The latest industry news to your inbox.

I'd like to hear about marketing opportunities


I accept IQ Magazine's Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

The New Bosses 2023: Katja Thalerová, LALA Slovak Music Export

The 16th edition of IQ Magazine’s New Bosses was published in IQ 121 this month, revealing 20 of the most promising 30-and-unders in the international live music business.

To get to know this year’s cohort a little better, IQ conducted interviews with each one of 2023’s New Bosses, discovering their greatest inspirations and pinpointing the reasons for their success.

Catch up on the previous interview with Jamie Shaughnessy, a music touring agent at CAA. The series continues with Katherina Thalerová, an artist/production manager for LaLa Slovak Music Export in Slovakia.

Katherina Thalerová graduated with a Master of Arts at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava. For the past five years, she has been leading partnerships and sponsorships of the SHARPE festival, an international showcase festival in Bratislava, which is the main project of the LALA Slovak Music Export office, where she works as a project manager.

Katja’s love for music is mirrored by her work as a booker and manager of several Slovak bands (including Tolstoys, Sam Handwich, God and Eve). As a production manager, she is involved in the indie regional Flaam festival and seasonally in the biggest Slovak music festivals, such as Pohoda, Grape, and Next. In addition to these projects, she occasionally collaborates with other festivals, cultural events and artists.

She is currently studying for a PhD at the Academy of Performing Arts in Bratislava (Theory and Dramaturgy of Music), where she also lectures on a number of subjects. Katja’s is also part of the emerging DJ duo Benefits with Friends.

When did you first realise you wanted to have a career in the music industry – and is anyone else in your family involved in music?
I realised I wanted to make a career in the music industry quite early on. My first realisation was when I was a teenager and I was fully influenced by the Slovak national radio station Rádio_FM (an alternative radio that played totally different music than commercial radios). This was one of the moments for me and then I found out that Pohoda festival exists. I think I was around 12 or 13 years old. The first time I went to Pohoda was when I was 16 and from then on there was no turning back (haha). Of course, all this could not have happened without my mother, who, although not from an artistic background, introduced me to music and art and built a lifelong love for them in me. My cousin plays in a smaller band, but generally family members around my age, we all have seven years of music education at elementary art schools and I studied piano and saxophone.

You and Michal Berezňák were behind the launch of the music export office. Can you tell us a bit more about it and some of the initiatives that it undertakes both in Slovakia and elsewhere?
LALA Slovak Music Export was established in 2016, I enthusiastically joined the team in 2018–2019. I have been working for LALA as a project manager for the last three years. Currently, we are running LALA together with my dear colleague Michal Berezňák. Our activities are focused on education (we love it when people learn about things that help them build a career) and the popularisation of work in culture. We actively hold networking events and our activities, especially, are aimed at connecting the Slovak music scene with foreign countries and presenting it to peculiarity. The biggest project of LALA is the international showcase festival Sharpe festival and conference, which we are extremely proud of. We also participate in its preparation with our dear Táňa Lehotská and a whole team of other great people.

Sharpe music festival and conference has been a big success in its first six years. What plans do you have to develop the event?
More than developing the event, our goal is to stabilise it in the form it is and how we see it working. We do not have the ambition to rapidly increase the capacity, we want the festival to operate consistently. We want to bring the best dramaturgy (we reached the number of 60 performers), and offer a stimulating and interesting conference part. Furthermore, we want to continue working with students more during the conference. An integral part of the development of the event is its partners, whether local or international. This is an important thing for us, on which we want and will work intensively. Our ambition is to retain visitors and attract new (curious) visitors who want to discover new fresh music from Slovakia and beyond.

“I would very much like people to respect each other’s work, to eliminate unnecessary rivalry and envy”

In terms of expanding your network of contacts, are there any events, platforms or forums you attend that you would recommend to others?
I am so happy that there are many things to be shared among the people! Sharpe music festival & conference, Pohoda festival, Flaam festival, Next festival, Grape festival, Sieť Anténa, Rádio_FM, LALA Slovak Music Export, Full Moon magazine (CZ), Ment festival (SI), Eastern European Music Academy (international) – a top online academy that delivers créme de la créme lessons from the top of the European music industry for 12 weeks. Together with Music Export Ukraine (UA) and Mastering the Music Busines (RO) we are part of this stunning project

As a New Boss, what would you like to change to make the live entertainment industry a better place?
I would very much like people to respect each other’s work, to eliminate unnecessary rivalry and envy. When people appreciate each other’s work, treat each other with respect, we will be able to progress better as a society and especially help each other. Related to this is the humility and modesty that people can exude.

It is important to inspire people and stay true to work in culture, because it enriches people, positively develops society, creates space for self-expression, encourages people to think out of the box, develops their mind and sensibility of perception of functioning in society and brings inspiration. Culture positively affects people’s lives and it is important that it does not disappear and remains here through various carriers.

Do you have a mentor, or anyone you rely on to bounce ideas off?
My mother has been my mentor throughout my life. She is a (voluntary) target of all my (crazy) ideas. My huge inspiration since my teenage years is Michal Kaščák from Pohoda festival. I can rely on my colleague Michal Berezňák, who also inspires me and of course on my partner.

What one thing would you like artists, fans, and other music industry professionals to learn about your country to persuade them to visit listen to some Slovak bands and artists?
Most of the artists of the alternative music scene are humble people whose expression is filled with pure love for music. Slovakia in general ranks among the smaller countries, but the tenacity and joy of playing is very great. A strong cultural community operates in Slovakia. It creates a feeling of lightness of being. And, Slovaks are very hospitable nation.

What has been the highlight of your career, so far?
My highlight has been that I am surrounded by great inspiring people, who spark me every day. Also, being a part of several Slovak festivals, such as Sharpe festival, Pohoda festival, Flaam festival, Next festival, MELA, Fest Anča, Febio fest, Grape festival and many other fantastic events. Yes, festivals are my passion.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

LGBTIQ+ List 2023: Roman Samotný, Queer Slovakia

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 Scott Robson, event manager at ASM Global in Newcastle, UK.

The series continues with Roman Samotný, (he, him/his), director at Queer Slovakia in Bratislava, Slovakia.

Roman Samotný studied journalism at Comenius University in Bratislava. After graduating, he worked as a screenwriter and dramaturge for various media. Since 2010, he has been a co-organiser of the Slovak Queer Film Festival. Roman is also the founder of Queer Slovakia, a platform producing queer parties and music events, as well as an online magazine. Part of the platform is Tepláreň, which started off as a party back in 2012 and later became a bar of the same name. However, the bar closed after a terrorist attack in 2022 and transformed into an educational and community space. Nowadays, Roman concentrates on the speaker’s role for the initiative Our Lives Are at Stake!

Tell us about the professional feat you’re most PROUD of in 2023 so far.
I like to reminisce about the Tepláreň Kiki Ball vogue event, where many great and different people were able to get together and compete at a palace in the centre of Bratislava. This event was also held as a reaction to the terrorist attack on bar Tepláreň, as it took place on the same street where the attack happened. The goal was to show, that as a queer community, we are strong, and we are not going anywhere.

Name one queer act you’re itching to see live this year.
This year, I am very excited to see Arca live at the Slovak music festival Pohoda. I am interested to see them perform and also to see the reaction of the Slovak audience.

What advice could you give to young queer professionals?
To believe in their dreams and set bold goals for themselves, but at the same time, to divide these goals into smaller steps that are more manageable one at a time.

What’s the best mistake you’ve ever made?
I started playing as a DJ too soon without the necessary experience and knowledge, but because of the mistakes I have made, I have learned a lot, and it pushed my DJ career to another level.

“As a queer community, we are strong, and we are not going anywhere”

In terms of challenges in the industry, what’s currently keeping you up at night?
Many people consider concerts as an opportunity for a good selfie or Instagram story, and in doing so, they forget to make a real connection with the artist.

How do you see the live music business developing in the next few years?
I see a new trend in the pace of the concerts and how they become this fast showcase, and at the same time, the audience becomes more and more impatient. However, I have also noticed that the borders between musical genres are becoming mixed and blurry, which I actually enjoy seeing. I am very interested to see how the music genres develop and what kind of reaction they end up provoking.

Name one thing you’d like to see the live music business change.
I would like to see musical performances become less schematic and let people and the artist find time to enjoy experiencing them.

Name one thing the industry could do to be a more equitable place.
Become less competitive and remind artists that through their music, they can not only entertain but also encompass important values.

Shout out to your biggest ally in the live music industry.
Michal Kaščák, the director of the largest Slovak festival, Pohoda.

Do you support any LGBTIQ+ causes?
Inporadňa, the psychological, social, and law advisory service for the LGBTI+ people in Bratislava.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.

Slovak pubs to host anti-fascist festival

Nearly 100 bars across Slovakia will next month welcome more than 140 acts for Slovenská krčma (‘Slovak Pubs’), an ‘anti-fascist’ festival organised in protest against growing support for far-right politics.

Beginning on Monday 4 and running until Sunday 16 February, Slovenská krčma will feature domestic stars such as Billy Barman, Para, Rozpor, Vec & Škrupo + Tono, Bez ladu a skladu, Modré Hory and Komajota, as well as emerging acts from a variety of genres.

The venues, meanwhile, include ‘proper’ pubs as well as cafés and clubs, in cities and towns including Bratislava, Hurbanovo, Námestovo, Trebišov and Hostovice, near the north-eastern border.

The latest opinion polling for shows the Direction – Social Democracy (Smer–SD) party with a narrow lead (-6%) over the ultranationalist, anti-gypsy People’s Party Our Slovakia (LSNS) – with many fearing that concerns over corruption could lead to a shock victory for the far right at Slovakia’s next parliamentary elections on 29 February 2020.

“Pub frequenters in Slovakia are not racist and do not identify with fascist views”

Meanwhile, Smer–SD’s leader, ousted ex-prime minister Robert Fico, is being investigated by police for supporting Milan Mazurek, an LSNS member of parliament fined and expelled for making racist statements, stating that Mazurek’s views reflect those of the average pub-going Slovak. Mazurek had said that “gypsy anti-socials have never done anything for the nation and never will” and compared gypsy (Roma) children to “animals in the zoo”.

In a statement, the event’s organisers, who are also the brains behind the country’s biggest music festival, Pohoda, say: “We believe that most of the pub frequenters in Slovakia are not racist and do not identify with fascist views. It was people who go to pubs that Robert Fico referred to when he said after Mazurek’s conviction: ‘If the Supreme Court’s verdict is to be a measure of what is a criminal offence regarding statements on Roma, police might as well enter any pub in Slovakia and lock up all the customers, including dogs lying on the ground.’

“We do not agree with the division of citizens into a café society and a pub society. We frequent both and we meet great people in pubs as well as in cafés. To show that Slovakia is not a racist country, we are organising the Slovak Pub festival.”

For more information about the festival, visit the Slovenská krčma website.


Get more stories like this in your inbox by signing up for IQ Index, IQ’s free email digest of essential live music industry news.