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Westway LAB celebrates 10th edition

The boutique conference and showcase event drew more than 140 delegates and thousands of music fans to Guimarães last week

By Gordon Masson on 19 Apr 2023

More than 140 delegates and thousands of music fans descended on the Portuguese city of Guimarães last week for the tenth edition of boutique conference and showcase event, Westway LAB.

The brainchild of music industry stalwarts Nuno Saraiva (conference director) and Rui Torrinha (festival director), the four-day event has attracted a loyal following over its first decade, thanks to a mix of informative workshops, seminars and panel sessions for the professional contingent, and a live music programme that involves artist residencies and collaborations that yield unique performances for those attending the showcase elements.

Delegates from around the world made their way to the city’s Centro Cultural Vila Flor for a series of debates and discussions that included such topics as Cooperation Strategies Between Export Offices; Promoting Positive Mental Health in the Music Industry; Sustainability; and What Lies Ahead for European Showcase Festivals. A series of artist talks, hosted in historic Guimarães venues, also allowed delegates to speak directly with musicians.

“It was a total expression of vitality of the music sector after some years of a serious backlash”

During the conference, acclaimed film director Rodrigio Areias delivered a keynote address about his relationship with music and film; Saraiva interviewed veteran record industry exec Kees van Weijen for another keynote session; while IQ editor Gordon Masson closed the conference proceedings by quizzing newly appointed Primavera Sound Madrid director Almudena Heredero about her career path, the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated business, and her hopes for the Primavera brand both in the Spanish capital and around the world.

On the showcase side of Westway LAB, the event hosted a special creation project by Edgarbeck which premiered as the festival’s opening concert, among 22 gigs in total. There were four artistic residencies, which were presented as showcases, while 2,200 fans bought tickets for the festival element of the event. Westaway also ran an innovative artistic market where record labels, vinyl sellers, illustrators and musicians were able to sell their merchandise.

The live music programme allowed a number of domestic Portuguese acts to showcase their talent, while musicians from Poland, Sweden, The Netherlands, France, Spain, Brazil, and Germany also benefitted from the exposure.

Festival director Torrinha says, “This tenth edition was a huge celebration of the power of creation through music: a total expression of vitality of the music sector after some years of a serious backlash.

“We had the luck to bring together, again, many amazing professionals and very talented artists that formed a special community for four days in Guimarães.”


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