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The Great Escape announces keynote speakers for 2024

The Great Escape has confirmed Pulp’s Jarvis Cocker as one of the keynote speakers of the newly revamped conference.

The UK music industry event returns to Brighton from Wednesday 15 May to Saturday 18 May, with the Council of Music Makers (CMM), The Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), BBC Introducing and Youth Music each set to curate a day of the programme.

On the Saturday of the conference, Cocker will present Biophobia, a special climate-themed talk about getting to grips with nature. The session will be presented by EarthPercent, the charity founded by Brian Eno to help the music industry support the most impactful organisations addressing the climate emergency.

Giving the conference’s opening keynote conversation on Wednesday 15 May, Darcus Beese OBE will reflect on his career as the UK’s first black record company CEO and one of the greatest A&Rs of his generation, having signed and nurtured artists like Amy Winehouse, U2 and Florence and the Machine. This conversation will come soon after the publication of his upcoming memoir ‘Rebel With A Cause’.

“Without a doubt, this is set to be an unmissable event for the UK industry”

On Thursday, Tom Gray (chair of the Ivors Academy and Labour Party PPC for Brighton Pavilion) and YolanDa Brown (OBE DL, musician, broadcaster and chair of the BPI) will deliver another keynote speech, discussing what the industry needs to do to protect music copyright and culture on a legislative level.

They join two previously announced keynote speakers: Lauren Mayberry (lead singer of CHVRCHES) and Sacha Lord (chair of the NTIA, co-creator of Parklife Festival and the Warehouse Project and Night Time Economy Adviser for Greater Manchester).

Also announced today, the Association of Independent Music joins as the conference’s newest industry collaborator, hosting three sessions centred on the independent music sector on the beach on Wednesday 15th May.

Rory Bett, CEO, MAMA Festivals, says: “From cultural icons to industry legends, our revamped conference has truly been supercharged with the calibre of these keynote speakers. Without a doubt, this is set to be an unmissable event for the UK industry.”


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GEI 16: Speakers and sessions unveiled

Speakers, sessions, exclusive research projects and case studies have been announced for the forthcoming edition of the Green Events & Innovations (GEI) conference.

The leading conference for sustainability in the events sector takes place on 27 February at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel as part of ILMC (the International Live Music Conference).

This year’s event will present the results of two exclusive research projects. The first, Accessibility and Sustainability at Festivals, will feature a unique partnership between AGF, Attitude is Everything, and Julie’s Bicycle. Farah Ahmed (Julie’s Bicycle) and Dr Teresa Moore (AGF) will introduce a toolkit that explores how disabled people’s access to music and live events can be environmentally sustainable.

This will be followed by a discussion featuring Mystery Jets singer and Attitude is Everything patron Blaine Harrison, Feimatta Conteh (Arts Council England), Harry Jones (Accessible Events Ltd), and is chaired by Tori Tsui.

The second session, Influencing Audiences Beyond the Festival, focuses on the influence of green festivals and is based on AGF research undertaken with award-winning UK festival Green Gathering. AGF’s Dr Teresa Moore and Green Gathering’s Em Weirdigan will discuss the findings of the research and how green festivals can positively influence audience attitudes and behaviours beyond the event itself.

Following on from last year’s panel, AEME (Association of Event Management Educators), GEI has again invited the association to bring together a panel of academics to discuss the demand for sustainability skills across the industry in Supporting sustainable employability skills for current and future generations of festival and events managers.

The results of the world’s first carbon-removed gig, featuring The 1975, will be discussed at GEI

In Presenting Ecosystem Collapse – Sponsored by Oil and Gas, Sangeeta Waldron (Serendipity PR) welcomes Luke Howell (Hope Solutions, fellow of IEMA, chartered environmentalist, and strategic sustainability lead for Coldplay and Glastonbury Festival) to discuss with Ed Collins (InfluenceMap) the issue of sponsorship and sustainability.

While Carol Scott (TAIT) and chair of LIVE Green welcomes a panel including Ross Patel (Whole Entertainment, Music Manager Forum) to explore how green clauses can become an integral part of standard industry contracts, and ways of doing business in the next step beyond Green Riders in Contracts for Climate.

In the week before GEI, The O2 will host the world’s first carbon-removed gig, featuring The 1975 in partnership with AGF and carbon-removal experts CUR8. The results of this event will be discussed in The World’s First Carbon-Removed Gig, which features Sam Booth (AEG Europe), Mark Stevenson (CUR8), and AGF’s Claire O’Neill.

Elsewhere in the agenda, acclaimed rapper, musician, nature filmmaker/presenter, zoologist, and activist Louis VI will deliver an impassioned speech in Nature Ain’t A Luxury. Louis VI will be joined by folksinger, activist, and Mercury Music prize nominee Sam Lee to explore the links between music, biodiversity and politics.

Extreme Weather Events: Adapting to the New Climate will highlight the ever-increasing issue of extreme weather events brought about by climate change and will feature the representatives of some of the events that were hit by extreme weather during the festival season of 2023, Yungblud and Massive Attack Tour Manager Jamal Chalabi (AGF / Backlash Productions), alongside Professor Richard Betts (Met Office, University of Exeter).

Returning for 2024 is the ever-popular Quick-Fire Innovation Round, hosted by Abena Fairweather (Legacy Marketplace), which brings the latest ideas and technologies driving sustainability in unique ways. Innovations include everything from blockchain for food traceability, recycled speakers, to biodegradable cable ties and much more.

More info and tickets here.


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XP Music Futures 2023: A catalyst for growth

XP Music Futures, the three-day music conference organised by MDLBEAST, is making waves in the MENA region, cultivating the music scene and community for its third consecutive year. The event, held at Riyadh’s JAX District from 7-9 December, offers a dynamic program that spans both day and night, featuring a remarkable 47.42% increase in the number of international, regional, and local speakers compared to the previous year, totaling 286 speakers.

Sessions at XP Music Futures addressed critical topics such as ‘Maintaining a Thriving Grassroots Culture,’ ‘Powering The Creative Economy with AI,’ and ‘Turning up for a Sustainable Future: Music for Climate Action.’ This regional-first event encompasses panels, workshops, live acts, retail experiences, and more, serving as a precursor to the grand SOUNDSTORM music festival from December 14th to 16th.

MDLBEAST CEO, Ramadan Alharatani says: “Over the past three years we have brought together the brightest minds in the music and entertainment industry from across the globe. We consider XP an incubator of talent and creativity—giving artists a platform, knowledge, tools, and network that they need to forge successful, sustainable, and profitable careers in the region and around the world.”

Diversity is a key focus, evident in the gender split of 48.25% female vs. 51.75% male, the international speakers comprising 51.7%, and regional/local speakers at 48.3%. With representation from over 30 nationalities, XP Nite promises an eclectic mix, featuring performances by more than 150 artists across seven event stages.

With each passing day, the event continues to amplify the nation’s cultural landscape

The captivating energy on display beautifully seized the momentum, highlighting the vast musical potential of Saudi Arabia. XP Music Futures, held at Riyadh’s JAX District, hosted sessions like ‘DJing & Turntablism Workshop with Nacho Marco’ and ‘Listen Up! The Importance Of Hearing Health.’

Beyond the music, the event offers a unique escape, known as “The Healing Oasis,” where nature, music, and art converge to create a sensory haven for attendees. Elevating the essence of music innovation in the Middle East, Hamaki spearheads “Beyond The Beats: Sony Music Middle East x Hamaki” at XP Music Futures. This distinctive workshop not only showcases Hamaki’s pioneering influence but also becomes a pivotal chapter in the event’s commitment to unravelling artistic frontiers and fostering educational brilliance.

As XP Music Futures transitions from day sessions to XP NITE, Saudi Arabia’s underground scene explodes with energy, featuring over 130 artists across seven stages. Notable collaborations like Noctuary x Yoyaku and MDLBEAST Records X SWANA Sound amplify the nightlife, keeping party-goers moving until the late hours. Among the diverse lineup, international acts such as Tinariwen from Mali and Chelina Manuhutu from the Netherlands bring their unique sounds, while local talents like Majid Untamed and Femme Fest x EQUAL Arabia’s lineup contribute to the eclectic mix, ensuring a dynamic and unforgettable three-day extravaganza.

XP Music Futures and its accompanying festival SOUNDSTORM not only showcase the present vibrancy of Saudi Arabia’s music scene but also contribute significantly to its future growth and cultural enrichment. With each passing day, the event continues to amplify the nation’s cultural landscape, solidifying its position as a catalyst for the music industry in the MENA region.


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ESNS 2024 draws 4,000 European execs

The 38th edition of ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag) drew 4,000 music professionals from Europe plus delegations from countries such as Canada, India and Mexico, it has been revealed.

The European showcase festival and conference took place between 17–20 January in Groningen, the Netherlands, and featured a total of 40,000 fans and professionals from around the world – around 4,000 less than last year.

More than 500 speakers participated in the conference, including keynote speakers Amy Thomson (formerly Hipgnosis, ATM Artists), John Mulder (MOJO Concerts/Live Nation) and Mark Mulligan (MIDiA Research).

In addition, 280 new European acts showcased their talents, including 12 from the 2024 focus country Poland. ESNS this year expanded its Noorderslag programme this year, showcasing 50 Dutch acts on Saturday.

“ESNS continues to play an indispensable role for the Dutch and European music community”

Elsewhere, the European Festival Awards, which took place on the opening night of ESNS (Wednesday 17 January), honoured executives including Wasserman’s Tom Schroeder, Lowlands promoter Eric van Eerdenburg and Lifetime Achievement honouree Ruud Berends.

“Once again, Groningen was the music capital of Europe and beyond,” says Frans Vreeke, interim director of ESNS.

“Thanks to the dedication and quality of artists, visitors, delegates, and our staff, we had a wonderful week with an amazing atmosphere. ESNS continues to play an indispensable role for the Dutch and European music community, especially for Dutch talent. Eurosonic, Noorderslag, and the conference once again showcased the strength and diversity of European pop culture. We look forward to the year ahead where we will undoubtedly see many acts that have proven themselves at ESNS on the stages of European summer festivals.”

ESNS 2025 will take place from 15–18 January in Groningen, the Netherlands, with Italy as the Focus Country.

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ESNS appoints Anna van Nunen as GM

ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag) has appointed Anna van Nunen as the new general manager.

Her appointment is effective from 18 March, succeeding Dago Houben, who announced his departure last June. Frans Vreeke temporarily filled the position in the interim.

Nunen is an experienced executive who places sustainable entrepreneurship at the core of her career. She founded Innofest, a platform where numerous sustainable enterprises can test their innovations at Dutch festivals.

As the commercial director of Greener Power Solutions, a pioneer in clean mobile battery power at events, she was responsible for the startup’s growth into a European scale-up. She is also the founder of the lobbying platform ‘Ikd Lobby’ and actively participates as a keynote speaker, panellist, and moderator at events such as ESNS, Amsterdam Dance Event, and Dutch Design Week.

“ESNS is entering a new phase, one that requires new leadership”

Having grown up frequenting Groningen’s pop venues Vera and Simplon, Anna has ESNS marked in her calendar every year. She eagerly anticipates her new role, stating: “Having grown up in Groningen and with a big heart for the music sector, it is a huge honour to start working as director at Eurosonic Noorderslag. I am eager to strengthen the conference and festival with the team. In the coming years, I want to ensure a future-proof organisation and a rock-solid positioning of ESNS in Europe.”

Jeroen van Erp, Chairman of the Supervisory Board of ESNS adds: “ESNS is entering a new phase, one that requires new leadership. As a Supervisory Board, we are very pleased with the appointment of Anna van Nunen as director. With her background in the festival world, experience in sustainability and the start-up world, she embodies what we stand for: Always looking for new talent, new developments where inclusivity and sustainability are of paramount importance.”

ESNS will take place between 17–20 January 2024 in Groningen, the Netherlands.


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Tom Windish, Kim Bloem and more set for ESNS 2024

ESNS (Eurosonic Noorderslag) has announced a second wave of speakers for the forthcoming edition, taking place between 17–20 January 2024 in Groningen, the Netherlands.

Tom Windish (Wasserman Music), Kim Bloem (Mojo Concerts), Bryan Johnson (Spotify) and Gemma Bradley (musician, presenter, DJ) will be discussing The Art of Curation during a session moderated by Boyan Pinter (Believe, Spike Bulgarian Music Showcase, Green Futures Field Glastonbury).

While Beckie Sugden (CAA) and Carlos Abreu (UTA) join Touring in ’24: Are There Bumps in the Road?, moderated by ILMC’s Greg Parmley.

Also lined up for ESNS 2024 are Henrik Bondo Nielsen and Morten Therkildsen (Roskilde Festival), Pascal Viot (Paléo), Sander Teunissen (Crowdcows) and Alexandra von Samson (Rock am Ring), who will be discussing Crowd Communication to Improve Event Safety Management.

Plus, representatives from festivals such as Pinkpop, Way Out West and Positivus share with Lisa Henderson (IQ) how they keep their festivals relevant in the lives of millions of young people, and in popular culture in general.

Beckie Sugden (CAA) and Carlos Abreu (UTA) join Touring in ’24: Are There Bumps in the Road?

In a panel discussion moderated by Katharina Webe (BN*PD YOUROPE), Mika Christoffersen (Roskilde Festival), Artur Mendes (Boom Festival), and Marta Pallarès (Primavera Sound) equip delegates with a Diversity & Inclusion Toolbox.

Other speakers include Márk Bóna (Sziget Festival), Claire O’Neill (A Greener Future), Helen Sildna (Tallinn Music Week), Tessaly Felida (MOJO Concerts) and Jess Partridge (EMMA).

The new additions join previously announced keynote speakers Amy Thomson (formerly Hipgnosis, ATM Artists), John Mulder (MOJO Concerts/Live Nation) and Mark Mulligan (MIDiA Research).

Live acts for the European Festival Awards (EFA) on 17 January have also been announced, with Polish pop sensation Berry Galazka, Limerick folk trio Kingfishr and British indie band Picture Parlour due to take to the stage.

As previously announced, Ruud Berends will be honoured with the Lifetime Achievement Award at EFA. See the shortlists for 12 of the ceremony’s categories here.


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Teo details the Touring Exhibitions Pavilion 2024

Teo (Touring Exhibitions Organisation) has announced two special conference sessions dedicated to the latest trends and experiences in international touring exhibitions, for the Touring Exhibitions Pavilion 2024.

The Pavilion will take place in Paris as part of Museum Connections, an international trade fair focusing on the business and sustainable challenges of museums, cultural and touristic venues, that has been running for 25 years.

Taking place over 16–17 January at Porte de Versailles, Teo’s sessions will see international producers and specialists in art, science, design, history, natural history, world cultures, popular culture and technology exhibitions present their latest productions and insights.

Speakers include American Museum of Natural History, the Design Museum, the Musée de la civilisation and Québec

Visitors will have the opportunity to discover new experiences presented by speakers from the American Museum of Natural History, the Design Museum, the Musée de la Civilisation, Québec, National Museums Scotland, lililillilil, Science Museum Group, PANART Connections, Nomad Exhibitions, Cap Sciences, Contemporanea Progetti, MEDARTEC, la Sucrière, Grand Palais Immersif, Science Centre Singapore.

Other speakers represent the Natural History Museum, Culturespaces Digital, PHI Studio, Universcience – cité des sciences et de l’industrie & Palais de la découverte, ACMI, ASTER, Project Holocene, Muséum national d’histoire naturelle, Tempora, Lascaux international exhibition, Citéco – Cité de l’économie, Disgusting Food Museum, World Touring Exhibitions.

The conference sessions will also be made available online on the Teo platform after the event.


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The Great Escape details ‘revamped’ conference

UK showcase festival and conference The Great Escape (TGE) is undergoing a revamp for next year’s instalment, slated for 15–18 May in Brighton.

The event, which is operated by Live Nation’s MAMA, has invited new expert collaborators from across the music industry to help shape and elevate its programming.

The Council of Music Makers, Night Time Industries Association (NTIA), BBC Introducing LIVE and Youth Music will each present a day of the conference using their expertise and networks to “take TGE to the next level”.

The BPI, meanwhile, will host a welcome party on the beach on Wednesday 15 May to kick off proceedings.

“We’re very excited to have these amazing organisations on board as collaborators for our conference,” says Rory Bett, CEO of MAMA Festivals. “They’re all tapped into key areas of the music ecosystem for anyone forging a career in the modern industry, from bedroom artists to experienced professionals and entrepreneurs. Together, we’ll be curating a cutting-edge line-up. Watch this space.”

It has also been announced that Spain is TGE’s Lead Country Partner for 2024, following Italy last year. Led by The Spanish Wave and TGE, they will present a full programme with two showcases, panels on the Spanish music industry and industry receptions.

“These organisations are tapped into key areas of the music ecosystem for anyone forging a career in the modern industry”

Sila Lua, a Galician-born artist creating dance music with an experimental flair, is the first Spanish performer to be announced.

TGE’s first Spanish partners include The Spanish Wave, AIE, Fundaćion SGAE, Instituto Cervantes, Live Nation Spain, Ticketmaster Spain and Mondo Sonoro.

“Everyone is looking at Spain and Latam at the moment,” says César Andión, head of The Spanish Wave. “We are the gateway and bridge to Europe and Latinoamerica. Spain has a thrilling industry in talent and structure, a large and varied roster of festivals, venues, promoters and labels, so we are incredibly happy to coordinate Spain as Lead Country at the most exciting, well-curated showcase festival and conference in the United Kingdom. After years of bringing The Spanish Wave showcase to Brighton, now it’s time to highlight our vibrant industry with receptions, panels and the freshest and hottest music. ¡Nos vemos en Brighton!”

The showcase side of TGE is also taking shape, with the announcement of Faye Webster for the first Spotlight show.

While, earlier this week, TGE held its First Fifty launch, which celebrated the announcement of the first acts playing at next year’s festival.

Sid Sriram, Victoria Canal, Olivia Lunny and Sirens Of Lesbos were among the acts that delivered First Fifty live showcases in and around East London on 15 November.

For more information and tickets, visit https://greatescapefestival.com/.


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BALKAN:MOST event blows minds in Veszprém

How do you make a sold-out street fiesta celebrating a musical niche removed from its place of origin, attracting small-town folks and seasoned professionals? BALKAN:MOST pulled off just that in the Hungarian town of Veszprém, between 7 and 9 September, with free entry. Taking showcase festivals to the next level, it acted as a roll-call for Balkan talent, and people loved it.

Location, location, location
Veszprém is small in comparison to say Budapest, but a neat little cultural hub seated in the picturesque Balaton region – rich in wines, views and prime venues. The town used the impetus of Veszprém-Balaton 2023 European Capital of Culture year to the max. BALKAN:MOST Showcase and Conference, in cooperation with WOMEX, acted as a double-edged sword: it attracted European music buffs besides bagging popular appeal. The crowds – over a tenth of the city’s population – chanting along to Bosnian ska punk or falling in love with heritage-inspired R’n’B would definitely agree. Organisers Hangvető delivered production seamlessly as per usual, nursing delegates along to revelative experiences and fruitful networking. BALKAN:MOST represented the region in its diversity and carried out an ambitious professional agenda and a three-day street fiesta. No coincidence, in a city that has welcomed buskers at its Street Music Festival for decades, and where locals easily take to quirky musicians occupying their quaint streets.

“MOST gave us a big boost, and a new network. We learnt a lot about how the music industry works”

Clever Programming
Organisers relied heavily on the Balkan brand, while questioning and broadening its content. The term oversteps the backlog of ‘world music’, while suggesting that musical heritage is indeed involved. Showcase bands had already had an established working relationship with the team, who began to map out the region’s talent and industry as part of project MOST.

“This is the most important event to show almost everything this project has achieved in these years, like a final exam. Except it already includes the celebration afterwards,” as Balázs Weyer, MOST mentor and programming director at Hangvető put it.

The showcase and conference was the pinnacle of a four-year-long development project ‘bridging’ the gap still dividing the Balkans with the rest of the European market. MOST literally means bridge in Slavic languages, also resonating with Hungarian and English speakers. Thirty-two bands, 100 managers and 60 festivals received a boost throughout the programme, in the form of mentoring, training, networking and performance opportunities. Some, like Divanhana, champions of sevdah, went through rapid evolution: professional awards and attention are resulting in more and more invitations outside their home.

“Being the only Finnish-Bulgarian singer can be lonely. With MOST, I was brought to this big family of Balkan musicians”

Bridge through music
The mastermind behind the project, the festival and MOST’s long-term mission is Hangvető, a Budapest-based 360° music firm with increasing scope in its region and beyond. They initiated the cooperation with 11 Balkan and European partners (BOZAR, EXIT, European Music Council among them), secured funding from Creative Europe, and threw in their expertise and professional network. They recognised the impact hands-on training and personal connections can have on artists’ careers. MOST set off a new generation of not only musicians but other professionals with closer ties in Europe, and made it all visible through BALKAN:MOST. But will it remain a one-hit wonder?

Repeating MOST magic
Inspirational gigs at BALKAN:MOST underlined two key factors of the region’s scene: its kaleidoscopic diversity and underrepresented nature. A sense of shared Balkan belonging emerged among artists emerged as an added extra. Feedback across all tiers of the industry agrees that MOST succeeded in its mission, but the quest remains. A tangible legacy seems to be the personal pathways across two ends of Europe, and within the Balkans itself.


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XP Music Futures unveils first phase of ’23 lineup

XP Music Futures, the leading music conference in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has revealed the first phase of speakers for its highly anticipated 2023 lineup.

Taking place between 7-9 December, this year’s XP sets the stage for the next generation of musical minds, welcoming visitors of all ages for the very first time. 2023’s programming promises an experience that’s as eye-opening as it is star-studded, led by none other than Emirati superstar Balqees Fathi, multi-platform hip-hop sensation Abyusif and Canadian-Iranian businesswoman Golnar Khosrowshahi.

This year’s event builds on its already unparalleled platform, spotlighting MENA’s thriving nightlife industry, fostering collaboration, and boasting the talents of artists and professionals from the region to eyes and ears worldwide.

Diversity has always been at the heart of XP Music Futures, with the previous edition boasting an impressive 44% representation of women speakers. The upcoming conference is no exception, featuring an array of prominent voices from a range of backgrounds– both personal and professional.

XP Music Futures has also pulled back the curtain on its acclaimed NITE Program lineup

The prominent and influential speakers gracing XP Music Futures’ 2023 agenda include the versatile and talented Emirati sensation Balqees Fathi, who will share insights from her journey to stardom, as well as HH Mashael AlShalan, Co-founder of AEON COLLECTIVE, joining to shed light on the intersection of music and climate action. Abyusif, a global rap influencer, explores the evolution of Arabic hip-hop alongside pioneer of the genre Malikah. Golnar Khosrowshahi, CEO of Reservoir, will discuss her journey in shaping the first female-led independent music company in the US and the importance of empowering creativity.

The lineup continues with renowned light artist Christopher Bauder, who will test the boundaries of immersive musical experiences. Wassim Bou Malham, Co-Founder of Factory People, shares insights on creating sustainable venues, and bilingual Jordanian singer Reina Khoury will host a session to shed light on the importance of cross-cultural collaborations in today’s borderless industry.

XP Music Futures has also pulled back the curtain on its acclaimed NITE Program lineup, teasing a range of showcase events through a hand-selected first phase announcement. Japanese DJ and producer Satoshi Tomiie will be making his way to Riyadh to showcase his exceptional jazz-infused House sounds as part of the collaboration between the French record label Yoyaku and Saudi collective Noctuary.

The Saudi-based label Wall of Sound will be showcasing an array of artists, including Egyptian producer El Waili. The Amman-based Vortex crew will also be present at XP, with artists such as Kosh, who will be delivering a one-of-a-kind live performance. Syrian funky and disco infused duo TootArd are also set to perform at JAX District for XP’s NITE program as part of Keife Records’ showcase, alongside the electric Malinese Tuareg band Tinariwen, and Saudi collective Untamed, who will be showcasing the Berlin-based DJ Paramida.

Having already built its reputation on captivating attendees with engaging sessions, skill-enriching workshops, and genuine networking opportunities, this year’s XP Music futures guarantees to up the ante. The conference invites music enthusiasts, professionals, and innovators to join in Riyadh from 7-9 December and play an active role in shaping the future of the global music industry.

Tickets for XP Music Futures 2023 are available here.


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