NEWS from Ireland's largest music showcase festival, new record deals and a swath of new albums on the way are all detailed in this week's edition of Northern Winds.

Two of Belfast's leading music institutions are teaming up this summer for a free event that has been described as the 'Music Industry's Christmas'. Renowned conference and electronic music festival AVA and music export organisation Output have teamed up for this year's OUTPUT Festival, which will take place on June 1 in the MAC in the Cathedral Quarter.

Long-time readers will be aware of my allegiance to OUTPUT as the only free music conference on the island, and with a wealth of professional talent and delegates in attendance, it's often the first foray into the working music industry that young adults get, either as a band looking to impress a label or as a punter looking to get a leg up in their career. A one-day event split down the middle between panels and discussions in the morning and performances from over 20 bands in the evening, it's an absolutely essential event for those who want to work in the music industry, or anyone who just wants to grab a free ticket to see the hottest talent on the island.

Mark Gordon, Founder of Output Belfast, said: “AVA, under Sarah McBriar’s leadership, has been instrumental since 2015 amplifying the extraordinary talent and skills in Northern Ireland’s thriving electronic music scene. And it’s brilliant for me personally that, having been a part of their conferences in Belfast, London, and as far away as India, we now get to bring their expertise, networks and skills to what has now become Ireland’s leading music conference. This promises to be by some considerable distance the most important music conferencing day Belfast or Ireland will ever have seen and I’m delighted with our partnership.”

Sarah McBriar, founder of AVA, said: “Mark Gordon and I have worked together since AVA began in 2015. We understand the great potential of the music industry across the island of Ireland and we believe that bringing our two conferences together will further boost what’s possible for the event, the conference content and its ability to inspire and elevate both artists and the industry. We plan to instigate greater education, greater support and greater attention to what is creatively possible.”

Panel sign-ups are online now and will fill up soon, so jump on it while you have a chance.

In record news, we received one of the more pleasant press releases of the quarter regarding indie-folk songwriter Conchúr White. In his debut EP, he wowed us with retro fantasia on tracks like 'Bikini Crops' and 'Channing Tatum'. We were clearly not the only ones. News came this week of his signing to the record label Bella Union, the legendary indie imprint founded by the Cocteau Twins and home to artists like Fleet Foxes, Father John Misty and The Flaming Lips over the years. White now joins those ranks thanks in part to his dreamy, vibrant take on the indie, folk and pop traditions of his forebears. The news came with new single 'Atonia' released this week – a theatrical and authentic slice of retro-pop inspired by the experience of sleep paralysis. What a tune.

And the spotlight falls on another one of our premier songwriters, the mighty Arborist. Once inhabiting the world of alternative country, the songwriter has wrapped up folk, alternative and psychedelic influences into a neat bundle on his new album, 'An Endless Sequence of Dead Zeros'. A mammoth record, recorded in Virginia and released to the world this week, it pulls no punches and cuts no corners.