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Magyar choice: What’s HOT in Hungary

Stepping up its remit to help artists take their music to international audiences, HOTS has partnered with IQ to showcase the best of Hungary's flourishing live scene

By IQ on 01 Dec 2020

HOTS-backed singer-songwriter Dávid Makó, aka The Devil's Trade

HOTS-backed singer-songwriter Dávid Makó, aka The Devil's Trade

With pioneers such as Laszlo Hegedus, Hungary arguably led the way when it came to introducing international artists to eastern Europe, with iconic events including Queen’s 1986 stadium show five years before the end of the Cold War, putting Budapest, in particular, firmly on the map.

As one of the continent’s most central nations, Hungary has since become a regular destination on European tours, while festivals like Sziget, Balaton Sound, Strand, B my Lake and many more, attract numerous international artists to visit the country each year. Those events also provide a fantastic platform for local talent to grow their audiences, as the likes of Sziget Festival brings in tens of thousands of visiting fans from other countries, eager to soak up the atmosphere, while discovering new artists to add to their playlists and concert plans.

Helping the country’s domestic acts take their music to other territories is Hungarian Oncoming Tunes (HOTS), the Hungarian music export office, which was established in 2017 by the National Cultural Fund’s Hangfoglaló Programme – initially aimed at organising delegations to attend showcase events Eurosonic, Tallinn Music Week and MENT.

“After this goal was fulfilled, HOTS was incorporated into the Hangfoglaló Programme and has since gradually been transformed into an official music export office,” explains HOTS international relations executive, Lucia Nagyová. The HOTS initiative came about as a direct result of Hungary’s fight against online piracy, as the Cultural Fund is funded by royalty income from the sale of blank CDs and other media storage platforms. Local law dictates that 25% of that taxation has to be invested into cultural exposure.

“This law was aimed at helping authors and performers at the peak of online piracy to compensate the losses of the industry,” states Nagyová. The funding is paying off: last year, HOTS supported 103 Hungarian artists and 47 professional delegates in 42 countries. The money is also used by HOTS to organise a scheme comprising workshops; showcase appearances; an international mentor and art camp (Outbreakers’ Lab); and a songwriting camp where internationally acclaimed producers can collaborate with artists (SongLab).

“Covid forced us to completely redesign our activities”

“HOTS aims to promote up-and-coming Hungarian music on an international scale,” Nagyová continues. “We focus on stimulating the presence of Hungarian music in key markets by encouraging international touring, supporting PR campaigns, educational activities and providing professionals and newcomer managers with opportunities to participate at international music business events.”

Through a questionnaire, completed by more than 300 relevant stakeholders, HOTS keeps an up-to-date shortlist of the most export-ready artists to whom it can offer guidance and support, tailored to their respective needs. “The Hangfoglaló Programme board of trustees selects four internationally experienced acts each year to receive strategic support to bolster their presence on the markets or sectors essential to them,” says Nagyová, noting that this year’s chosen acts for the showcase are Дeva (Deva), The Devil’s Trade, OIEE and Saya Noé.

HOTS has compiled a Spotify playlist for IQ, featuring these acts and others that appear on the shortlist, which can be accessed by clicking here. As with many organisations in 2020, HOTS has had to continually reassess its plans, as the pandemic and associated restrictions forced event cancellations and effectively shut down most opportunities for artists to showcase their music.

“Covid forced us to completely redesign our activities,” says Nagyová. “Throughout the year, we carried on cooperating with our partners on international PR campaigns and added various online educational programmes aimed to make it easier for Hungarian stakeholders to adapt to the new situation and its challenges. Instead of contributing to the acts’ physical presence at international showcase festivals, we support them by creating digital content they can use in the future.”


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