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c&binet hits the headlines

Valerie | 09 Nov 2009, 16:17

It’s only been two weeks since the inaugural c&binet forum and the widespread media coverage generated in the build up, during and post event indicates that interest has certainly not died down. 

Although much of the media spotlight was on Lord Mandelson’s announcement in which he introduced tough new measures to combat persistent illegal filesharing, there were a number of other themes that also came through in the numerous pieces of print, online and blog coverage and indeed, via the live Twitterfeed, where, at one stage, #cabinetforum trended at number three in the top 10 most popular Twitter tags.

Media headlines from Government committed to upholding copyright laws to “c&binet conference: Advertising the key” and “c@binet Forum showed that the UK games industry is leading the way in creativity and in business innovation” illustrate the diversity of discussions that took place during the three days, which ranged from the IP and copyright debate to the future of TV and new business models.

There was overriding consensus on the exciting opportunities afforded by the shifting landscape in which “content is king” and “consumers are in control” in this new digital world. As the Guardian reported, Simon Fuller argued that there is still room for many players in the emerging digital media market, whilst Ariadne Capital’s Julie Meyer proclaimed that “content is the new software”, a welcome message surely for many.

The #cabinetforum twitter feed is perhaps even more revealing in understanding reaction to the event and the issues discussed from the audience and those following in cyberspace. Feedback ranged from “c&binet: looks like the place to be today” to “user/audience generated content - live. Interesting to hear” and “c&binet, an historic event, one we need 2 build on - internationalising the big challenge & big opportunity”. It was also good to hear that “Twitter was a great part of #cabinetforum” – it hopefully provided a platform for enabling open and honest discussion in addition to the live updates from the event, enabling people from as far afield as Vietnam and India to listen and participate in the event.

To quote Gamesbrief, c&binet was certainly an excellent start at getting the creative industries to talk to each other about new ways of collaborating and the lessons learned will no doubt pave the way for further discussion about the future of c&binet and its evolving agenda.

Media & blog coverage:

Two weeks until the ‘Cabinet Forum’...
Creative Times, published 15.10.09

Coutts backs C&binet
Music Week, published: 20.10.09

Strike one to c&binet proposals
Music Week, published 07.11.09

c&binet conference: Advertising the key, says Highfield
Media Week, published: 27.10.09 – 1:23pm

C&binet Conference: Government committed to upholding copyright laws
Media Week, published: 27.10.09 – 2:45pm

@ c&binet: Creative Industries So Far Divided On The Way Ahead
PaidContent, published: 27.10.09 – 6.15 am

@c&binet: Free Content Must Pack a Paid Punch
PaidContent, published: 27.10.09 – 8:29pm

@ c&binet: Vivendi Wants UK ‘Three-Strikes’, Mandelson Announcement Due Wednesday
PaidContent, published: 27.10.09 – 2:45pm

Consider charging for iPlayer, says ex-BBC executive Ashley Highfield
Guardian, published: 27.10.09 – 1:56pm

David Lammy calls for pan-European approach to copyright protection
Guardian, published: 27.10.09 – 4:50pm

EMI’s Leoni-Sceti Calls For ‘Three Strikes’ Law
Billboard, published: 27.10.09

Government calls on Europe to clear up copyright
Music Week, published: 27.10.09 - 10:10am

The promise of Creative Britain
Wired UK, published: 27.10.09

Vivendi head calls for ‘three-strikes’ rule to tackle UK filesharers
Guardian,published: 27.10.09 - 12:07pm

Vivendi CEO says IPO an option for NBC Universal
Reuters, published: 27.10.09 – 7:19pm BJT

c&binet conference: Mandelson reveals ‘three strikes’ rule on illegal downloading
Media Week, published: 28.10.09

Cabinet Forum showed that the UK games industry is leading the way in creativity and in business innovation
Games Brief, published: 28.10.09

Content is king in digital age, says Simon Fuller
Guardian, published: 28.10.09 – 07:21 am

Costs would exceed savings on Mandelson plan, ISPs say - and streaming companies not eager either
Guardian – Technology Blog, published: 28.10.09

Julie Meyer: “Content is the New Software”
Real Business, published: 28.10.09

Mandelson puts ‘three strikes’ internet plan in motion
ZD Net, published: 28.10.09 – 05:38 pm,1000000097,39843951,00.htm

Music boss: Mandelson is wrong on internet pirates
Times Online, published: 28.10.09

Net Pirates to be ‘disconnected’
BBC, published: 28.10.09

TV of the future ‘will predict what you want to watch’
Telegraph, published: 28.10.09 – 8:00 am

UK Will Urge EC To Legalise Mashups, Format-Shifting, Content Sharing
PaidContent, published: 28.10.09 – 12.48 pm

Cost of Mandelson plan would come to more than savings
Broadband Expert, published: 29.10.09

Government to protect ‘creative’ contractors
Brookson, published: 29.10.09

Illegal downloaders face web ban
Press Association, published: 29.10.09

Is the internet heading for a midlife crisis as it hits its 40th birthday?SC Magazine
SC Magazine, published: 29.10.09

JP Rangaswami on Lord Mandelson’s piracy plans
Telegraph, published: 29.10.09

Mandelson delivers on three-strikes warning. But will it make Pirates pay, or drive them underground?
Daily Mail, published: 29.10.09

Peter Mandelson goes to war on web pirates
Daily Mail, published: 29.10.09

Saving local journalism: some thoughts ahead of C&binet
Onlinejournalism Blog, published: 29.10.09

TalkTalk Threatens Legal Action Over Mandelson’s File-Sharing Strategy
eWeek Europe, published: 29.10.09

C&binet fever
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 26.10.09

C&binet Commentary
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 26.10.09

C&binet Creative Infrastructure Thoughts
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 26.10.09

Disruption and curiosity: #outofthecloset unconference
Pervasive Media Studio, published: 28.10.09

A c&binet unconference
Nameless Freerange Creatives, published: 29.10.09





British Council Young Creative Entrepreneurs to attend first night of c&binet

Alastair | 21 Oct 2009, 09:21

On the first night of c&binet there will a delegation from the British Council Young Creative Entrepreneurs Club.  All club members have either won, shortlisted or interviewed for one of the prestigious Young Creative Entrepreneur Awards run by the British Council.  You can find out more at Creative Economy    It is likely that from this group there will emerge some of the next generation of leaders in the creative economy, so we are delighted to be welcoming them to c&binet.  This connects to c&binet’s desire to showcase some of the best young talent from the creative industries.  Those attending are listed below.

Abir Boukhari
Christoph Burgdorfer
Tom Chalmers
Sam Conniff
Andrea Cornwell
Daniel Crewe
Ruth Daniel
Arvind Ethan David
Alan Dempsey
Clare Edwards
Simon Freeth
John Fulljames
Rama Gheerawo
Emma Hayley
Michael George Hemus
Anna Higgs
Teun Hilte
Samuel Hodges
Thomas Hunt
Richard Jordan
Chris Kempt
Kerry Kolbe
Jamie Laux
Alex Lavery
Lanre Lawal
Eleanor Lloyd
Mark Meharry
Anita Ondine
Ottilia Ordog
Geraldine Patten
Deborah Szebeko
Chua Thai
Ben Todd
Aneesh Varma
Philip Wood
Peter Collingridge
Clare Reddington

Creativity and Commerce

Valerie | 12 Oct 2009, 16:10

C&binet ambassador comment: Patrick McKenna, Chief Executive of Ingenious Media, a leading investor in the creative industries.

Creativity and commerce often make uneasy bedfellows.  Here, in an interview first published in HOUSE magazine, Patrick McKenna talks about how we need to get entrepreneurial business talent and creative talent working better together.

“Creative talent is highly mobile and UK creative talent is particularly attractive to global companies. Whilst this isn’t a bad thing in itself, we must build greater business capacity within our own creative industries so that the UK can benefit from the commercial opportunities generated by our writers, producers, musicians and other artists”.

The relationship between art and commerce has always been fraught.  Business and creative people are often motivated by quite different impulses. There doesn’t have to be conflict of course.  Having worked with some of the biggest names in the creative world – from rock stars to theatre directors – I know from long personal experience just how rewarding, enjoyable and productive good partnerships can be when you get the essentials of the relationship right.

The UK has always had a strong entrepreneurial culture to complement the strength of its artistic culture.  This combination of attributes reflecting two different forms of creativity has often proved beneficial in helping to fuse the needs of art and commerce. 

In small businesses the benefits of matching such different skill-sets are usually obvious.  However it’s often not so obvious when it comes to bigger businesses.  Here there is frequently a gulf of understanding and trust to bridge - between finance and investment on one side, and creativity on the other. 

As a young partner in one of the major accounting firms I could see the growing importance of talent to business and therefore took a very conscious decision to learn everything possible about the entertainment world - how the relevant bits of the legal system worked, how the commercial side of things worked, and most importantly how the creative process itself worked. I read up on all the technical stuff and but also spent time with some very talented individuals from film, theatre, music and television learning about their aspirations and concerns.  After that it was much easier for me to talk business with artists, managers and entertainment entrepreneurs so as to understand what was important to them and so help them to attain their commercial objectives.

Partnership is the key, particularly in an ever more competitive and complex media environment.  First there is the initial partnership between the creative artist and the entrepreneur.  Later on, when the entrepreneur wants to grow the business, another kind of partnership is called for – a partnership between the entrepreneur and a more experienced businessman or woman, someone for example who has a mastery of the financial markets.

The most successful partnerships are the ones that link a truly creative person – whether artistically or entrepreneurially creative - with a strong business person. It’s a waste of time, frankly, to expect a creative genius to become a skilled business type as well.  And conversely, a businessman or woman can never really become a truly creative person in the fullest sense, meaning someone with exceptional flair and originality. Of course we can all learn more about each other’s strengths and skill-sets, and it’s important to make this effort to get mutual recognition and respect.  But there are clear limitations on both sides. 
Entrepreneurs are visionaries who generally thrive in relationships with experienced business talent.  They tend to have very similar characteristics to creative and artistic people.  But it is a mistake to assume that all entrepreneurs are necessarily good at business. 

At the Really Useful Group my relationship with Andrew Lloyd Webber was essentially a marriage of creative and business skills – a kind of model partnership.  As long as there is clear empathy, real understanding and mutual respect for each other’s talents and abilities, then there’s no limit to what can be achieved.  This arrangement allows the individual with extraordinary creative talent to be able to concentrate completely on being creative, knowing that the money and business side of things is being taken care of.

This is not to say that creative people shouldn’t be interested in commerce – far from it.  What it means is that creative individuals in such partnerships are freer to focus on what they are best at and most interested in.

Everything we do at Ingenious is fundamentally based on this idea of partnership – it’s all about acting as a bridge between media and creativity on one side, and business and finance on the other.  We try to be sympathetic to the insights and needs of both parties.  Much of it is to do with that word experience. You need to have an exceptionally deep knowledge and understanding of progressive media and the creative economy to understand its particular “box-office” risk characteristics, to be able to execute this bridge-building function successfully.

Partnership is a two way street of course.  Sometimes creative people are not necessarily keen on full collaboration, influenced perhaps by their earlier choices of business or investment partner.  But for things to work to mutual advantage, partners on the creative side do need to be engaged with the commercial process, which means understanding the requirements of financiers as well as managing the expectations of the other partners.

People with creative talent are often shielded from the expectations of business by their relationships with managers or entrepreneurial partners, and this is no bad thing.  In such cases it is absolutely necessary for the entrepreneur to be able to balance the needs and expectations of all the interested parties.  This in turn means that they have to be more sophisticated in their interactions with the world of finance.

Building strong partnerships between business and creativity ultimately provides artists and their managers with more options. It helps them build better and bigger platforms on which to show off their talent, allows them to retain greater control over their “IP” and thereby hold onto a bigger slice of the commercial pie.
One common ingredient to success in the games, publishing, television, music and film industries, is of course great people. This may sound obvious but believe me spotting talent, whether creative or entrepreneurial talent, is by no means easy.  You can become a business hero in the entertainment world almost overnight if you can successfully identify and align yourself with an extraordinary new talent. But it’s easy to get it wrong.

All countries have their own distinctive cultures.  We are awash with creative talent in the UK, but we don’t have a culture of taking the creative industries seriously as businesses, unlike the USA.  This goes back to the education system.  There’s a lot of emphasis these days in our great art colleges on getting creative people to learn about the basics of business and entrepreneurship.  What I don’t see much of is evidence of students in business schools and on finance courses at universities being taught about the distinctive characteristics of the media and cultural industries and of the creative process.

It’s not surprising therefore that top quality business talent is rarely attracted to the creative economy sector.  There are business graduates out there who are well educated, have a choice about what kind of business to go into but generally don’t choose the creative industries because they see them as being uncertain, more about luck than judgment, or generally “flaky”, with the rewards going predominantly to “the creatives”. 

In the UK we need more investors, financiers and business folk to understand the creative process.  There is still a big gulf, generally speaking, between the worlds of creativity on the one hand, and finance and business on the other.  This is damaging to the overall prospects of the creative economy.  From an investor point of view, it is clear to me that if business people were more engaged in the creative process, understood it better and could see it working up close and personal early on, they would stand a better chance of recognising good business and investment opportunities.
Creative talent is highly mobile and UK creative talent is particularly attractive to global companies. Whilst this isn’t a bad thing in itself, we must build greater business capacity within our own creative industries so that the UK can benefit from the commercial opportunities generated by our writers, producers, musicians and other artists.  We should aim to retain more of the economic ownership of UK creativity, rather than seeing so much of the commercial upside disappearing to the USA and elsewhere.

To do that we need to build creative industry business capacity in the UK. The way to do that is by starting with small and medium-sized businesses, helping them with business and management expertise, helping them to grow sustainably and persuading them not to sell out to the first trade buyer who comes along. 

We also need to educate the financial and wider business communities to have a better understanding of the business opportunities being generated by the exciting new world of digital media.  There’s been a lot of talk about value destruction and collapsing business models, but there are also some fantastic opportunities out there if you know how to recognize them.

If we can make progress on these fronts we have the possibility of establishing a virtuous circle, where great creativity is matched by great business talent, which is matched by sustainable investment, which in turn helps generate profits and attracts better people and yet more investment, and so on.  This is a prize worth aiming for!

Creative Industries lead Iceland recovery

Valerie | 25 Sep 2009, 13:55

Iceland’s creative industries are vital to re-building the country’s economy, Iceland’s minister for Industry has told delegates in a welcome address at the country’s You Are In Control conference.

Now in its third year, YAIC explores the latest digital business developments and investment available in music, media and the arts, focusing on new business models, the impact of the digital revolution on in the creative industries and how today’s creatives can work together – all key areas that will be addressed at the c&binet forum next month.

According to the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OLED) Iceland’s economy is set for a slow but nascent recovery early next year. The OLED projects Iceland’s economic contraction at around 7 percent this year and has forecast a 0.8 percent contraction in GDP for 2010.

Having faced its deepest recession in decades and the complete collapse of its banking system, it is welcome news and demonstrates the economic potential of creative industries both in Iceland and in countries such as China and the UK, where creative sectors have become engines for regional economic development.

Iceland has long been famed for its natural beauty and in recent years its unusual landscape has attracted Hollywood movies and seen its profile grow in the international film industry, aided by films such as Stardust, Batman Begins and James Bond: Die Another Day, whilst the achievements of Björk and Sigur Ros have put Iceland firmly on the map of International Music.

Concluding his address, Katrín Júlíusdóttir, the Minister of Industry, Energy and Tourism said:

“We must get the message across that we are more than geysers, volcanos, waterfalls - and now fallen banks. Here you will also find creative people, culture and modern industries.
“... the government hopes (to) join forces with creative industries, the tourist industry and other important players to reshape the way we approach international marketing of Iceland as the source of culture, goods and services, as a destination and as a country to operate and invest in.”

£1m venture capital launch for West Midlands creative businesses

Valerie | 24 Sep 2009, 09:26

C&binet comment: Thomas Dillon, Chairman, Creative Advantage Fund, Birmingham

Today is an exciting day for me as Chairman of Creative Advantage Fund (CAF) with the launch of a new £1 million round of investment in the creative industries of the West Midlands. We support c&binet and see the project as an opportunity not only to communicate with creative business in the digital space, but also to evangelise for the role of public venture capital in the creative sector.

Since it was set up in 2000 –by Birmingham City Council and West Midlands Arts (now part of the Arts Council), with additional moneys from the regional development agency, the European Regional Development Fund and the private sector – CAF has invested over £1.3 million in creative businesses, helping Midlands-based SMEs like Hotbed Media Ltd. and Maverick Television establish themselves among the leading independent TV production companies outside London. Today we are opening up a new fund with up to £1 million being made available to small and medium sized enterprises.

CAF’s objective is to bridge the “equity gap”, addressing market failure in the provision of risk capital to SMEs in the creative sector.  With the support of Birmingham City Council, we are now actively seeking investment opportunities in our region in the range £75,000 to £150,000. Any West Midlands-based creative SME’s with an interest should contact us at

CAF uses the DCMS definition of creative industries, namely “those activities which have their origin in individual creativity, skill and talent and which have a potential for wealth and job creation through the generation and exploitation of intellectual property”. Past investments have included film, TV, theatre, educational services, toy design and software. We have gathered a great deal of experience in the practicalities of investment in the sector and work sympathetically with creative businesses to help them prepare themselves for investment (so-called “investment readiness”). We usually appoint a non-executive director to the board of the investee company. This director supports and counsels the business, a service which adds value beyond the mere provision of cash.

CAF was born from the idea that those forms of creative activity that express themselves through business are best supported by shared risk-taking, not grant-giving. Venture capital is a long-term game, but our experience is that public venture capital is an effective and low-cost method of supporting innovation. We are looking forward with excitement to finding and supporting a new generation of creative entrepreneurs in the West Midlands.

With access to finance a key theme of next month’s c&binet forum, I will be following the debate closely and will be looking to share what we have learned with CAF whenever possible.

File sharing crackdown divides music industry

Valerie | 16 Sep 2009, 15:50

The reaction to government proposals laid out last month to clamp down on unlawful filesharing has highlighted some disagreement within the music industry, with musicians such as Billy Bragg and Annie Lennox pitted against record labels and the Musicians’ Union.

According to the Observer, a coalition of artists including Lennox, Bragg and Pink Floyd’s Nick Mason argue such laws would alienate their audience and risk criminalising music fans. The Featured Artists Coalition (FAC) also argues that the planned crackdown fails to recognise “evidence that repeat file- sharers of music are also repeat purchasers of music”.

This week, music managers behind artists such as Arctic Monkeys and Pink Floyd have publicly voiced their opposition to the FAC position. Paul Loasby, whose clients include David Gilmour and Jools Holland, argued that it will lead to “complete destruction” of new artists’ careers, whilst Colin Lester, manager for artists such as the Arctic Monkeys called the comments of the FAC “outrageous”, citing it was easy for established, high-earning artists to take this view and that the big stars are neglecting the low-earning session musicians and lesser-known bands. Lily Allen also took a stand against internet piracy in a blog post in which she criticized established acts such as Radiohead for opposing the government plans.

Writing on her MySpace page, she said:

“It probably is fine for them. They do sell-out arena tours and have the biggest Ferrari collections in the world. For new talent though, file sharing is a disaster as it’s making it harder and harder for new acts to emerge.”

Writing in the Times, Abba’s Björn Ulvaeus asks how songwriters and artists of the future will be able to support their creativity in the “era of free”:

“It must be possible to design a modern copyright environment that works with the internet without demanding surveillance that eats away at integrity. The UK Government is trying to address the problem and deserves support for having the courage to do so. We have to find a way of funding our future and not pretend that new revenue models are magically going to rescue us as the world of recorded music is destroyed by piracy.”

With the government deadline for comments in its illegal filesharing consultation approaching, industry pressure continues to mount, as illustrated by the latest news that indie trade body Pact and broadcasting union Bectu are backing a campaign to clamp down on illegal peer-to-peer file sharing on the internet.

Equity general secretary Christine Payne said:

“The fact that so many jobs are under threat is seriously alarming. There has never been a more critical time to take bold action against those who are threatening the livelihoods of everyone working in the entertainment sector.”

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