Giving musicians the tools to propel their careers

The Sound Check conference in TA this weekend aims to empower local independent artists.

January 18, 2017 22:12
Asaf Ben-David, artistic director of the Sound Check music conference.

Asaf Ben-David, artistic director of the Sound Check music conference.. (photo credit: MINHA NUFFA)

Asaf Ben-David knows a thing or two about independent Israeli music. The 34-year-old has been working in the music industry for 10 years and is the producer of inDnegev, the biggest independent music festival in Israel. From today through Saturday, Ben-David and a dedicated team from his non-profit, Spirala, are hosting the Sound Check music conference in Tel Aviv’s Einav Cultural Center. Ben-David sat down with The Jerusalem Post to discuss the Israeli music scene, the history of record labels and producing a one-of-a-kind independent music conference.

Can you talk about your background?

For the past 10 years, I’ve been involved in the alternative and independent music scenes in Israel. I’m one of the producers of inDnegev, which is the biggest independent music festival in Israel. I also produce other festivals and work with artists to help them produce events. I’m the manager of the band Tiny Fingers. I also do independent documentaries.

I studied sound and film at Sapir college, so I have a background in both.

So you’ve got a lot going on?

Yeah, I’m involved in many things. Now with the Sound Check music conference, I’m even busier, with all good things. I started to plan Sound Check with some other guys from inDnegev. We’re in touch with many artists from inDnegev and they would talk to me about their plans and problems.

After awhile, we started seeing that there are a lot of connections between the problems that artists have with how to promote themselves and their music. We started to talk about building a new platform to help these artists because 10 years ago the alternative music scene in Israel was really small and there was not a lot of venues or festivals. Now it’s grown and there are a lot more opportunities.

A lot of Israeli artists go abroad to tour. But still, many artist don’t have a good point of view on how things really work and how to find the right manager and promote themselves. A lot of them are asking if they even need a manager or a record label, or can they do it all by themselves. So we started to talk about [it] and we opened a non-profit called Spirala: The Society for Promoting Independent Israeli Music.

So Sound Check is a project of Spirala?

Yes, this is the main thing that Spirala is doing now. We plan on doing another event around copyright issues and other topics.

But this is the main event where industry people and musicians come together. We also want to bring young people who work in the music industry, like myself, together.

I’ve been in other conferences where people bring important and big delegates, but they’re not really connected to the day-today activity of the artists. It’s not really relevant to what Israeli artists are going through today. This was the idea of what we wanted to do with the Sound Check conference. My role is to organize it with the team. I’m the artistic director, you could say. I strongly believe in the power of community and working together. It’s much more effective than working alone. I remember when I first started in this industry as an artist manager and I had no idea what I was doing. I had to learn from my mistakes for a few years. That’s a good way to learn, but getting advice from other people’s experience is even better.

How is the conference structured?

There will be the main conference with lectures and talks, then each day, we will have parties and shows. Then on Friday, we’ll have a party with the biggest alternative radio station in Israel. On Saturday, we’ll have a music fair with record labels and activities. We’ll also have shows and DJs.

How many people do you expect?

It’s not such a big venue. Every night there will be about 300 people. We will also broadcast the events on our website afterwards.

Basically, this was also part of our agenda.

We don’t want to do things faster than we can and burn out. The best way to do it is start with a relatively small-capacity venue and then continue for many years down the road and get bigger and better. This is also what we did with inDnegev. In this way, we can control the vibe. That’s what’s most important for us. This is something that we really believe in, it’s not just to make some money.

Can you give me the Sound Check highlights?

I’m more focused on the conference side. That’s the highlight for me. It’s going to be really cool. We’re going to have a lecture with Eyal Basson, who is a social media expert on a worldwide level. He’s going to talk about how to promote yourself on the Web. He’ll be giving artists tools for how to do it properly. We’ll also have Tamir Muskat from Balkan Beat Box, one of the biggest producers in Israel, talking about his work in connection with other artists. He’ll speak about himself, but in a way that people listening can take something from it and let it inform their work.

We’ll have a panel about PR; how to do it by yourself. They’ll be a panel about Israeli labels. 15 years ago, many Israeli labels collapsed and there were not many active labels anymore. In the past few years, there are many new labels. So we’ll talk about that and what the role of a label is, how needed it is, and what are the different models. Finally, we’ll be talking about Israel as a culture of music. What are the differences between Tel Aviv and Beersheba, for instance. There will also be lectures on how to make money and copyright issues. A lot of artists don’t know how to take care of their copyrights. There are many things to talk about. Even if we did a six-day conference, it wouldn’t be enough.

For more information and tickets on Sound Check:

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