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The vibrant music scene of the Balkans

Prepare to have your expectations shattered and your creative senses tingling because the Balkans are about to unleash their full artistic potential! Yes, you heard it right. The region that brought you stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a healthy dose of self-irony is now making waves in the music and artistic world.

Picture this: major record labels and big promoters, who once thought the Balkans were just a charming vacation spot, are now scrambling to establish their presence in this vibrant region. Why? Because they’ve finally realised that hidden within the Balkans is a goldmine of untapped opportunities and unbridled creativity.

Let’s address the elephant in the room. We all know that certain countries have faced their fair share of challenges. Russia, with its restrictive regulations, has put a damper on the music industry’s growth. And Ukraine, although we have high hopes for its comeback, has been facing obstacles in the live music sector. But fear not! The spotlight has shifted to the Balkans, and it’s ready to shine brightly like never before.

The Balkans, with its rich tapestry of cultures and an eclectic music scene, is a breeding ground for innovation and collaboration. It’s where traditional folk music dances with contemporary genres like pop, rock, and electronic music. Artists, producers, and industry professionals are flocking to the region, recognising the wealth of talent and the potential for groundbreaking cross-genre projects.

Now, let’s talk about why the Balkans are the place to be for music and artistic advancements:

The Balkans, with its growing economy and increasing disposable incomes, is the perfect breeding ground for a thriving music industry

Untapped Market Potential:
Imagine a market ready to embrace music and entertainment with open arms. The Balkans, with its growing economy and increasing disposable incomes, is the perfect breeding ground for a thriving music industry. Artists and music businesses have the opportunity to captivate a fresh audience, build a loyal fan base, and establish a strong presence in a market hungry for new sounds.

Cultural Diversity and Fusion:
Prepare to be dazzled by a diverse melting pot of cultures, traditions, and musical genres. The Balkans offer a vibrant tapestry of artistic expressions that range from traditional folk to cutting-edge electronic beats. By tapping into this cultural diversity, music businesses can create unique and captivating projects that resonate with a global audience. Collaborations with local artists will result in mind-bending cross-genre experiments that push boundaries and ignite imaginations.

Cost-Effective Touring and Production:
Forget about draining your bank account on extravagant tours. In the Balkans, touring becomes a cost-effective affair. The region’s smaller size and proximity between countries make it a breeze to navigate and perform in multiple markets without breaking the bank. And let’s not forget about production costs. The Balkans offer a fertile ground for creating and recording music without draining your creative budget. It’s a win-win situation for artists and music businesses alike.

Networking and Collaboration:
In the Balkans, the music community feels like one big, supportive family. The close-knit environment allows for meaningful connections and collaborations to flourish. From local festivals and industry conferences to impromptu jam sessions in cozy cafés, the opportunities for networking are endless. You’ll meet like-minded individuals who share your passion and vision, opening doors to collaborations that will take your artistic endeavors to new heights.

Filming and Creative Resources:
Lights, camera, action! The Balkans are not only a playground for musicians but also a paradise for filmmakers and creative professionals. Imagine picturesque landscapes, rich historical heritage, and cost-effective production options. It’s no wonder that blockbusters like 300 and music videos for artists like Ellie Goulding and Dua Lipa have embraced the Balkans as their backdrop. The region’s creative talent is also booming, with designers, photographers, videographers, and writers offering high-quality services at competitive prices. Outsourcing creative work to the Balkans is a smart move that guarantees exceptional results without breaking the bank.

The Balkans serve as a gateway to emerging markets, acting as a bridge between Central and Eastern Europe

Games and Technology:
Get ready for a gaming and tech revolution in the Balkans! The region boasts a talented workforce skilled in software development, design, animation, and more. With universities offering specialised programs tailored to the gaming and tech sectors, the Balkans are producing a pool of skilled professionals ready to innovate and create. The cost advantage of operating game development studios and tech companies in the region allows for investment in research and development, leading to high-quality products that are capturing the attention of the global market. Governments and local authorities are supporting this growth, providing funding, infrastructure, and incentives to nurture startups and foster collaboration. Brace yourselves for a wave of gaming and technological innovation from the Balkans.

Already, the region has showcased its prowess with standout games that have captured the hearts of gamers worldwide. Dive into the intense action and humour of the “Serious Sam” series developed by Croteam in Croatia. Embark on epic adventures in the long-standing MMORPG “RuneScape” with a dedicated development team in Serbia. Master the art of stealth and strategy in the critically acclaimed “Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun” from Bulgaria’s Mimimi Games. And explore the human impact of war in the gripping survival game “This War of Mine,” with contributions from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 11 bit studios.

But it’s not just about games. The Balkans also excel in providing top-notch IT services and software development, serving clients around the globe. From software development to cybersecurity, the region’s thriving industry is making its mark in the tech world.

Gateway to Emerging Markets:
The Balkans serve as a gateway to emerging markets, acting as a bridge between Central and Eastern Europe. Artists and music businesses who establish themselves in the Balkans gain access to a broader network and exciting opportunities for cross-cultural collaborations. Proximity to Turkey and the Middle East adds a sprinkle of spice to the mix, allowing for exploration of new markets and exposure to diverse audiences.

Now, the cherry on top of this artistic feast: the SoAlive Music Conference. This event is your gateway to the vibrant music scenes of the Balkans. From 19-21 October, the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria, will be buzzing with industry professionals, artists, and music enthusiasts, all eager to connect, share knowledge, and seize business opportunities. Whether you’re an established player in the industry or a rising talent, the SoAlive Music Conference is your ticket to expanding your horizons and staying ahead of the curve.

Secure your spot now and join us as we celebrate the creative powerhouse that is the Balkans. It’s time to unleash your full potential, network with like-minded individuals, and embark on a thrilling journey of artistic growth and innovation.

Get ready for the Balkans to shake up the music and artistic world. The stage is set, the spotlight is on, and the world is waiting for you to make your mark.

See you at the SoAlive Music Conference: 19-21 October, Sofia, Bulgaria! Click here to sign up to this year’s event.


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Latvia’s Positivus Festival moves to new location

Positivus, the Baltic region’s largest festival, is moving to a new location in Latvia’s capital city.

After 13 years in the Latvian coastal town of Salacgrīva, the festival will now take place in Riga’s Lucavsala park, located alongside the Daugava river.

Artists including Foo Fighters, Red Hot Chili Peppers, James Arthur, Ed Sheeran and Rammstein have delivered concerts in the park.

Caribou, Thundercat, Yves Tumor, Moses Sumney, Black Midi and Black Country, New Road have also been confirmed

This year’s edition of Positivus will see artists including A$AP Rocky, Megan Thee Stallion and Jamie xx perform in Lucavsala on 15 and 16 July.

Caribou, Thundercat, Yves Tumor & Its band, SoFaygo, Bas, Moses Sumney, Black Midi and Black Country, New Road have also been confirmed.

Positivus has gathered up to 30,000 fans from Latvia and abroad every year between 2007 and 2019, when it took a two-year break due to the pandemic.

The festival has previously hosted the likes of Muse, Nick Cave, Robert Plant, Iggy Pop, Imagine Dragons, Ellie Goulding, The xx, Sigur Rós and Sinéad O’Connor.


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‘He was a beautiful man’: Croatian promoter Jordan Rodic passes

Croatian concert promoter Jordan Rodić, responsible for bringing international greats including Sting, U2, Depeche Mode, Jamiroquai and Ennio Morricone to his home country, has died aged 43.

Rodić, the CEO of Premium Events and GigArt, and a longstanding ILMC member, took his own life in January after falling into depression following the last-minute cancellation of a planned show at the Roman amphitheatre in Rodić’s hometown, Pula, in August.

Zagreb-based artist manager, booker and promoter Hrvoje Hum, a longtime friend and colleague of Rodić, explains: “They [the artist’s management] sent him the contract one month prior to the show, and he was obliged to pay a percentage – 30–40% – immediately, and the rest a month before the show. As you know, in our business, it is ‘normal’ to be one or two weeks late with payment, we all collect money from the presale and then pay artists. Most of the biggest management [companies] tolerate this, especially if they know that have done many shows with them and you will work with them in the future.

“Unfortunately, management didn’t want to wait, and cancelled the show five days before it was supposed to happen. At that moment, Jordan personally lost at least €80,000…

“After that, he became depressed. He had two shows agreed for winter, and wanted to cancel them. […] I thought he would be fine, because we had some big plans for this and next year, and he was really excited about it. I don’t know why he did it [commited suicide] – a few hours before, we were on the phone and he looked forward to our next projects…”

Perhaps the biggest highlight of Rodić’s four-decade career in the live industry was selling out Maksimir Stadium in Zagreb with U2, where he and two other colleagues sold more than 120,000 tickets over two nights in 2009.

“He was a loving, caring, gentle, kind, beautiful man with a big heart”

He was also the driving force behind Marilyn Manson’s landmark Croatian show in 2005, as well as the local leg of the Bodies Revealed exhibition, which sold more than 800,000 tickets in a few months.

Jadranka Rodić, Jordan’s twin sister, describes her late brother as a “beautiful shining soul”.

“He has done so much for his family, friends, his city and his country,” she says. “He has achieved the unachievable: he worked and brought so many big stars  to Croatia and other countries, as music was his life and passion. He was a visionary man, of no limits, and his creativity and passion was so admirable.

“But, most of all he was a loving, caring, gentle, kind, beautiful man with a big heart. He was loved for who he was, all over the world, and he always will be. People respected him, and his energy was palpable. His heart, energy and vision were out of this world. He has done so much for all of us and the country, and he will be greatly missed.”

Jadranka tells IQ she hopes her brother’s death will raise awareness of the pressures facing all those working in the live industry, and the toll they can take on mental and physical health and wellbeing.

“The stresses, the risks and the pressure had made an impact on his mental health, and contributed to the outcome [his death],” she says. “But his vision was so advanced, and his actions so big, I can be only proud to be his sister. He brought energy, love, passion and new horizons to Croatia, and all of us can only be proud to have had such inspiration.”

“I know this business is ruthless, but the whole system has to change”

While Hum says the music industry is full of good people – Scott Mantell at ICM Partners, for example, was “really helpful” when Rodić, who counted Mantell as a friend, was struggling with mental illness and wanted to postpone two shows by Postmodern Jukebox in Zagreb and Belgrade – he warns that promoters are often seen as “replaceable”, despite their taking the risk on the show.

He says: “We are replaceable – they [agents] will find another promoter, who will pay a fee and [be prepared] to lose everything they have, or even doesn’t have. They don’t care about it. On the other side, I understand that they are responsible to the management, and they have to bring them money – I know this business is ruthless, but I think the whole system has to change.

“The tragic death of Jordan Rodić, and probably more promoters, has to contribute towards this, because all of us risk too much money just to bring culture to our area.”

Despite this ruthlessness, Rodić “loved what he did,” concludes Jadranka. “Music was truly his passion, and he lived it. He gave it his all, as he could see a higher vision and was fearless.

“He saw no limitations – as he knew music was life.”


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