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ESNS shares Steve Strange’s last interview

Steve Strange’s last interview before his tragic passing has been released today, courtesy of Chugg Entertainment, X-ray and Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS).

The renowned booking agent and X-ray co-founder took part in a 45-minute keynote interview – pre-recorded remotely due to the pandemic – interviewed by veteran Australian promoter Michael Chugg in January this year.

According to the Chugg Entertainment founder who went on to co-manage Australian act Sheppard, he and Strange met in the 80s and became “best mates”.

During the interview, Chugg quizzes Strange on weathering the pandemic, reimagining businesses models, and how he came to represent Eminem, Coldplay and Queens of the Stone Age from the beginning of their careers.

Read more about Steve Strange’s remarkable life and career in this IQ feature, which marked his 50th birthday.

ESNS will return to Groningen between 19–22 January 2022. For more information, visit esns.nl.


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ESNS announces Spain focus for 2022

Spain will be the focus country for Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) 2022, the Dutch conference and showcase event has announced.

Eurosonic typically puts the spotlight on a single European nation each year (Switzerland was the focus country in 2020) but opted instead to focus on Europe as a whole for this year’s virtual edition, which took place in January. In partnership with Live Nation Madrid and export initiative the Spanish Wave, ESNS 2022 will highlight the diversity of musical talent in Spain.

César Andión of the Spanish Wave/Live Nation says: “We are thrilled to bring to ESNS 2022 a great roster of panels and artists that will showcase the strength, quality and diversity of the Spanish music industry and future stars. For years Spain has had artists performing in Groningen, and professionals attending the conference, so it was about time that we became the focus country to show how professional, large and diverse Spain is for touring, releasing music and trade.

“We look forward to getting started on bringing an eclectic selection of new music to Groningen”

“The Spanish focus will join forces and work together with labels, promoters, media, festivals, artists and private and public agencies to make this special spotlight a success in business, networking and talent. The Spanish Wave showcase will bring a wide palette of young, emerging and talented acts from all over Spain to show what fresh, alive and exportable artists we have in our country. Thanks to ESNS for giving us the support and opportunity to do so.”

“The Spanish music scene has a lot to offer for the international market,” comments Robert Meijerink. “While there is a growing interest in music in the Spanish language in Europe and beyond, we’d like to focus on all its different regions and lively scenes, from emerging electronic acts to the new wave of indie bands hailing from the big cities, the islands and everything in between. Together with the Spanish Wave and Live Nation Madrid and their partners, we look forward to getting started on bringing an eclectic selection of new music to Groningen.”

Eurosonic Noorderslag 2022 takes place in Groningen, Netherlands, from 19 to 22 January. Artist applications open on 1 May; registration for delegates will open later this year. To pre-register, sign up here.

 


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All-digital ESNS 2021 attracts 4,000 visitors

The first edition of Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) to be held entirely online “exceeded all expectations”, say organisers, welcoming nearly 4,000 people from 124 countries to its digital conference and festival platforms.

ESNS 2021 – originally announced as a hybrid event, retaining an in-person component in Groningen, but later forced fully online – took place from 13–16 January, marking  the 35th edition of the Dutch conference and showcase festival.

“We are truly overwhelmed by the positive feedback, with many saying a new standard has been set, which is amazing,” says Robert Meijerink, ESNS’s head of programme, “and the digital edition has exceeded our wildest expectations.

“The ESNS platform is focused on new emerging acts from Europe, and to bring together music professionals from all corners of the world to discuss the current and future of the music sector and its industry. Thanks to NPO 3FM and members of the EBU, ESNS was able to reach an even bigger audience in Europe and beyond. We really hope we can organise a physical edition in 2022 and be together once again, but we will also expand our online ventures next year.”

“We really hope we can organise a physical edition in 2022 and be together once again”

Built in partnership with NPO 3FM, the festival platform hosted live sets from 189 acts across 36 European countries, broadcast daily on four channels. All ESNS showcases, many of which saw Dutch acts performing at (empty) venues in Groningen, are still available to watch back at 3fm.nl/esns.

The conference’s 66 panels, meanwhile, featured 274 speakers, with the most viewed including ‘Successful Covid festival formats’, ‘Streaming is here to stay!’ and ‘Platform workshops with Bandcamp & Spotify’. Keynote interviews included Wendy Ong (a manager of Dua Lipa), Scott Cohen (Warner Music) and Neil Warnock (UTA).

On Friday 15 January, the winners of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards 2021 were revealed on the ESNS digital platform and the NITE Hotel, presented by Melanie C. The eight winners are Inhaler (IE), Julia Bardo (IT), Lous and the Yakuza (BE), Melenas (ES), Rimon (NL), Sassy 009 (NO), Vildá (FI) and Alyona Alyona (UA), with Alyona also winning the Public Choice Award 2021. This was publicly announced by the European commissioner for culture, Mariya Gabriel.

Eurosonic Noorderslag will return next year, with ESNS 2022 taking place 19–22 January 2022 – “preferably as a physical edition” in Groningen, the Netherlands, say organisers.

 


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Neil Warnock: “It’s time to get entrepreneurial”

UTA’s global head of touring, Neil Warnock, has predicted that the demand for live entertainment when the threat of Covid-19 starts to subside “will be like opening a floodgate”, but says the industry needs to be entrepreneurial about how concerts can return.

“People will definitely want to be entertained, they will want to go and see some music and I think [live entertainment] is going to have a boom time,” Warnock told ILMC head Greg Parmley during his Eurosonic Noorderslag keynote ‘What is the Future of Live?’.

“But if we can’t go and see music the way that we hope to see it, maybe we can provide it in a different way? Let’s be entrepreneurial and think about how we can actually bring everybody together. We’ve got an audience and we’ve got artists so how we are going to actually make it work in a safe environment, in a way that maybe we weren’t looking at before?” he said.

However, the UTA chief is optimistic that the pandemic – and the subsequent shakeup in the agency landscape – has given the industry the fresh sense of entrepreneurship that is needed.

“We’re seeing seeing some very interesting developments, as we always do in these circumstances, where agents have left the major agencies to set up their own shop and, to me, that’s very exciting because I think [those agents] are the new entrepreneurs of the future,” he said.

“I think what’s going to come out of this is very refreshing because it’s shaken up the industry. It’s all made us think of what we’re going to do and I think in the next couple of years we’re going to see some exciting stuff happening. I think the strong will get stronger, the entrepreneurs will make money, and the people we lose, we should probably have lost anyway.”

“Nationally, we should be looking at our own artists that don’t have to leave the country and how best we utilise their time”

Warnock said that one way agents could be enterprising in the current climate is to come up with innovative ways to utilise and develop their domestic roster, until international touring can properly resume.

“Nationally, we should be looking at our own artists that don’t have to leave the country and how best we utilise their time and how best we put bills and events together within the UK. And so we’re providing entertainment with local talent as much as we can and developing or redeveloping some of the talent that maybe hasn’t been out to a number of cities or towns in many years.

“For example, if you have an artist that has done 10 arenas, there’s nothing stopping them doing 50 theatres. Also, there’s a lot of smaller open-air events that one could look at and say ‘how can we successfully promote that?’. I think it’s just about entrepreneurship and thinking on the ground about how best we’re going to do this.”

While Warnock says the return of European touring will rely on both the safety and economic viability of shows, he’s hopeful about organising tours in Australasia in the not-too-distant future, where many countries have got the virus under control and are embracing a return to live.

“I can see artists flying independently and doing a Japanese tour, once they’ve got the situation under control, and maybe playing Singapore and Hong Kong if they are safe. Same, if Australia and New Zealand begin to open up, but they can be toured seperately or South America,” he said.

“Nationally, we should be looking at our own artists that don’t have to leave the country and how best we utilise their time”

As for Brexit, Warnock believes that the UK will find a practical solution for touring because it has to, but until then “we become third country status”.

“If you look at that as a definition of where the UK is in the world, that then gives you an idea of what can happen in terms of work permits, and how we actually work with our partner countries across across Europe. So we’ll be treated in the same way as the US, or Australia or Canada going into Europe.”

During the keynote, Warnock also addressed the snowballing popularity of livestreaming and says he believes it’s going to be a component of the live experience going forward.

“I don’t see it going away. Some are saying if you’ve got an artist that can generally sell 15,000–20,000 tickets in London, why not put them in the Albert Hall and sell 5,000 concert tickets and 15,000 livestream tickets,” he said.

“My view is, fine, I would much rather keep the live component going and play to all of those 20,000 people but I think this is going to depend on the artist and what they want to do with their time and their lives.

“Not every streaming show has been an unbelievable success, the big ones where there’s been good investment have proved to do well. But even then, it’s not guaranteed that a streaming show is going to do which is the same with live.”

Eurosonic Noorderslag concludes today.

 


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Mental health of industry pros exposed in new book

Mental health behind the scenes of the live music, festival and event industry has been documented in a new book titled, Stay Sound & Check Yourself.

The book derives from a series of interviews conducted by business insider Holger Jan Schmidt and psychologist Prof. Dr Katja Ehrenberg, exploring the psychological effects of working in ‘an industry that never sleeps’.

The book assembles 15 interviewees that represent the diversity of the European live music industry  – from a 23-year-old Belgian-born PR to a 60-year-old scene veteran from Switzerland – to find out how working in an industry that has such demanding yet fulfilling working conditions impacts their mental health.

Both the individual interviews and the group discussions found that all the professionals share similar experiences of what they find deeply rewarding and what they find stressful in their work. Almost all of them know mental crises, depression or anxieties.

“For every Avicii or Keith Flint, there are a thousand promoters or cable guys who have a similar problem”

As one interviewee put it: “For every Avicii or Keith Flint, there are a thousand promoters or cable guys who have a similar problem.” And another said: “The passion and the burnout go hand in hand.”

Featuring interviews conducted pre-pandemic and mid-pandemic, the book also reports on the unprecedented challenges that have arisen in the past year and gives interviewees the opportunity to reflect on risks and opportunities presented by the pandemic.

The interviews are framed by professional background information on stress and mental health at work and effective suggestions for prevention and intervention, as well as links to further free resources on the issue.

Schmidt and Ehrenberg will mark the release of the publication at Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) on 14 January alongside Chris Kemp (Momconsultancy), Fruzina Szep (Goodlive) and Lina Urginovska (Password Productions).

Stay Sound & Check Yourself can be ordered from local book shops around Europe and online retailers. All author profits from book sales will be reinvested to projects promoting the visibility of the mental health issue and building prevention and intervention tools.

 


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ESNS announces keynote with Dua Lipa’s manager

Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) has announced a keynote interview with Wendy Ong, Dua Lipa’s manager and US president of Tap Music and Tap Records.

Ong will be in conversation with artist manager and board member of Music Managers Forum (MMF) Netherlands, Lijne Kreupeling, discussing the evolving profession of modern artist management.

As president of Tap Management and Tap Records US, Ong oversees all US-related management and label activities for a diverse roster of artists including Lana Del Rey, Dua Lipa, Ellie Goulding, Hailee Steinfeld, and more.

The US music manager and executive is the latest addition for the 35th edition of the Groningen-based festival, which will take place digitally between 13 to 16 January.

The digital edition will consist of Eurosonic, the showcase festival for emerging European talent; an online edition of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards ceremony; the celebration of native talent, Noorderslag; and this year’s conference, titled Road to Recovery.

Ong oversees all US-related management and label activities for artists including Lana Del Rey, Ellie Goulding and Hailee Steinfeld

Highlights of the Road to Recovery programme include:

Other confirmed speakers for the conference include: Annabella Coldrick (Music Managers Forum), Beverley Whitrick (Music Venues Trust), Claire O’Neill (A Greener Festival), Eric van Eerdenburg (Lowlands/MOJO), Fruzsina Szep (Goodlive), Hannah Shgbola (Echo Location), Helen Sildna (Tallinn Music Week), Helen Smith (Impala), Henrick Bondo (Roskilde Festival), Jess Partridge (Face-value European Alliance for Ticketing), Keith Harris (Keith Harris Music Ltd), Michal Kascak (Pohoda Festival). See the full conference programme here.

Tickets for Eurosonic Noorderslag 2021 are available at a discounted price of €50, which includes access to the digital environment with live streams, on-demand panels, keynotes, sessions and showcases, access to a networking platform and database. The showcase part of the festival will be completely free.

 


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Eurosonic Noorderslag to go fully digital for 2021

Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) will now go ahead in a digital-only format next January as hopes for a part-virtual, part-physical format have been dashed by the current circumstances.

Organisers say that given the current situation and government guidelines (which ask residents to stay at home under the current lockdown), organising a physical edition is no longer feasible.

The 35th edition of the Groningen-based festival will take place between 13 to 16 January, as originally scheduled, but now on a digital platform.

Robert Meijerink, ESNS head of programme says: “Although we are sad that the acts, audience and music professionals cannot meet each other live in Groningen we think that’s it’s very important in these challenging times, to bring the people of the live music sector, artists, venues and festivals and media together during the digital edition of the ESNS and as the key exchange for emerging European music talent we will work hard to make sure we continue to provide that platform to new artists.”

“It’s very important in these challenging times to bring the people of the live music sector together”

The event’s digital edition will consist of Eurosonic, the showcase festival for emerging European talent; an online edition of the Music Moves Europe Talent Awards ceremony; the celebration of native talent, Noorderslag; and this year’s conference, titled Road to Recovery.

“January 2021 is the perfect time to look ahead and discuss strategies around the re-opening of the live music scene as we know it and to evaluate where we are on medication, vaccine, and fast testing. Looking at the impact on mental health within the industry and finding solutions to sustainability will also be a focus as well as lobbying members of the European Parliament for support of the sector.”

Speakers confirmed for the upcoming edition include Paradigm agents Tom Windish and Mike Malak, Warner Music’s Scott Cohen, Raphaella Lima (EA Games) on music in games, and A Greener Festival’s Claire O’Neil talking about the importance of sustainability.

Tickets for Eurosonic Noorderslag 2021 are available at a substantial discount of €50, which includes access to the digital environment with live streams, on-demand panels, keynotes, sessions and showcases, access to a networking platform and database.

 


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ESNS 2021 to go ahead in hybrid format

Dutch conference and showcase festival Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS) will go ahead in a part-virtual, part-physical format next January.

Taking place in Groningen from 13 to 16 January, the in-person aspect of ESNS 2021 – the event’s 35th edition – will be “widely supported in a digital form”, including both the conference programming and showcases, say organisers.

All parts of the programme will be “organised with the safety of visitors, delegates and artists as the highest priority”, they add.

Eurosonic creative director Robert Meijerink comments: “There’s all the more reason to get together again in Groningen in January 2021 and to review and anticipate the future. It is precisely these uncertain times that call for an opportunity to open the dialogue, to support and inspire, to learn from each other and, ultimately, to regain trust for hopeful times ahead.

“Last but not least, ESNS wants to organise an event that does justice to its mission: stimulating and promoting the circulation of new European music. The necessity has never been so great.”

“There’s all the more reason to get together again in Groningen in January 2021”

ESNS 2021 will be preceded by European Music Week, a new digital platform showcasing the best new European music. Whereas ESNS has previous chosen focus countries, the 2021 event will focus on Europe as a whole.

“The music sector has been hit hard. But we feel strengthened by the hundreds of music professionals from home and abroad who have still bought a registration for ESNS 2021 in recent months, despite the restrictions imposed by the pandemic,” says ESNS director Dago Houben. “We feel that as a call from the sector”

Tickets for Eurosonic Noorderslag 2021 will go on sale “as soon as possible”, say organisers, and will available at a substantial discount compared to previous years: €195 for a full conference ticket, or €50 for digital only.

“[W]e receive tremendous support from a large number of partners, not to mention the authorities who indirectly supported us to let us do what we are good at: stimulate the circulation of European music. This extra support gives us the opportunity to drastically reduce the price of our event to make it as accessible as possible for everyone,” continues Houben.

“We are developing an accessible digital edition for people who are not yet allowed, or who are otherwise not able, to travel.”

 


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