The story of an associate: Riff Taff Music Networking

Lately I got a lot of great feedback and greetings, both for my own music and for my work with promoting other independent music. That gave me the idea to write a bit about some networking platforms that has really helped me connect with other people in the music scene and thereby giving me the chance to get out there.

I wanted to tell the story about the people behind these platforms and first out is Riff Taff Music Networking that was started by Ivan Roberts and he then recruited Mike Cúig from the band “1 in Five” to be his right hand. So here’s the story about Riff Taff Music Networking and the people behind.

What is Riff Taff Music Networking?

Ivan: Riff Taff Music Networking is a tool to help anyone involved in music to expand their number of contacts, which can therefore lead on to: collaborations, working relationships and long term friendships. It is double-edged in that the social media and live events sides offer completely different dynamics.

Our social media largely revolves around the Facebook group , where over 1900 members have joined the community in the eleven months that it has been running. This is a platform designed to self-advertise what you do, upcoming and/or requests for events and some of the most popular posts have been people asking for advice on music related matters.
We have also added the website which has lots of information about what we do, a shop with RTMN t-shirts at a bargain price and a very extensive gig calendar that people can add their upcoming shows on.

The live events bring people face to face, which generally works better in forging ongoing relationships between the particular parties. So many people have arrived at these events as strangers and have left as good friends.

How it all started

Ivan: I was basically a guy that used to go to a lot of gigs and decided that I wanted to become more actively involved – a midlife crisis I guess you would call it. I started out putting on shows at the beginning of 2015, did that for eighteen months. Over that period I organized about 50 shows featuring 200 or so different bands/solo performers. In mid 2016 I decided that I wanted to stay involved in music as I had made some fantastic friends and contacts, but not as a promoter. Networking seemed a natural progression and something that there was a demand for.

Therefor I started RTMN because I was constantly seeing music related people on Facebook, from various parts of the spectrum, asking for advice and thought that trying to put these people together would provide a useful service.
As the founder I guess the buck stops with me regarding decisions that have to be made. One thing is for certain though. Riff Taff would not be where it is now were it not for Mike Five coming on board as my right hand man. Mike takes care of most of the social media and marketing side of things. Areas where he excels far more than I do. We are very much a working partnership and one that nearly a year down the line is functioning well.

The story of Mike

Tell us a little about yourself, who are you, where are you based, what are your background in the music scene?

Mike: I’m Mike from Brighton. I’m the lead guitarist in the Hard Rock Blues band 1 in Five, a new music podcaster, and I’m part of the Riff Taff Music Networking team.

What were your reason to start/get involved in Riff Taff?

Mike: I’ve known Ivan for a while and when he moved away from promoting shows and set up Riff Taff Music Networking it felt like this was something that was not only missing, but also really needed in the world of music. How often do you see someone post in an online group looking for recommendations to print t-shirts / make a video / get a gig etc? All the time. Riff Taff is about building your persona network and removing some of the mystery that seems to envelop the local music scene. It brings people who are part of the grassroots music landscape together through both face to face networking nights, and online.

Knowing this I was keen to support in any way I can, initially I worked with Ivan on developing the website, creating the Facebook group etc. Now the whole project has grown, I’ve become more involved in Riff Taff’s Marketing strategy, and future planning.

What are your role in Riff Taff?

Mike: First and foremost I’m a musician and a networker. Formerly I suppose I’m the equivalent of a Marketing Director.

What makes you wanna continue do what you are doing?

Mike: Riff Taff has grown exponentially since I first started to get involved just under a year ago, there are nearly 2,000 people in the Facebook group, attendance at recent face to face events has hit over 100 people, and now we’re running a charity festival later in the year. I’m passionate about grassroots music, particularly original bands – I think if you don’t support your local scene now then my 5 year old is going to be listening to the same tired covers of Summer of 69 when he turns 18 that we’re listening to now.

But the music industry is harder than ever, venues are closing down all over the place, there have been various cultural and economic changes over the last 20 years that have had a negative impact on the industry as a whole, and the onus is on bands to do more themselves. Riff Taff helps bands navigate these complexities, it supports grassroots music, and helps people make the connections they need to reach their true potential. Why wouldn’t I want to keep being a part of that!?

The future

What are your plans for Riff Taff in the near future?

Ivan: The rate at which Riff Taff has grown has been so pleasing and I think quite surprising to both of us. Seeing what has happened in such a short space of time gives food for thought as to what the future may hold. Mike co-hosts a radio show (New Music Saturday). I am just finishing my training to do something similar playing only Riff Taff connected artists. We are dipping our toe back in the promoting water by putting on three gigs over three towns/cities the third weekend in September. It is called Sounds 4 Hounds and is to raise money and awareness for a charity close to my heart – The Greyhound Trust. If successful this could become an annual event.

Mike: The Riff Taff networking events are on a summer break for a couple of months while we plan, prepare, and promote the very first Sounds 4 Hounds Festival happening this September. For the first time we’ll be putting on 30 bands, in 3 venues, across 3 days in support of the Greyhound Trust charity. Not only is it a great opportunity to hear some of the amazing bands that have been involved with and supported Riff Taff Music Networking, it’s also raising money for a great cause. Plus we get to spread our wings and bring the Riff Taff name out to Worthing and Chatham for the first time as well as return to The Gunners in London where it all began.

And finally, could you offer me and my readers a little anecdote or just something that will put a smile on peoples faces?

Ivan: Mike in his marketing capacity decided that he wanted to have me holding a business card up in the air as the main picture on the social media pages. I was very opposed to it, to be honest. I am far from being model material and didn’t want Riff Taff the image that it was all about me. Have always been one to shy away from a camera, rather than throw myself in front of it. I have to admit now that it has worked, because there have been many occasions where people have approached me at gigs, etc as a result of it and other times when I have gone to introduce myself and people have said they knew who I was and motioned to hold a business card in the air.

Mike: It’s not an anecdote but whenever I’m down I just remember the time Brian Harvey (East 17) ate too many baked potatoes, felt ill, and managed to run himself over with his own car! That always makes me laugh! haha

Conclusion

So there you go, a little bit about the people behind the great platform Riff Taff Music Networking. I really recommend all of you that in some way is engaged in the independent music scene to join the Facebook-group and if you have the chance, come join some of the live events.

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