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Unsound LAB 2020

Unsound Lab 2020

Unsound LAB 2020

2020 has altered the music industry in ways nobody could have anticipated, with COVID-19 making live events either impossible, difficult or complex to produce. Meanwhile, BLM protests have brought to the fore the need for line-ups, rosters and teams in general to be more diverse and representative. How can we survive in the music industry today, and what are the possible futures? Is it still worth striving to build a career in this area, especially in underground club and electronic music? 

Following from last year’s first Unsound Lab program – a series of closed workshops and discussions for young music industry professionals – Unsound brings an updated program forward for 2020. As the online form and participation requires a different kind of focus, program elements have been spread out across two September weekends. 

Participants will have a chance to exchange and engage with selected mentors and panelists within a closed online group which aims to replace the impossibility of meeting in a physical space during Unsound Festival, as was the case last year. 

Classes will be led by people working in booking, management, music publishing, journalism, entertainment law and for artist support institutions. We’ve had the pleasure to work with all of these people, and feel their practical knowledge will be helpful to anyone aspiring to build a career in the music industry. 

Participants can apply HERE until August 21st, with admission decisions made by August 30th. The fee is 300 PLN, but you can apply to have this partially or fully waived if suffering financial hardship.


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 19th (time zone UTC+2)

12.00 – 13.00 / Intro to the Unsound Lab, Class of 2020 

The official program opening by Małgorzata Płysa – executive director of Unsound Festival and co-director of Unsound Productions, a creative agency focused on developing events and special projects, managing and representing artists worldwide. Participants will introduce themselves, describing their experiences and expectations from the Lab workshops. 


13.45 – 16.00 / Agents and Managers: Old roles and New Challenges Considered

Agents and managers – whose work often overlaps – compare and contrast their jobs, both before the pandemic and in its aftermath. Strategy, promotion, narrative and logistics will all require new responses and reshaping. What are the prospects? How do artists and industry members – whose income now largely depends on events – survive in a world where events may become more local and travel more difficult? What new challenges are on the horizon?

Carin Abdula – Outer Agency (UK)

Laetitia Deering – Annex (UK)

Cornelius Harris – Alter Ego (USA)

Brandon Stosuy – Zone6 Mgmt (USA)

Matt Werth – RVNG (USA)

Moderator: Lisa Blanning

17.00 – 20.00 / Introduction to intersectional diversity in the music industry

In this workshop, Carin and Lyra will lay out an introductory framework for understanding and acting toward intersectional diversity in the music industry. They’ll begin by explaining why this work is important, untangling the history of structural oppression and laying out some foundational principles and terms. Secondly, they will share their personal experiences and context with representation work in their respective industries. Finally, they will focus on some ‘best practices’ we can use to begin to confront this complex and multi-faceted work in our own communities and projects. Workshop attendees will not require any previous knowledge or experience in order to participate. The workshop will be conducted in an informal way, with plenty of room for questions and discussion as we learn together.

Carin Abdula – Outer Agency (UK)

Lyra Pramuk – Ableton Loop

Moderator: Niks Delanancy – Black Bandcamp

SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 20th (time zone UTC+2)

12.00 – 14.00 Record Labels in 2020: What is their role and how can they help artists? 


What is the role of record labels in 2020 – a question even before the pandemic? Do we still need them to guide us through the offerings of the internet? What percentage of artists’ income now comes from record sales? Is a record deal with a major label a guarantee of success? How does one go about starting a label? What are the pros and cons of self-releasing? How does one decide when to release, in relation to a pandemic that rightly consumes everyone’s attention? Especially if a release is meant to tie into a string of live shows? How can labels ensure that they are more diverse in terms of the artists that they release? Representatives of selected labels – the majority also artists – discuss.

Courtesy – Kulør (DK)

Mr. Mitch – Gobstopper Records (UK)

Rrrkrta – Brutaż (PL)

Emilio Fagone – YEAR0001 (SWE)

Moderated by: Lisa Blanning

15.00 – 17.00 Curators and programmers: What do they seek when creating their events?


What are curators looking for when building their unique programs? How can they plan for events and calculate risk in a world where things may change at the last moment as a result of a COVID-19 flare up? Can online events replace the magic of an experience in a physical place? What responsibilities do curators have in addressing issues of inequality and lack of diversity in lineups? How do they work to expand the visibility of the artists through participation in European platforms and international networks? In this discussion, the directors and curators of festivals will share insight into their artistic decision process, as well as giving practical tips for finessing budgets.

Lisa Meyer – Supersonic, Birmingham

Stephanie Phillips - Decolonise Festival, London

Jan Rohlf – CTM, Berlin 

Mat Schulz – Unsound, Kraków 

Moderated by Lisa Blanning


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 26th (time zone UTC+2)


12.00 – 13.15 / Publishing, synchronisations and commissions: How to diversify artists’ income sources (presentation)

Event curation and programming, large-scale event management, label consultant, artist management, booking agent, project management, brand partnerships, business affairs, creative consultancy, music publishing... in her 18 years of working in the music industry there are not many spheres in the industry that Rachel Graham has not experienced. In her presentation 'Get organised = Get paid', Rachel will introduce to the basics of Music Publishing for artists as composers, performers, and rights holders. Including an outline of income streams possible via publishing channels for royalties and synchronization.

14.00 – 15.15 / Intellectual property rights and international agreements for artists and their agents (presentation)

Victoria Wood, a lawyer representing the British law firm Statham Gill Davis, will give a presentation on how to protect the interests of artists performing in the international arena from a legal perspective. This will include advice on important factors when signing international agreements, as well as how to protect the intellectual property of artists you represent.

16.00 – 17.30 / Q&A moderated by Lisa Blanning 

Both presentations will be summarized by a longer discussion moderated by Lisa Blanning with questions from the participants and case studies. 


SUNDAY, SEPTEMBER 27th (time zone UTC+2)

12.00 – 13.30 / Polish Artists and Agencies to the Fore: Cultivating the Local

If it was difficult in the past to promote local talent, what are the potentials and challenges of representing Polish artists in the current climate? How has the pandemic shifted the problems? What can the future look like? This discussion with representatives of selected Polish agencies representing underground and electronic artists will also be relevant and have implications for anyone interested in nurturing a local scene.

Tomek Hoax – Coastline Bookings

Ania Marzec – CEO Agency

Mateusz Mondalski – Primitive Agency

Paulina Żaczek – Granko Agency 

Moderated by Lisa Blanning

15.00 – 16.30 / Press and communication: Ground zero for artists’ work to reach a wider audience

In 2020, how effective are public relations officers and agencies? What can they still accomplish at a time when music media is disappearing, along with reviews? Are they still relevant when social media dominates discourse, promotion and sales? How has the pandemic changed things, and what might the future look like? Have the BLM protests had an impact on how the media covers marginalised people? Experts with decades of experience between them compare perspectives

Gamall Awad – Backspin Promotions, NYC

Chal Ravens – freelance journalist

Georgia Taglietti – Sonar, Barcelona

Moderated by Lisa Blanning


18.30 - 20.30 / It’s on the tip of my tongue. Journalism workshop with Will Lynch  

Need to write a good bio, press release or article about an artist? During this two-hour workshop, Resident Advisor journalist Will Lynch will guide the participants through the basics of a music journalist's toolkit.

MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 28th (time zone UTC+2)

13.00-15.00 / Institutional support: Where to find it

There are different channels for finding resources for funding in Europe. Where does one start to look for financial and institutional support for artistic projects and one’s career? What’s the best way to pitch for a grant? How has the COVID-19 pandemic changed things? These presentations by representatives of our partner institutions will shed some valuable light on the topic.

Maja Łapuszyńska – KBF

Tamara Kamińska, Marek Hojda – Music Export Poland

Einar Eidsvåg – Music Norway

Michał Hajduk – Instytut Adama Mickiewicza/


This project is co-presented with We Are Europe platform

Co-funded by the Polish Ministry of Culture and National Heritage