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Italy’s IPM Roma Music Conference- Is It a Spider or a Starfish? (interview)

Reported by Joshua [Trackitdown] on July 17, 2012

With the likes of Detroit’s Italian spin-off Movement Torino Festival and acclaimed italian superclub Cocorico thriving off the back of booking policies that reflect Berlin or Ibiza as much as traditional Italian house, it’s fair to say Italy’s newest conference IPM is happening at exactly the right time.

Soft launching two years ago with a preview edition followed by a larger event last year, this year’s IPM (standing for International Promoters Meeting) boasts a two day programme of A list panels, workshops plus night-time -and day time- pool parties in clubs throughout Rome. While the night-time line-up is dominated by US house legends (Timmy Regisford, Kenny Carpenter, Barbara Tucker) day time sees Miami Winter Music Conference chief Bill Kelly locking horns with Richard Zijlma, the general manager of Amsterdam Dance Event.

“We'd like IPM to be perceived and lived somewhere between competition and collaboration; something like ‘co-opetition’,” says IPM chief Andrea Masci.

“Last year for example we had Richard Zijlma and Bill Kelly on stage, and they said ‘errmm, good actually we've never been on a stage together’.

“So this year we’ve brought them back to be on our Network of Networks panel alongside people from Sonar and IMS,” he smiles.

“And maybe they’re coming because IPM is a little off-Broadway compared to other professional gatherings? Because we’re primarily a promoters’ meeting and we want them to feel like promoters?”

So why did they decide to launch IPM now exactly? And how does he plan to set IPM apart from other music conferences?

“Of course IPM is a conference and a festival and of course it is born and intended to be placed in the global calendar alongside other very successful gatherings around the world,” he concedes.

‘Miami Winter Music Conference is the father/mother for all of us, and somehow established this template involving a conference/gathering of professionals, music showcases and networking between pros, which has grown and grown.

“IPM is born on the 'tail' of WMC, of ADE, Sònar and IMS to some extent,” he admits.

“So, quoting Bernard of Chartres 'We are like dwarfs on the shoulders of giants', there are already very successful gatherings around the world and in the global music agenda, including new ones if we think of EDM Conference in Vegas, so why not another one?

We like to think that this is because our different perspective, that is promoter-centric. 

Behind every successful music event there is an exceptional promoter; good promoters are on the cutting edge of the scene, they are basically innovators: to be innovative and successful though you have to be always alert, be able to detect the signals and trends of the future, to take risks and to invent the future, eventually: we dedicate the meeting to them, whoever they are and we hope to meet many of them.”

Admitting that this year’s event is the first ‘proper’ conference, Andrea reveals they first thought of the event ten years previously.

“IPM was born in Rome 2002 from the ideas of a bunch of promoters/ professionals / friends of the Italian music industry,” he recalls. “We were discussing how promoters are key-element around which the entire industry evolves though are often behind the scenes and we thought ‘why not give them a stage to speak out?”

“Then IPM stayed as a cncept somewhere in us, everyone kept doing their own thing: opening disco-restaurants, clubs, travelling the world until the right time-to-market came in 2010 where the same bunch of people got the strength to return to that idea and even attract more energy and people on board. 

It is amazing the growth we've had in terms of experience and value through the hard work and passion of a new partner in the last 12 months: it shows that despite the challenge of this big venture (a conference in English, in Rome) we are heading in the right direction: we hope more interesting people will be attracted by the beauty and the risk of working and shaping a new playground for music and entertainment. 

We'd like IPM to be intended as an open platform for meaningful conversations and for collaboration on music and with music. And we will be very happy if we will be able once a year  to gather together in this conversation the entire Italian music  & antertainment market and eventually facilitate the meeting with the international market: that would build true new bridges and connections worldwide and we would be proud of it. 

And what exactly is IPM for?

“Is IPM a Spider or a Starfish? You tell me, | don’t know,” he laughs (referencing Ori Brafman’s 2006 Tipping Point style book- The Unstoppable Power of Leaderless Organizations).

“It’s not that we want to teach anything to anyone with IPM: we'd like IPM to be the right place to raise the right questions more than the one to give the exact answers.

“We'd like IPM to represent a beautiful and 'safe' space where people can speak openly and discuss and collaborate to develop and change the playground we're playing in; if not us then who else? 

“We want the event to be a space representing not just the 'mainstream' but where ALL voices can be heard and contribute and eventually innovate; a place and space representing a community able to co-design and change the world, at least our small, insignificant music world...

This is already happening a little bit this year: in fact, in the conference we have open conversations on stage interacting with the public, no keynote speeches unless they're really adding value, but  still... we do have a stage and speakers vs a public: we are dreaming for the future to be strong enough to get the stage out of the way and to set up a common space where everyone is a speaker and everyone a listener: everyone a player, a key-player. Like-minded people, big players and outsiders: adding diversity and perspectives to our world and eventually see innovation unfolding through working and collaborating together. That’s the goal anyway.”

“Let me leave you with a couple of my favourite inspirational quotes,” he adds.

"Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world," wrote anthropologist Margaret Meade. "Indeed, it's the only thing that ever has."  

Or just to mention Carlo Antonelli (at the time director at Rolling Stone Italy, today director at WIRED) during our IPM Preview 2010 Edition, just going back to the latin roots of the word Pro-moter, made up by Movere (to Go) Pro (toward, forward): he said 'ultimately a Promoter is someone that is dreaming, inventing and realizing something that never existed before'

Isn't it what we, at our best, are all trying to do? 

IPM Rome 2011 video report:

IPM Rome 2012 Teaser: 

Jonty Skrufff: