The vibrant music scene of the Balkans
Prepare to have your expectations shattered and your creative senses tingling because the Balkans are about to unleash their full artistic potential! Yes, you heard it right. The region that brought you stunning landscapes, rich cultural heritage, and a healthy dose of self-irony is now making waves in the music and artistic world.
Picture this: major record labels and big promoters, who once thought the Balkans were just a charming vacation spot, are now scrambling to establish their presence in this vibrant region. Why? Because they’ve finally realised that hidden within the Balkans is a goldmine of untapped opportunities and unbridled creativity.
Let’s address the elephant in the room. We all know that certain countries have faced their fair share of challenges. Russia, with its restrictive regulations, has put a damper on the music industry’s growth. And Ukraine, although we have high hopes for its comeback, has been facing obstacles in the live music sector. But fear not! The spotlight has shifted to the Balkans, and it’s ready to shine brightly like never before.
The Balkans, with its rich tapestry of cultures and an eclectic music scene, is a breeding ground for innovation and collaboration. It’s where traditional folk music dances with contemporary genres like pop, rock, and electronic music. Artists, producers, and industry professionals are flocking to the region, recognising the wealth of talent and the potential for groundbreaking cross-genre projects.
Now, let’s talk about why the Balkans are the place to be for music and artistic advancements:
The Balkans, with its growing economy and increasing disposable incomes, is the perfect breeding ground for a thriving music industry
Untapped Market Potential:
Imagine a market ready to embrace music and entertainment with open arms. The Balkans, with its growing economy and increasing disposable incomes, is the perfect breeding ground for a thriving music industry. Artists and music businesses have the opportunity to captivate a fresh audience, build a loyal fan base, and establish a strong presence in a market hungry for new sounds.
Cultural Diversity and Fusion:
Prepare to be dazzled by a diverse melting pot of cultures, traditions, and musical genres. The Balkans offer a vibrant tapestry of artistic expressions that range from traditional folk to cutting-edge electronic beats. By tapping into this cultural diversity, music businesses can create unique and captivating projects that resonate with a global audience. Collaborations with local artists will result in mind-bending cross-genre experiments that push boundaries and ignite imaginations.
Cost-Effective Touring and Production:
Forget about draining your bank account on extravagant tours. In the Balkans, touring becomes a cost-effective affair. The region’s smaller size and proximity between countries make it a breeze to navigate and perform in multiple markets without breaking the bank. And let’s not forget about production costs. The Balkans offer a fertile ground for creating and recording music without draining your creative budget. It’s a win-win situation for artists and music businesses alike.
Networking and Collaboration:
In the Balkans, the music community feels like one big, supportive family. The close-knit environment allows for meaningful connections and collaborations to flourish. From local festivals and industry conferences to impromptu jam sessions in cozy cafés, the opportunities for networking are endless. You’ll meet like-minded individuals who share your passion and vision, opening doors to collaborations that will take your artistic endeavors to new heights.
Filming and Creative Resources:
Lights, camera, action! The Balkans are not only a playground for musicians but also a paradise for filmmakers and creative professionals. Imagine picturesque landscapes, rich historical heritage, and cost-effective production options. It’s no wonder that blockbusters like 300 and music videos for artists like Ellie Goulding and Dua Lipa have embraced the Balkans as their backdrop. The region’s creative talent is also booming, with designers, photographers, videographers, and writers offering high-quality services at competitive prices. Outsourcing creative work to the Balkans is a smart move that guarantees exceptional results without breaking the bank.
The Balkans serve as a gateway to emerging markets, acting as a bridge between Central and Eastern Europe
Games and Technology:
Get ready for a gaming and tech revolution in the Balkans! The region boasts a talented workforce skilled in software development, design, animation, and more. With universities offering specialised programs tailored to the gaming and tech sectors, the Balkans are producing a pool of skilled professionals ready to innovate and create. The cost advantage of operating game development studios and tech companies in the region allows for investment in research and development, leading to high-quality products that are capturing the attention of the global market. Governments and local authorities are supporting this growth, providing funding, infrastructure, and incentives to nurture startups and foster collaboration. Brace yourselves for a wave of gaming and technological innovation from the Balkans.
Already, the region has showcased its prowess with standout games that have captured the hearts of gamers worldwide. Dive into the intense action and humour of the “Serious Sam” series developed by Croteam in Croatia. Embark on epic adventures in the long-standing MMORPG “RuneScape” with a dedicated development team in Serbia. Master the art of stealth and strategy in the critically acclaimed “Shadow Tactics: Blades of the Shogun” from Bulgaria’s Mimimi Games. And explore the human impact of war in the gripping survival game “This War of Mine,” with contributions from Bosnia and Herzegovina’s 11 bit studios.
But it’s not just about games. The Balkans also excel in providing top-notch IT services and software development, serving clients around the globe. From software development to cybersecurity, the region’s thriving industry is making its mark in the tech world.
Gateway to Emerging Markets:
The Balkans serve as a gateway to emerging markets, acting as a bridge between Central and Eastern Europe. Artists and music businesses who establish themselves in the Balkans gain access to a broader network and exciting opportunities for cross-cultural collaborations. Proximity to Turkey and the Middle East adds a sprinkle of spice to the mix, allowing for exploration of new markets and exposure to diverse audiences.
Now, the cherry on top of this artistic feast: the SoAlive Music Conference. This event is your gateway to the vibrant music scenes of the Balkans. From 19-21 October, the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, Bulgaria, will be buzzing with industry professionals, artists, and music enthusiasts, all eager to connect, share knowledge, and seize business opportunities. Whether you’re an established player in the industry or a rising talent, the SoAlive Music Conference is your ticket to expanding your horizons and staying ahead of the curve.
Secure your spot now and join us as we celebrate the creative powerhouse that is the Balkans. It’s time to unleash your full potential, network with like-minded individuals, and embark on a thrilling journey of artistic growth and innovation.
Get ready for the Balkans to shake up the music and artistic world. The stage is set, the spotlight is on, and the world is waiting for you to make your mark.
See you at the SoAlive Music Conference: 19-21 October, Sofia, Bulgaria! Click here to sign up to this year’s event.
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Exit 2.0: back to the future of the Balkans’ biggest festival
Exit Festival, a live music event spawned from the desire for peace and freedom in the Balkans, is turning twenty years old this year, with a brand new set of social aims appearing at the top of its agenda.
Founded by Dusan Kovačević, Ivan Milivojev, Bojan Boskovic and Milos Ignjatovic in 2000, the first edition of Exit Festival took place in University Park in the Serbian city of Novi Sad, with the objective of connecting like-minded Balkan people and encouraging political engagement among the youth.
“Exit was the first mass gathering of young people from former Yugoslavian countries after the Balkans War [which took place from 1991-1999],” Sagor Mešković, the festival’s chief communications officer, explains to IQ. “It started off as a youth activism movement for peace in Serbia and the Balkans.”
“After ten years of war and isolation in the region, the first edition of the festival was characterised by a feeling that normal life was back again,” adds Exit co-founder Kovačević. “Emotions were so high, that most of the artists said that they played the best concert of their tour , or even their whole career, at the event.”
Twenty years on, Exit Festival has just enjoyed its biggest year yet, welcoming 200,000 fans to its permanent site at Novi Sad’s Petrovaradin Fortress for four days of performances from the likes of the Cure, Carl Cox, Amelie Lens, the Chainsmokers and Greta van Fleet.
“After ten years of war and isolation in the region, the first edition of the festival was characterised by a feeling that normal life was back again”
Adding to its flagship event, the Exit team have now developed an extended festival network, providing “the biggest cultural bridge between the countries of the former Yugoslavia” in the form of No Sleep Festival in Serbia, Sea Star in Croatia, Revolution Festival in Romania and Sea Dance Festival in Montenegro.
This unique history and ethos is the driving force behind the desire for Exit to remain independent.
“Exit didn’t start for profit,” states Kovačević. “I respect the investment funds that are taking over festivals – they are still doing great shows and people are having fun – but we have decided to stay independent because we know the festival world needs something like this.”
With so much history behind them, the twentieth anniversary of Exit Festival is “important on so many levels, not just for us, but for the whole region,” says Kovačević.
Exit 2.0, as the anniversary event is dubbed, will look to the future as well as celebrating of the past, a fact reflected in the very programming of the festival. “We are going to bring back some of the acts that marked our history and mix them together with those who are making an impact in this day and age,” states Kovačević.
With over 20 stages and even more genres of music, Exit’s line-ups are broad and diverse, frequently seeing pop stars and leading electronic acts headlining alongside rock, and even metal, bands. A dedicated Latin stage has been present at Exit since day one, which now seems “almost prophetic”, given the global Latin music rise we see today.
“I respect the investment funds that are taking over festivals, but we have decided to stay independent because we know the festival world needs something like this”
Although line-ups are always eclectic, the billing never tends towards the generic due to the team’s habit of booking based on “gut feeling”, in addition to using data, metrics and ticket sales figures. “The irrational part of us is the one that makes a good line-up,” states Mešković. On a more personal level, the team also strive to work with the artists “who have a similar ethos to ours.”
For Exit, it is vital to “be one with the audience”, making sure every decision is guided by the wants and needs of the fan. To this end, the festival aims to keep tickets affordable, especially for the local audience. “We never want to lose our local fans,” says Kovačević, “because if we did, we would lose our soul.”
In addition to its core audience of locals, Exit’s fan base has become more and more international over the years. Fans travel to Serbia from elsewhere in Europe, as well as from Asia, America and Australia to attend the event.
“We are bringing a lot of tourism into the country,” says the Exit co-founder, explaining that the boost the festival has given to the country’s international reputation is often compared to that made by Serbian tennis champion Novak Djokovic.
Together with the tennis player, Exit Festival has now set up a foundation to help build nursery schools in Serbia, one example of the festival’s continuation of its social activist roots.
“We know that through a good party and the love of music, you really can engage people in a meaningful way and make a difference”
Another example is Life Stream, the environmental campaign launched by Exit at Amsterdam Dance Event (ADE) in October. “The Life Stream project aims to put the festival industry at the forefront of the fight for life on the planet,” explains Kovačević.
The idea is to inject imagery, text and data relating to environmental issues into live streams from music festivals, to harness the “visibility and influence” they have for the good of the planet.
“We don’t want to show despair only,” says Mešković, “we also want to show there is some hope and to mobilise people to take action – because there is still time.”
The upcoming edition of Exit will serve as a major platform for the project, with both Kovačević and Mešković hoping other festivals will follow suit.
“We know that through a good party and the love of music, you really can engage people in a meaningful way and make a difference.”
Exit 2.0 takes place from 9 to 12 July 2020 in Novi Sad, Serbia.
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