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Slovenia hosts Europe’s biggest post-pandemic festival

Smile Nation Slovenia, the largest music festival in continental Europe since the coronavirus pandemic began, took place with 5,000 fans in Ljubljana on Thursday 24 June.

Held at the city’s Ilirija sports stadium, the festival, promoted by Celje-based Smile Festival, featured performances from popular international DJs, including Australia’s Nervo and Dutch producer Quintino, and local talent such as Minless and Tim Urbanya. The festival follows last year’s seated, socially distanced event with 500 people each night over three days.

A total of 5,000 people attended the one-day Smile Nation Slovenia 2021, which took place under so-called PCT conditions (pogojev PCT), referring to the Slovenian term for Covid-status certification. All attendees had to provide proof of either vaccination against Covid-19, immunity to the disease, or a negative Covid-19 test to gain entry.

Organisers advised non-vaccinated/immune guests to get tested the day beforehand in their hometowns, though a pre-event testing point was set up in Ljubljana’s Tivoli Park for those unable to.

Other hygiene measures in place at the festival included card-only payments and hand sanitising points, while face masks were recommended but not required.

“We are proud that in these unpredictable times, we managed to undertake an event of this magnitude”

According to local media, Smile Nation Slovenia is the largest festival of the Covid-19 era in the European Union. Recent events in the UK, including Sefton Park Pilot and Download Pilot, were the same size or bigger, although they were held under clinically controlled test-event conditions.

“From the bottom of our hearts, we thank visitors, performers, partners, sponsors and everyone else who contributed to this unique spectacle,” say organisers in a statement. “We are proud that in these unpredictable times, we managed to undertake an event of this magnitude and make history as one of the first major ’normal’ festivals of the past two years.

“An electric atmosphere, positive energy, lots of good fun and great music: this was Smile Nation Slovenia 2021.”

Other ‘normal’ festivals going ahead this summer include Exit Festival in Serbia, Pukkelpop in Belgium, Mysteryland in the Netherlands and a handful of UK events, pending the removal of restrictions on 19 July.

 


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EEnlarge Europe launches with SOS campaign

A new, partially EU-funded association of grassroots music venues, EEnlarge Europe, has launched in eastern Europe with its first five members.

EEnlarge Europe, described as both a “community of venues” and an “educational project for the grassroots scene”, aims to bring together venues in the region to support each other and share knowledge and best practice.

At launch, the association comprises Channel Zero (270-cap.) in Ljubljana, Slovenia; Nappali (200-cap.) in Pécs, Hungary; Moszkva Kávézó (300-cap.) in Oradea, Romania; Kvaka 22 (250-cap.) in Belgrade, Serbia; and Zentropia in Senta, Serbia, with support from Budapest-based journalist and artist manager Eszter Décsy (Now Books & Music).

EEnlarge Europe’s first campaign, ‘SOS: Save Our Sources’, aims to raise awareness of the plight of grassroots music venues, which it says are in urgent need of more financial help and to be allowed to reopen as soon as possible.

we strongly hope that the decision-makers will finally realise they need to act now, before it is too late,”

Ana-Marija Cupin from the Serbian band Repetitor, one of several artists backing the campaign, says: “All the legendary gigs have happened in a small venue. A warm and relaxed atmosphere […] is something you do not experience in the arena.”

“I’m still crazy for club gigs – that’s where we started everything from,” says Hungary’s ‘Apey’ András Áron (Lazarvs, Apey, Trillion). “It’s really good to keep those gigs in mind. If these places disappear, I can’t even imagine how hard that would be for an emerging band to start – not that it was ever easy.

To spread the world about SOS, EEnlarge Europe has asked local musicians describe in their own words what small venues mean to them, both personally and professionally. Their responses can be found on EEnlarge Europe’s Facebook page.

“By this, we strongly hope that the decision-makers will finally realise they need to act now, before it is too late,” says the association.

 


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Viberate adds CTS Eventim to ticket sales partners

Blockchain-based live music marketplace Viberate has increased the number of tickets on sale through its platform to 70,000 by partnering with CTS Eventim.

Since raising more than US$10m in an initial coin offering (ICO) last August, the Slovenia-based company, which aims to “map the global live music ecosystem” using blockchain technology, has grown its database of musicians, venues, booking agencies and promoters by 270%, and had its VIB tokens listed on 14 cryptocurrency exchanges. It also already has ticket distribution agreements in place with Ticketmaster, Eventbrite and Skiddle.

Oliver Fraemke, senior vice-president of international business development at CTS Eventim, says: “As Europe’s leading ticketing company, generating reach on the web is obviously among our core competencies. Teaming up with an exciting start-up like Viberate adds yet another powerful channel to our ever-increasing number of affiliate outlets.

“Teaming up with an exciting start-up like Viberate adds yet another powerful channel to our ever-increasing number of affiliate outlets”

“Our cooperation will help us draw a much sought-for and highly-attractive customer group to our own Eventim web shops, to the benefit of music fans and artists alike.”

According to the STA news agency, the partnership with the German company will also include its local operations, including Slovenia’s Eventim.si.

“Getting the recognition from the big players in the industry is a huge reward for our work so far,” adds Vasja Veber, Viberate’s COO. “Our team is fully devoted to developing a completely new digital playground for music enthusiasts, industry professionals and crypto fans that will make a huge impact on the industry.”

 


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Imogen Heap partners with Viberate

Two of the earliest adopters of the blockchain in music, Grammy-winning artist Imogen Heap and live music marketplace Viberate, have announced their collaboration.

Heap will serve in an advisory role at Viberate – whose platform is powered by a cryptocurrency, Viberate token (VIB) – to help “guide us towards a second-to-none service for the live music segment that truly works for the music-maker”, reads a statement from the Ljubljana-based company.

Viberate’s mission is to use blockchain technology to “map the global live music ecosystem by building a database of profiles for musicians, venues, agencies and event organisers”. It closed its initial coin offering (ICO) of 120 million VIB tokens, announced last August, in under five minutes, raising more than US$10m.

|Imogen is not only … an inspiration to many of today’s superstars, she is also widely known for getting on the blockchain train before it was cool”

Heap, whose Mycelia Creative Passports project aims to create an industry standard digital identity for creators, says: “Blockchain has become the long overdue catalyst for the music industry to update its policy and business models toward music-makers and to provide quicker and seamless experiences for anyone involved in creating or interacting with music.”

Commenting on her partnership with Viberate, she adds: “Anything that involves music-makers being independent and having space where they can reach out to anybody who wants to make business directly with them is a really positive thing.”

“Imogen is not only one of the best artists out there and an inspiration to many of today’s superstars, she is also widely known for getting on the blockchain train before it was cool,” comments Vasja Veber, Viberate co-founder and COO. “We respect that and that is why we are so excited to have her on board.”

 


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Viberate, live music cryptocurrency, prepping ICO

Viberate – a blockchain-based ‘live music marketplace’ that aims to “do for music what Airbnb did for tourism” – is gearing up for an initial coin offering (ICO) of US$12 million worth of Vibes, the first cryptocurrency aimed specifically at the live music industry.

The ‘crowdsale’ of 200m Vibe tokens, which have a base price of $0.10, runs from from 5 September to 4 October, and follows more than $1m worth of investment in the Ljubljana-based start-up since April 2016.

“The main difference” between Viberate and other music-focused cryptocurrencies, says co-founder and COO Vasja Veber, “is that those services operate in the recorded music segment, whereas Viberate focuses on the live segment.

“We are not interested in the world of recorded music, royalties and copyright. It’s an interesting field and in definite need for help, and we hope that our fellow founders in Musiconomi, Voise, Opus and others will give the massive recorded music market a much needed kick in the butt and let musicians make money again by producing good music.

“[But w]hat we are interested at is giving musicians an opportunity to charge for their gigs in cryptocurrencies. We want to do for music what Airbnb did for tourism.”

“There is a clear need for an entity that would effectively and safely represent all those who don’t have a privilege of an agent”

In addition to allowing touring musicians to be paid in Vibes, Viberate – as detailed in its white paper – aims to offer artists, promoters and agents a blockchain-based alternative to what it calls a “heavily centralised” industry dominated by “a few major talent agencies”.

“Musicians need agents in order to land enough gigs to make a living, and most of the musicians don’t stand a chance of getting spotted,” it reads. “Only a fraction of a percent of all the world’s musicians have proper representation and are lucky enough to have music as their primary source of income. The rest are left on their own, struggling with exposure in a heavily saturated market, dealing with marketing, sales, networking, legal, taxation and debt collection issues instead of focusing on the creative part of the music business. […]

“There is a clear need for an entity that would effectively and safely represent all those who don’t have a privilege of an agent. Blockchain technology offers the best tools for this task.”

For event organisers, the platform gives promoters a helping hand in staying “on top of trends in live music” and provides them with a constantly evolving roster – which may also be supplied by booking agencies – of “interesting musicians”.

“A good event organiser in a busy city can organise up to three or four events weekly with several musicians on the line-up. Such frequency soon leads to the organiser not knowing who to book next. An event organiser’s product is a ticket, and their primary goal is to sell as many tickets as possible. To do this they need a good programme and a good ticket sales channel.”

“80% of all musicians in the world are unsigned … We want to be their agent, and we’ll offer them the tools they need to become successful performers”

In both scenarios, says Viberate, the solution is a decentralised, blockchain-based database of artists, promoters, agencies and venues that allows each party to communicate with, and book, the others at will, “regardless of genre, country, fame level or gig history”.

Commenting on the upcoming ICO, Veber tells Cointelegraph: “We don’t expect the big guys to jump on the bandwagon right away. But they were never our target group anyway, and we don’t expect Justin Bieber or Coldplay to be ready to accept Bitcoins or Vibes in exchange for their services.

“Our main target group has always been the underdogs: Local musicians, low-profile garage bands, who need a place to offer their performances to promoters and clubs. And those are usually younger people, millennials, who are quite fond of cryptocurrencies. They are our true ambassadors and there’s a lot of them. We estimate that around 80% of all musicians in the world are unsigned, meaning they don’t have an agent to represent them.

“Now we want to be their agent, and we’ll offer them all the tools they need to become successful performers and make a living by doing what they love.”

 


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