InMusic 2019

After 2 years, I decided to attend once more the conference that was the first to publish my research findings: Innovation in Music.

Being a conference at the intersection of Music, Technology, Production and Business, this conference has always been somewhat fascinating to me. While I never felt I truly belonged due to the strong commercial blueprint, I always enjoyed the papers presented and had some valuable feedback from the attendees.

This year’s InMusic was no exception. The University of West London was a great location that hosted the conference and managed to bring together a lot of international researchers.

Day 1: waiting for Joe Wright’s presentation to begin.

The submitted work this time was revolving around the comparative user testing carried out as part of my PhD research. Interestingly enough, my first published paper at InMusic was around the first user testing I carried out as part of my research. So this paper followed really well previous findings and the continuity helped me create a fluid presentation.

While I still haven’t received feedback on the paper submitted, I must say I am pretty satisfied about my presentation and I am glad I attended both days. It enabled me to see and listed to a bunch of amazing researchers I had never heard from before, meet Andy Farnell (sound design legend), and discuss my research with a handful of interested fellow academics.

However, not everything went smoothly. This was my first conference that presented a multi-track schedule and I must say: I was not impressed. While I must admit that the organisers were very well organised to cope with the busy schedule, providing presenters with 15 minute presentations, 5 minutes for questions and an additional 5 minutes to let the audiences move between venues, the result was not great. The conference suffered from a lack of attendance. While there were quite a few people overall, always splitting the audience in 2 (or even 3) different rooms resulted in presenters talking to 8 – 12 people most of the time. I presented to 10 people, 2 of which were my colleagues.

Don’t get me wrong: I don’t mind how many people listen to my research. However I think that conferences are valuable because they provide a fertile environment for discussion. While this multitrack method let’s people move around seeking the papers that they’re most interested in, this leaves the presenters with a handful of people in the audience that are all acquainted with (or at least interested in) the topic. This results in just a few questions from the audience (mostly very pertinent, nothing out of the blue and I mean it in a negative sense), and 2 or 3 discussions during the coffee break.

By forcing people into a single track conference, you are forcing cross pollination of ideas and research areas. This, in my opinion, is one of the best features of conferences. The possibility that an academic from a completely different field could ask a really interesting question revolving around your area of expertise is amazing and worth the conference.

Even though the multi-track setting ruined the conference a bit, overall it was a very positive experience and I think you’ll see me there again in 2021!

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Portraits by Camilla Bach
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