ILMC 33: ‘A Really Important Moment To Bring Everyone Back Together’

The ILMC team around their fearless leader Greg Parmley in the middle.
– The ILMC team around their fearless leader Greg Parmley in the middle.

When ILMC welcomed some 1,100 delegates at the Royal Garden Hotel in London last year, Coronavirus was already a topic of discussion. A small number of delegates cancelled their participation due to their governments’ recommendation not to travel. 
Most shows being cancelled at that point were the ones scheduled across Asia, although ticket sales had already started to decline in Italy, the first European market to get hit. Still, the mood was mostly optimistic. 
Move Concerts’ Phil Rodriguez warned his fellow live professionals at the time not to “commit suicide,” by jumping on the hysteria spread by the media. 
Greg Parmley.
– Greg Parmley.
Head of ILMC and CEO of the UK’s first live industry body LIVE.

The UK government’s position at the time had been not to cancel any shows, the country’s chief medical advisor said, there was “no clear rationale” for shutting down events. He did emphasize even then that changes to the government’s advice could occur at any moment, which has been a theme in the way most governments of the world have been handling the crisis since. 

At one point during last year’s conference, ILMC head Greg Parmley asked panelists, if they feared for the upcoming festival season at all. The answer CAA’s Emma Banks gave pretty much chimed with what most thought at the time: “It will pass. We will all be fine. At the moment, we just need to look out for each other.”
Fast forward a year, and it feels like the 32. ILMC edition took place in a different world. “It was the last big gathering of the music industry pre COVID. This year’s ILMC, one year on, at a point when reopening maps are starting to be published around the world, feels like a really important moment to bring everyone back together,” Parmley told Pollstar.
Naturally, the conference will be focused on learnings from the last 12 months, as well as ways of getting the sector back up and running as quickly as possible. However, there’s much more to it than that. ILMC 33 will feature more speakers than usual, 289 according to Parmley’s last count. Not being tied to a physical space allowed him and his team to program much more broadly. It also allowed them to open up the conference to anybody buying a ticket, not just invited members.
Lucy Dickins, the head of WME's music division, also spoke at last year's ILMC.
– Lucy Dickins, the head of WME’s music division, also spoke at last year’s ILMC.
She was talking about the success of Mumford & Sons alongside band member Ben Lovett, who’ll also be returning to the virtual ILMC.

What is more, as Parmley explained, “it’s much easier to ask someone to give up an hour of their time than to fly to London for two days. So, the caliber of speakers that we’ve got this year is phenomenal, some of the brightest minds across the business internationally.”

Confirmed speakers include Lucy Dickins (head of WME’s UK music division and co-head of WME’s international music division), Klaus-Peter Schulenberg (CEO CTS Eventim), Emma Banks (co-head of CAA in London), Irving Azoff and Tim Leiweke (co-founders of Oak View Group, Pollstar’s parent company), Mumford & Sons’ Ben Lovett, and many more. Parmely said, he was “quite proud of what we put together. How do we follow that up when we go back to a physical event? I don’t know. But it’s a challenge that we’ll have to get over in 2022.”
The 33. ILMC will feature 60-plus meetings, workshops and keynotes across three days, March 3-5, some 50 showcases from new artists, presented by the main booking agencies and export offices. ILMC’s new event brand PULSE will facilitate a day of discussions around the intersection of technology and live music, while the Experience Economy Meeting (TEEM) focuses on non-music content.
Parmley’s team has experience in creating virtual events since hosting the sixth edition of the International Festival Forum (IFF) in September online. “One of the most popular bits was the random speed meetings,” Parmley recalled, revealing that “we’ve got something very, very similar for ILMC, which I think people are going to really enjoy.” 
The buzz that can usually be felt everywhere at ILMC will be sorely missed at the virtual edition.
– The buzz that can usually be felt everywhere at ILMC will be sorely missed at the virtual edition.
Going online has advantages though.

Delegates will be able to set up their own private meeting lounges, where they can host group or one-on-one chats. It may turn out to be easier to meet people online that it is in a packed hotel lobby, where it can be quite challenging to stay on top of things. Admittedly, though, the sometimes-overwhelming buzz is also part of ILMC’s charm. 

Despite the advantages, Parmley very much hopes “that this is our one and only virtual ILMC. It’s a bittersweet thing.” He’s generally “positive about the next few months. There’s a lot of work to do, I think we’re going to have to scratch and claw our way back to normality. There need to be a lot of small victories to get to where we need to be as quickly as possible. 
“The resilience of the individuals within the sector is pretty astonishing, given what everyone’s been through. It’s been an incredibly difficult 12 months for everybody, in terms of mental health and coping with in this situation and the anxiety around where we’re at. But there’s a line on the horizon by now. I think the appetite for live music is just going to be just ridiculous. Not having something for a year or 18 months is a pretty good way of making you appreciate it.”
As usual, ILMC will be kicked off a day ahead of the first conference day by its two sister events, the ILMC Production Meeting (IPM) as well as the Green Events & Innovations Conference (GEI), both taking place March 2.