Fast-Forwarding Futures - Chris Carey Interview

21 January 2016

Music insight and data guru Chris Carey reflects on his career highlights, favourite bands and an unforgettable Frank Sinatra experience ahead of the launch of his inaugural music conference FastForward in Amsterdam next month.

Chris! We’re just two weeks away from the inaugural FastForward music conference in Amsterdam. What can we expect to see across the two days?

We’ve managed to put together a great variety of speakers for our first conference – 36 in total! The intention is to offer as much insight into as many areas of music as possible, including recorded music, live music and making money, as well as presenting an artist perspective on in the industry too.

A big part of our focus this year is on exploring and evaluating new technology and innovation; we’re delighted to welcome PledgeMusic founder Benji Rogers, who’ll leading the discussions on block chain, and the opportunities and challenges that it faces.

And why Amsterdam for your first conference?

Having already run several successful events in London, our goal was to house our first conference in an international city, in order to attract a wider European audience. We’ve targeted music professionals under 35, who sit in a junior or mid-level management role, so being close to home was important. Amsterdam is considered a young and vibrant place to be, so it was a perfect fit for FastForward.

What is it that makes FastForward different from other music industry gatherings globally?

We’re big fans of the bigger conferences, and I’ve been lucky enough to speak at many of them, including MIDEM, Great Escape and SXSW. We’ll still attend these every year, as they’re all brilliant in their own way.

However, we recognised that there was a gap in the market for an affordable networking space for the next generation of young people coming into the industry, where they might have an opportunity to meet others at similar levels, but different verticals.

Glastonbury or Coachella?

Got to be Glasto!

Your company Media Insight Consulting was instrumental in some major projects last year; what project would your team most like to work on in the future?

There’s lots of talk about innovation in recorded music, and already many are seeing the product of this. However, with MIC we’re really keen to explore further the opportunities around using data more effectively in live music – selling more tickets, how to sell out faster and more cost-effectively. 

Additionally, in a world of big data where Spotify generates millions of rows of data a day, there’s a space to combine that with consumer survey information and social metrics to get a more complete view of the music consumer. We have already started working on this, but it’s an area where we’d like to do a lot more.

© Amanda Rose Photography 2016.

The line-up at this year’s conference is particularly impressive, many of whom are friends of yours. What is your number one networking tip for anyone trying to start a career in music?

It’s absolutely crucial to build relationships with people on a human level; many of the guys speaking at FastForward this year are mates, because we’ve built our friendships and business relationships simultaneously. Ultimately, this makes working together much more enjoyable.

In terms of starting out, it’s important to be bold, confident and pro-active. Always try and make the first move – people in music are generally very receptive to having a conversation. Make sure you honour any promises you make too – if you’ve said you will contact someone the next day, make sure you do send that email. It’s arguably the biggest step in cultivating that relationship.

What was the last record you paid for?

Ludovico Einaudi – In a Time Lapse

What are you hoping attendees will be able to take away from FastForward?

We’re hoping that the attendees and speakers will be able to share a breadth of knowledge about other sectors of the industry. It’s great to have Zoe Swindells from The O2 Arena, who’ll be able to offer some valuable insight on how to stand out to booking agents; Alex Kennedy (Founder, Givvit) and Catherine Lückhoff (Founder, Nichestreem) will be sharing their experiences of entrepreneurship which will ultimately help others understand the climate better.

The focus panels have been designed to help everyone in the room think more about the future of the music industry, in order to try and anticipate new trends and identify new approaches.

Which artist are you most excited about this year?

I’m a big fan of Bear’s Den, and I’m also looking forward to Seafret’s debut album, which is coming out next week!

If you could pick one career highlight to cap the rest, what would it be?

One of the standout memories from earlier in my career was my third or fourth week at EMI, when they flew me to LA. It was my first time visiting there, and I will never forget sitting in Capitol Records listening to the original Frank Sinatra vocal stems in the room where he recorded them. That was pretty special.

I think one of my biggest achievements though is my team at MIC. We are now 4 strong, and have an absolute blast working together on some really exciting projects. I’m looking forward to growing further as a team, and unlocking new opportunities for us as a company.


The inaugural FastForward music conference will take place on 4-5 February 2016 at the Muziekgebouw aan ‘t IJ, Amsterdam. Delegate passes are still available – for more information, visit:

© James Fleury

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About Chris Carey

Chris Carey is CEO of Media Insight Consulting, a market leader in using music data, big data analytics and consumer insight. He was previously Global Insight Director at Universal Music Group, and has also worked for EMI, where he led their ‘Big Data’ team, and PRS for Music, where he held the post of Senior Economist.

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