.