ON Friday and Saturday of next week music industry figures from across Scotland and beyond will head to Edinburgh to attend award-winning music business convention Wide Days.

Supported by the National Lottery through Creative Scotland, Wide Days on April 20 and 21 was named as the Best Networking Event at 2014’s Music Convention Awards, an accolade borne out by the £400,000 of business it says was generated for delegates in the five months which followed last year’s event.

As well as a packed itineray of talks, all of which are open to the public, Friday’s schedule at Wide Days 2018 ends with a selection of free showcase gigs around the city from some of the country’s most exciting new bands.

Acts who have previously showcased at Wide Days include Be Charlotte, Catholic Action, Fatherson, Rachel Sermanni, Elle Exxe, 2015’s Scottish Album Of The Year Award winner Kathryn Joseph and the Mercury-nominated C Duncan.

Other past performers PAWS, grunge-pop duo Honeyblood and angel-voiced singer-songwriter Siobhan Wilson all went on to sign record deals as a result of their Wide Days showcases.

Showcase acts for Wide Days 2018, the eighth year of the convention, are rising grunge-influenced bands Crystal and Lucia (fronted by former busker Lucia Fontaine), “the much younger, more Glaswegian LCD Soundsystem” Edwin Organ, Graham Costello’s improv project Strata, garage-rockers Rascalton, accomplished young singer-songwriter Zoe Graham and Wuh Oh, stage name of Bathgate electro-pop experimenter Pete Ferguson.

Priority access to all gigs is guaranteed with a Wide Days delegate pass, and members of the public can apply for free tickets to attend the shows.

Held at the city’s Teviot Row House, Friday’s talk schedule includes discussions on staying healthy on tour, equal representation on festival bills and a tongue-in-cheek session titled What I Hate About You! where promoters and booking agents have a chance to vent their gripes about each other.

In addition there’s a panel discussion called Streaming To Success where new media experts will look at how bands and labels can get on to playlists and best use streaming services to their advantage in promoting releases and developing artists.

Other practical sessions for new acts will look at building a fanbase through gigging and what role labels and publishers play in an artists’ career.

Olaf Furniss, who founded Wide Days in 2010, says of the programme: “Most topics will be as relevant to industry veterans as they are those starting out in the business, which reflects the constant evolution of our industry. This year sees us host more panels, presentations and talks than ever before and it is great to be able to add so many topics to the sessions we announced last month, which includes panels on metal, improving disabled access at music events and a focus on new music label models.”

IN a specially-commissioned report for Wide Days, Chris Cooke, managing director of music community intelligence and training organisation CMU Insights, will compare the different approaches being used to tackle secondary ticketing in Canada, France, the UK, Italy, the US and Australia.

Cooke, whose discussion is called Tackling The Ticket Touts: The Story So Far, says: “CMU was set up by three Edinburgh University graduates 20 years ago so it’s great to return to the Scottish capital to share our knowledge and insights with the Wide Days audience.

‘‘And even better that we will be sharing some brand new insights on the secondary ticketing market, as well as CMU:DIY sessions for new artists on streaming, fanbase building and label deals”.

Saturday is a more relaxed day at the conference, with an opportunity to explore some of Edinburgh’s music-related hotspots. Attendees should check out some of the city’s independent record shops, such as Assai Records on Grindlay Street, trad and folk hub Coda Music on The Mound and Cockburn Street dance music institution Underground Solu’shn.

After all, April 21 is Record Store Day, the event created over a decade ago to celebrate record shops with special events and new releases.

Though credited as helping to save physical shops by sparking the vinyl resurgence, Record Store Day has become something of a divisive issue over the years with some expressing misgivings about how reissues of mainstream acts on major labels crowd-out acts on smaller labels.

In a recent newsletter Michael Kasparis, head of Glasgow’s excellent Night School Records, described the day as a “necessary evil”.

And long-standing indie record shop owner Rupert Morrison wondered in a newspaper article whether “the whole thing needs a shot in the arm or to the back of the head”.

Such debates will inform Saturday’s discussion, when Wide Days founder Olaf Furniss interviews Kim Bayley about her 15 years as chief executive of trade body the Entertainment Retailers Association.

Alan Morrison, head of music at Creative Scotland, says of Wide Days: “It’s great to see a conference based in Scotland leading the way when it comes to the issues that affect the music industry at a global level. Wide Days’ panel sessions get to the heart of what matters in music right now, as well as defining what will shape it in the future.”

April 20 and 21, various venues, Edinburgh. See www.widedays.com for delegate passes and showcase tickets. www.facebook.com/widedays @widedays