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LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Boyan Pinter, SPIKE

Continuing a series of interviews with this year's queer pioneers, IQ speaks to the Sofia-based founder/director of SPIKE Bulgarian Music Showcase

By Lisa Henderson on 31 Jul 2023

The LGBTIQ+ List 2023 – IQ Magazine’s third annual celebration of queer professionals who make an immense impact in the international live music business – has been revealed.

The ever-popular list is the centrepiece of IQ’s third Pride edition, sponsored by Ticketmaster, which is now available to read online and in print for subscribers.

To get to know this year’s queer pioneers a little better, we interviewed each of them on the development of the industry, the challenges that are keeping them up at night and more.

Throughout the next month, IQ will publish a new interview each day. Check out yesterday’s profile with Frederik Diness Ove, founder of Queer Music Agency in Copenhagen, Denmark.

The series continues with Boyan Pinter (he/him/his/they/them/theirs), founder/director at SPIKE Bulgarian Music Showcase in Sofia, Bulgaria.

Born in Bulgaria, educated and matured in the US, Boyan Pinter (Boiadjiev) has been working in the music industry for over 20 years. He is a college-educated musician, linguist, music manager, and soon-to-be solicitor.

Boyan has worked with the Lotus World Music Festival in Bloomington, IN; Sofia Music Enterprises (Live Nation); and as a freelance production specialist and promoter for a number of concerts at the Antique Theater Plovdiv, Bulgaria.

Their current roles include A&R for Believe Music in Bulgaria; director at SPIKE Bulgarian Music Showcase; booking and production at the Green Futures Field at Glastonbury Festival; and as a promoter with PanHarmony/Blue Hills Events.

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2023 so far.
We are breaking new ground for the Bulgarian music industry, and I am happy to have brought a good number of “firsts” in terms of opportunities and contacts to the local community. I am quite proud of the success we’ve had with SPIKE over the course of the three years it has been in existence. We try to tackle many issues under the blanket of ‘showcase festival and conference’. Much like peeling layers of an onion, it can be unpleasant to get to the core, and it comes at a cost, but in the end, we are able to both deliver on what the local music industry needs and converse about the difficult issues that contemporary society is facing. Tolerance and inclusivity of the queer community in the local industry being one of the focus points. Thanks to the connections made at SPIKE, this year we were able to facilitate the first professional songwriting camp for one of Bulgaria’s best and brightest pop stars. Songwriters from Sweden, Latvia, Romania, and Bulgaria wrote the material for her upcoming album in a little under a week. Another positive “first” for the local industry.

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
Oh, there are so many. If it must be just one, then it will have to be Lil Nas X on the Pyramid Stage at Glastonbury Festival this year. I also heard that our friends at Block 9 have got something special planned, so I am itching to see that. I am also excited to see the artist Satch perform at Brighton Pride this August. Locally, I am excited to see the band IVA. They have been growing in leaps and bounds.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
Even though it may be difficult, find the space where your authentic and creative self can develop and thrive, and make that space your own. Learn to trust your instincts and strive to be fair and balanced in your judgements. It may surprise you, but you are very much not alone in this, so don’t hesitate to reach out to anyone whom you can trust for advice or just a chat. You will also do well to erase the abbreviation “FOMO” from your lexicon. Especially the word that starts with “f.” We can’t be physically present in two places at once, so learn to enjoy every interaction at every event you will visit as a professional. Be in the moment and immerse yourself in experiences. You’ll be pleasantly surprised in the connections you make this way.

“I keep reminding myself that lasting, and hopefully meaningful, change takes time to seed, sprout, and take up roots”

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
The best mistake I made was to manage artists whom I strongly believed in, as early as possible in my career. Evidently, things didn’t work out as I hoped they would, but these experiences taught me to cope with the feelings of disappointment and frustration, which unfortunately come with the territory. This was a way to build resilience and to keep one’s head above water. Once you become familiar with your authentic self and you are aware of your own methods and approach to the work you do, it becomes easier to say “yes” or “no” to engagements.

In terms of challenges in the industry, what’s currently keeping you up at night?
I am frustrated that change is slow to take place. However, I keep reminding myself that lasting, and hopefully meaningful, change takes time to seed, sprout, and take up roots. That viral dance hit from last year came and went very quickly, but the message in the songs of k.d. lang, Tears for Fears, or Leonard Cohen have grown stronger with time. There are many things that worry me on a local and global level. In my trips, I still see a reluctance to innovate and integrate new approaches and practices into our work routine. The arts are in a constant state of refinement and experimentation, so we have to allow for this to spill over to the professional side of the industry. We must meet the artist halfway and not shy away from getting our hands dirty. There is a lot of lofty commentary about it, but at the end of the day, someone will have to get things done.

How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
I can already see a palpable change in the industry. A new generation of artists and music consumers has arrived in the Balkans, which is driving productivity, music consumption, and of course, revenue. I am also incredibly grateful to have many mentors today, legendary movers and shakers that were agents of change in the past have embraced this new role in the industry and are helping us navigate the new business landscapes by taking a page from their books. Their knowledge is worth its weight in gold.

“In creating a closed group that services a particular echelon in our industry, we seem to be moving away from understanding”

Name one thing you’d like to see the live music business change.
This is a very difficult question to answer because the layers of our industry, in my mind, work like an ecosystem. Changing one factor will inevitably cause a ripple effect down the line. I think we need a change in recognising the value of diversity and the multiple intelligences that our fellow professionals bring to the table. This would create an internal system of checks and balances that would prevent problems with communication, increase transparency, move toward a healthier life-work balance, and ultimately increase the financial and human resources we can all partake in.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
We could refocus our efforts on inclusivity, rather than exclusivity. In creating a closed group that services a particular echelon in our industry, we seem to be moving away from understanding, relating, and communicating with the diverse pool of fellow professionals we have and toward an exclusive, closed group, for members only. I see this as being contrary to the values that we aspire to defend and nurture. I realise that many of my fellow professionals feel that “it’s our time now,” and we are in a better position to make decisions about our present and future in the industry. However, with this newfound power comes even greater responsibility. We must not lose focus on the fact that we fought to have an equal standing in the industry, and once that door is opened, we must keep it ajar for those who wish to follow in our footsteps.

Shout out to your biggest ally in the live music industry.
I must note that I wouldn’t be able to do what I do and be myself in the industry without the support of my partner. I would like to give a shout-out (with much gratitude) to Sandy Graham, Peter Åstedt, and Anca Lupes for being amazing. I want them to know how much I value our friendship. We are stronger together!

Do you support any LGBTIQ+ causes?
I support and make frequent donations to Allout.org.


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