If all of this energy, wisdom and news about independent initiatives came from one room of people at a conference on a Friday afternoon, imagine what could be achieved if we could multiply this and connect it to every level of the industry and to those who make decisions nationally and internationally about funding and policy development.
When the band I was in was gathering interest from the music industry in the mid 1970s, we weren't having to compete with Gerry and the Pacemakers, The Searchers, The Hollies, The Tremolos, the Four Pennies, Heinz, Wayne Fontana, Amen Corner and all those other great bands from the 1960s, because they had either moved on to other careers or had jumped to the cabaret circuit.
The current debates around gender bias in live music (specifically festival lineups) are important but people are focused too closely on the big names and headliners. I think we learn more looking at the smaller stages and events specifically aimed at 'emerging artists'. I've done two quick bits of number crunching in that area and found more optimistic results.
Last month I wrote a piece entitled 'Leopards And Spots - Why The Labels Never Change'. It was about record companies and the relationship that they have with performers. I compared my own personal experience of record companies and publishers back in the 1970s with the contracts that I now see being offered to MU members on a weekly basis.
Further, the lines between professional musician and skilled amateur are blurring. A year ago punkster Amanda Palmer wrote an extremely eloquent open letter on playing music for free, and working with unpaid musicians. She insists that she wouldn't have been able to achieve the success that she has without having the chance to play unpaid gigs.