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Tom Windish: ‘I miss the days when guys would threaten to run over my hand…’

Veteran agent Tom Windish has spoken of his nostalgia for the live music industry of old, dominated by “entrepreneurs”, “impresarios” and “lunatics obsessed by music”.

Windish – who sold his Windish Agency to Paradigm in 2015 – was one of the keynote speakers at last week’s Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) conference in the Netherlands, where he was interviewed by ILMC MD Greg Parmley.

Speaking to Parmley about his early days in the business, when he ran a company called Bug Booking (“because I was bugging people to book my bands”) following a short-lived internship at WMA (“I was told I wasn’t William Morris material”), Windish recalled: “I was doing a few shows at [New York club] the Knitting Factory in the Bug era, and the owner of the venue said to try and get Yo La Tengo.

“The band’s agent at the time, Bob Lawton, wasn’t returning my calls, so I phoned the lead singer directly. Bob came back five minutes later and told me, ‘Don’t ever call one of my acts again, or I’ll come over and run over your hand with a taxi so you can’t ever make a call again.’”

“I miss the days of the entrepreneurs, the impresarios – even the guy who threatened to run over my hand!” he continued. “I don’t think we’re going back to that, when it was just these lunatics obsessed by music… It’s becoming much more corporate.

“But there are lots of great things, too. The fact that more artists are selling tickets and making a living is fantastic; back in the day, some of these artists would never be discovered without the data we have now.”

Windish also spoke on the increased role booking agents have in talent development, compared to when he started out in the ’90s.

“I don’t think we’re going back to that, when it was just these lunatics obsessed by music”

“We [agents] often get involved years before a label is helping,” he explained. “JS Ondara is releasing his debut album [Tales of America] on Verve this month; I signed him two years ago. That’s a real issue these days: the lack of help for these great artists early on, and the amount of time they have to wait for it.

“These big companies are relying on data and [in the case of Ondara] there were no streams.

“When I started doing this, the record labels told me what to do, what cities to play, they put the bills together, et cetera. It’s the opposite now: agents are leading that development and labels are getting involved later.”

The 33rd edition of ESNS wrapped up on Saturday 19 January at the Oosterpoort in Groningen, Netherlands, having been attended by a total of 42,789 visitors, of which 4,135 were conference delegates.

Other speakers included Fruzsina Szép of Lollapalooza Berlin, Cindy Castillo from Mad Cool Festival, Mojo’s Kim Bloem and Key Music Management’s Richard Jones, as well as Pinkpop director Jan Smeets, whose keynote interview focused on the 50-year history of the legendary Dutch festival.

Outside of the conference programme, highlights included the European Festival Awards and A Greener Festival Awards, as well as a total of 342 shows in 52 venues across the city.

Eurosonic returns on 15–18 January 2020.

 


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European Festival Awards 2018: The winners

Pohoda, Wacken Open Air, NorthSide, Mojo Concerts and CAA’s Mike Greek were among the winners at last night’s tenth-anniversary European Festival Awards 2018, held at Eurosonic Noorderslag in Groningen.

Hosted for the final time by IQ editor Gordon Masson and Glastonbury Festival/Yourope lawyer Ben Challis, the awards once again recognised excellence in 15 categories, with the biggest prizes of the night – best major festival and line-up of the year – going to Judas Priest-headlined Wacken Open Air and Roskilde Festival, respectively.

Roskilde was a double winner, also taking home the health and safety award for the second year running, with Pohoda Festival winning the Take a Stand Award and its festival director, Michal Kascak, the prize for excellence and passion.

The Netherlands’ Mojo (Pinkpop, North Sea Jazz, Down the Rabbit Hole) won best promoter, while Denmark’s NorthSide was recognised as the best medium-sized festival and Romania’s ARTmania the best small event.

Pohoda, Wacken Open Air, NorthSide, Mojo Concerts and CAA’s Mike Greek were among the winners

As previously announced, Eurosonic Noorderslag co-founder and outgoing creative director Peter Smidt took home the lifetime achievement award.

Performances on the night came from Grant and Bishop Briggs, with the main artist’s award, for best newcomer, being awarded to Greta Van Fleet.

A full list of winners is below.

Best New Festival
Rolling Stone Park

The Health & Safety Innovation Award
Roskilde Festival

Agent of the Year
Mike Greek, CAA

Best Small Festival
ARTmania Festival

The Green Operations Award
DGTL Amsterdam

Promoter of the Year
Mojo Concerts

Line-up of the Year
Roskilde Festival

Best Indoor Festival
WOS Festival

The Take a Stand Award
Pohoda Festival

The Brand Activation Award
Fortum at Ruisrock

Newcomer of the Year
Greta van Fleet

Best Medium-Sized Festival
NorthSide Festival

The Award for Excellence & Passion
Michal Kascak, Pohoda Festival

Best Major Festival
Wacken Open Air

The Lifetime Achievement Award
Peter Smidt

 


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Peter Smidt steps down as ESNS creative director

After 33 years, Peter Smidt has stepped down as creative director of Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) for health reasons.

Smidt, who will receive the lifetime achievement award at next week’s European Festival Awards 2018, originally founded the event that became ESNS in 1986. Initially through Stichting Pop Groningen, and later as a programmer of the Groningen venue de Oosterpoort (the home of ESNS), Smidt organised a battle of the bands between Dutch and Belgian acts, dubbed Holland-Belgium.

Holland-Belgium was later named Noorderslag, then Eurosonic Noorderslag, and has over the past four decades grown into one of Europe’s most important music industry events.

Smidt is also the founder of the European Talent Exchange Programme (Etep), an international partnership between ESNS and European festivals, radio stations and export offices, while ESNS is also home to the European Festival Awards and the new Music Moves Europe Talent Awards (formerly the European Border Breakers Awards, or EBBA).

Robert Meijerink succeeds Smidt as ESNS’s head of programme, while Ruud Berends remains head of the conference and Joey Ruchtie responsible for the conference’s Dutch acts. Smidt will stay on in an advisory capacity.

“Without Peter’s enthusiasm, vision and determination, we would never have been where we are now”

Thanking Smidt on behalf of ESNS, Dago Houben, managing director, and Pierre Ballings, chairman of the supervisory board, say in a joint statement: “Peter was unmistakably of the greatest importance for the development of the event. Without his enthusiasm, vision and determination, we would never have been where we are now.

“We are very, very grateful for everything he has done and we are very happy that he will continue to advise us in the coming years.

“This allows us to look forward with confidence, and we believe that his ideas, his vision, experience and network will also be sufficiently secured in the future. ”

“Looking back on great years with beautiful results, I am unfortunately forced to say goodbye to my beloved work for ESNS because of the deterioration of my health,” comments Smidt. “I remain available as an advisor while a fantastic team of capable colleagues is ready to take over my duties.

“I leave ESNS in their hands with confidence.”

 


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One week countdown for ESNS 2019 begins

Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), the largest showcase of promising European music talent, kicks off next Wednesday in Groningen, the Netherlands. This year’s festival promises to host 350 acts and more than 4,000 conference delegates, including festival bookers, expert panellists and other important industry figures.

ESNS serves as a key exchange for emerging European artists, combining a packed daytime conference schedule with an equally jammed evening live music programme. The De Oosterport conference centre in Groningen acts as the festival hub, a centre for industry networking, engaged debate and live music expertise.

Each year, the festival concentrates on showcasing talent from a specific focus nation. For ESNS 2019, the focus becomes double, with acts from both the Czech Republic and Slovakia taking centre stage.

ESNS serves as a key exchange for emerging European artists, combining a packed daytime conference schedule with an equally jammed evening live music programme

The festival opens on 16 January with the European Festival Awards (EFA), at which Peter Smidt, ESNS founder and creative director, will accept the prestigious lifetime achievement award.

Hungary’s Sziget Festival is once again nominated for the best major festival award, having taken home the prize for line-up of the year at last year’s EFAs. It contends for the top spot with Open’er Festival, Hellfest, Pinkpop and Roskilde Festival, among others. CAA agent and 2018 Music Industry Trusts (MITs) award winner Emma Banks appears among the nominees vying for success in the agent of the year category.

The European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP) returns to ESNS following another record-breaking year spreading and promoting the newest and best in European music. Festival shows played through the programme numbered 457 last summer. The programme’s 2018 winner, Superorganism, appears alongside fellow ETEP hits Zeal & Ardor and Sigrid on EFA’s newcomer of the year nominee list.

A change to proceedings sees the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards replace the long-running Europe Border Breaker Awards. The inaugural awards look to support new acts, offering winners the chance to play live at ESNS, and providing them with tailor-made training programmes, as well as financial help. British artists Bishop Briggs and Pale Waves find themselves among the triumphant 12 winners revealed in November.

 


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Music Moves Europe Talent Awards winners revealed

The first winners of the new Music Moves Europe Talent Awards, presented at Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) in January, have been revealed.

Following the announcement of the 24 nominees at Reeperbahn Festival in September, an international jury have selected 12 winners – two apiece in six genre-based categories.

The winners are:

Pop: Bishop Briggs (UK) and Lxandra (FI)
Rock: Pale Waves (UK) and Pip Blom (NL)
Electronic: Smerz (NO) Stelartronic (AT)
R&B/urban: Rosalía (ES) and Aya Nakamura (FR)
Hip hop/rap: Blackwave (BE), Reykjavíkurdætur (IS)
Singer-songwriter: Avec (AT) and Albin Lee Meldau (SE)

The Music Moves Europe Talent Awards, part of the Music Moves Europe initiative, were announced in August as a replacement for the long-running European Border Breakers Awards (EBBAs). They are co-funded by the Creative Europe programme of the European Commission, with the additional support of the Municipality of Groningen, Province of Groningen and the Dutch Ministry of Education, Culture and Science.

The winners were selected by a jury comprising Huw Stephens (presenter, BBC Radio 1), Julia Gudzent (festival programmer, Melt!), Katia Giampaolo (CEO, Estragon Club Italy), Kristian Kostov (winner of the EBBA public choice award 2018) and Wilbert Mutsaers (head of content, Spotify Benelux).

The awards – plus an additional prize, the public choice award, voted for online by the general public – will be awarded at ESNS in Groningen, Netherlands, on 16 January 2019.

 


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ESNS adds 19 acts from 2019 focus countries

Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) has expanded the line-up for its 2019 edition with 19 acts from the Czech Republic and Slovakia, the two focus countries of ESNS 2019.

Alongside the previously announced Hellwana (CZ) and Isama Zing (SK), ten more acts from the Czech Republic, and nine from Slovakia, will showcase in Groningen in January.

From the Czech Republic, they are: Bohemian Cristal Instrument, Circus Brothers, Floex and Tom Hodge, Lazer Viking, Lenny, Manon Meurt, Mydy Rabycad, Pipes and Pints, Thom Artway and Zabelov Group.

Autumnist, B-complex, Katarína Máliková and Ensemble, Möbius, Nvmeri, Our Stories, the Ills, Thisnis and Tittingur will represent Slovakia.

“We are keen to showcase the unique, high-quality music from these two neighbours”

“We are keen to showcase the unique, high-quality music from these two neighbours,” says ESNS booker Robert Meijerink. “Although two of the youngest countries in Europe, they both have diverse and growing music scenes, a great history and lots of amazing music to be discovered.”

ESNS returns to Groningen in the Netherlands from 16 to 19 January 2019, and will feature showcases from around 350 emerging artists. More than 4,000 industry delegates attended Eurosonic Noorderslag 2018, which saw performances from 300 European acts, including 22 from focus country Denmark.

A limited number of late-rate tickets are still available from the Eurosonic conference website.

 


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Ticketmaster’s Universe to launch in the Netherlands

Ticketmaster-owned self-service ticketing platform Universe will be introduced to the Dutch market early next year.

Canadian-born Universe (formerly Uniiverse) was acquired by Live Nation/Ticketmaster in 2015, and opened its first European office, in London, the following year.

It will make its Dutch debut with conference/showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), which returns to Groningen with focus countries Slovakia and the Czech Republic from 16 to 19 January 2019.

ESNS managing director Dago Houben comments: “Ticketmaster has been providing ticketing for for Eurosonic Noorderslag for decades. With the switch to Universe, it will be possible to combine the registrations for the industry delegates with tickets for the festival visitors in one database and CRM.

“We taking an enormous step forward in service for both the visitors to the conference and to the festivalgoers.”

 


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