It's that time of year again when the music business descends on Manchester warts & all for In The City, four days of bands, networking, seminars and Olympic beer consumption! Obviously there is one thing missing this year, as the driving force behind ITC the recent death of Tony Wilson has left a massive hole but from the introduction to the delegate directory onwards everyone seems determined to carry on his vision that has seen ITC grow into an event that only SXSW in Texas can rival.

This years keynote events saw the co-founder of Sub Pop (Jonathan Poneman), the founder & director of Mute records (Daniel Miller) and Jazzie B (Soul II Soul) all host sessions (amongst others) but the jewel in the crown this year was legendary promoter Harvey Goldsmith. Where else would you get the chance to listen to the man that hosted Live Aid, Live 8, the Led Zeppelin reunion and countless other gigs and festivals since the 60s? There is also a raft of industry panel discussions on all topics from the state of music publishing to the resurgence in DIY artists and there's even a chance for a group of student fans to host a panel to give direct feedback to the industry moguls.

Numbers seemed a little down on last year at Bridgewater Hall, where unsigned bands can vie for the honour of having their demo reviewed by a panel of critics or engage in a version of speed dating with various A&R people, agents, producers and managers. There also didn't seem to be as many bands chancing their arm by thrusting a demo into the hands of every delegate in sight outside the Midland (a recommended tactic by the way, demos are seldom refused although where they end up is another matter!).

Much is made of the bands that play ITC and rightly so, with around 250 bands appearing at a multitude of venues in and around the city centre there's plenty to check out. What ITC isn't though is the once in a life time chance to get your material heard by the guy who's going to give you your big break. Now I don't doubt that this has happened occasionally but in all reality the delegates seldom stray from the safety of the venues in the immediate vicinity of the Midland. Now if you're lucky enough to get put on in Chicago Rock Cafe then you might be in with a shout but the most prolific venues are places like Dry Bar over on Oldham Street and after spending the best part of two days in there (checking out a host of bands on the permanently rolling three stage arrangement) I can confirm sightings of only a handful of other delegates. Check out the list of bands that has gone on from ITC showcases to make it big, Get Cape, Wear Cape, Fly, The Darkness and a few others not a particularly great return considering the hundreds that have performed so don't pin your hopes on ITC being the gig that will break your band. On the other hand crowd numbers of general punters seemed up on last year so it's still good exposure and at the end of the day it's the fans that will be your bread & butter so it's far from a wasted effort.

A plus point this year was the integration of other genres into what has traditionally been a very indie centred event. Last year urban and rock bands were seemingly tucked away on their own, this year however they cropped up all over the place with bands like Red Star Rebels, Dear Superstar & the impressive The Neighbourhood all pulling good crowds at a variety of venues. It was especially pleasing to see so many people out & about on the Monday night, less than Saturday & Sunday sure but still very healthy. Bands to watch out for from this years event include Manchester's own Suitcase, This is My Lawnmower, Sixnationstate and the aforementioned The Neighbourhood, who are already getting good rotation on Channel 4 Music.

ITC is changing and there seems to be a recognition from the industry that they need to adapt to a new way of working if they are to survive in the long term, let's just hope that this is not at the expense of fans. The event remains a great showcase for up and coming bands and for the average punter you're not likely to find exposure to this many new bands anywhere else on the planet, certainly not for the price anyway with door charges ranging from free to around the 6 mark for a whole days entertainment!