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Setting a glocal trend: UPBEAT showcase platform

Folk never felt so stylish as the Blogothèque production of Macedonian rising star Zarina Prvasevda’s soaring voice on the stairs of Les Arènes de Lutèce, Paris. It’s all done in authentic arrangement, sprinkled with the natural charm of traditional music and of course Zarina, Best New Talent of 2023 according to the public and industry voters of UPBEAT. Celebrating the rise of her talent, emerging from a relatively unknown corner of Europe as well as marking a growing trend, the video is more than the unaffected allure of its musicians.

In an era of glocalizing markets, local heritage and cultural niches are gaining ground, and industry players are leaning into the trend. As Chris Dalla Riva and Will Page pointed out in a recent article, local, non English-speaking artists are thriving on streaming platforms, and chart-toppers increasingly perform in their native languages. UPBEAT, the European showcase platform for world music counting 14 members – WOMEX, Tallinn Music Week, PIN Music Conference and Budapest Ritmo among them – set out to assist new talent like Zarina, inspired by their own heritage and singing in their native languages; anything but the dated industry standard of English.

Europe is a well-chosen locale for the initiative, with its prism of cultural identities, centrally available resources and legislation. Countering the fear of fractured identities and markets, artists like Zarina are met with increasing interest: authenticity seems to outweigh generic production practices, if they find the right audience. And authentic she is, collecting folk songs from grandmas and standing up publicly for environmental causes, while mesmerising audiences with her singing. Voted best from a pool of 100 showcasers, she will hopefully get to more and more listeners, beyond her native North Macedonia and the Balkan region.

UPBEAT takes the lead in concentrating resources and effort into these segments, finding unity in diversity. The Creative Europe Programme sponsors the project with two million euros, matched by partners; some of the money channeled into the festival infrastructure, some going straight to artists and delegates; strengthening the community of European music professionals. It works on a membership basis, with sustainable criteria set as a benchmark in order to impact the industry as a whole. Hatched by Hangvető, a Budapest-based music firm with rising European relevance, UPBEAT is both setting and riding a trend.

In its first year, 140 bands from 30 countries and 200 delegates were supported by the project, shaping the music business one showcase festival at a time. Blogothèque’s video, reaching millions, is just one way of getting these artists across national borders. UPBEAT weighs in on the side of a better-connected European market, leaving artists’ originality unaffected. The platform, dedicated to new talent, music in original language and sustainability can serve as a model for value-driven business in other sectors and locations, answering the most critical challenges of our time.

UPBEAT stands for support of new talent, support of music in original language, sustainability, and strengthening the European network of industry professionals. World/global music artists and experts based in Europe have much to offer – follow and join UPBEAT for industry news and connections.


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