The Hot Seat: Sat Bisla, MUSEXPO Conference Organiser

Published in The Music Network


Do you consider yourself a publisher or a conference organiser?

Our core business is about artist discovery, development, marketing and consulting. The [Musexpo] conference is an afterthought. I started the A&R Worldwide newsletter about 15 years ago, to share information with all the relationships I’d built globally since I’d started at 16 in the music business. We now have over 12,000 subscribers.

So what’s the goal of Musexpo?

We always want to give people an experience that is tangible, whether it’s creative, a new business relationship, or a new personal relationship. The whole concept behind it is to bring together true, passionate fans. It’s about the music business. But if you put music first and you have good music, the business will come.

For the performers, it’s about providing the best platform possible to look, sound and be presented the best way possible. We’re not a publicly-traded company, we’re not looking at making millions of dollars off the back of the music industry. We’re partners with the music industry. And our goal is to help contribute to the betterment of the music industry eco-system, where everyone wins.

How many numbers are you looking to pull this year?

It’ll never be more than 700. When it grows over that size it becomes unmanageable. We always want to provide an intimate, focused and manageable experience.

So the plan isn’t to become the MIDEM of America?

No, we want to be the Musexpo of America. MIDEM is part of a publicly-owned company. It’s a corporation that is obviously trying to make as much money as possible. All power to them. They’re one of our partners and I wouldn’t criticise them; I’ve certainly got a lot of benefits out of it myself. We’re a “mum and pop” operation.

Many conferences outside the US get support from taxpayer money. We’re self-supported. My parents always told me, “Don’t take money that you haven’t earned. That way you’re never in debt to anybody.” That philosophy still stands. We don’t take taxpayer money. This is all self-funded, and it’s all built on passion.

The rumour buzzing around is that Perth’s One Movement for Music won’t survive for a third year. Is that true?

I don’t foresee the plug being pulled. I think it will have to be reconfigured, but it will be done in a way that everybody wins. EventsCorp and One Movement are currently discussing possible changes to the format of the event.  It’s an incredible event. It’s done so much good for Australian music.

Your Musexpo Europe event in London won’t happen this year?

Part of the reason is that we’re also doing a (April 29-30) Worldwide Radio Summit in L.A, which is another two-day event. That’s essentially taking Musexpo into a six-day event. I just couldn’t fathom myself and my staff doing an event like (Musexpo Europe) just six weeks later.

While I was really proud of the first years of Musexpo Europe, last year we competed with the World Cup and due to the six-week window it was too demanding on my staff.

We weren’t able to give 110%. If you do an event, you’ve got to make sure you give 110%. We’ll take a year off, and return in winter 2012. You continually show support for Australian and New Zealand acts through your newsletter.

Is there a real hunger for acts from Down Under, or are we just another English- language repertoire source?

I don’t distinguish between borders. I consider myself a citizen of the earth. And for me, music has no borders. If it’s a great song or artist, it will resonate.

Whether it’s from India, China, Australia or NZ. Australia and New Zealand seem to be generating a lot of interesting sounds, which are connecting with people all over the world. It’s very creative, it’s very passionate, it’s emotional and it’s timely. But it goes in cycles. Obviously Asia is now rising again.

Lately, I’ve been touched by Sydney’s All Mankind, which reminds me of the strength of [U2’s] Joshua Tree and the commercial accessibility of [Coldplay’s] Parachutes. In six weeks they’ve generated such an impact globally, I felt like I had to get personally involved. Their time is coming.

The seventh annual Musexpo takes place May 1-4 in Hollywood.

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