ESNS17, DAY 2: THIS IS WHY IT IS CALLED THE ENTERTAINMENT BUSINESS

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I started the second conference day feeling surprisingly fresh (spoil alert: this was only a one time thing). “Music Moves Europe” panel was up first, hosting some of the leading voices of the industry expressing their views on the new initiative that is bringing together more than 50 music organizations around the European Commission to shape the EU’s music agenda. They came to the conclusion that in order to move things further, music industry has to come forward as a homogenous and easily understandable entity, with widely respected representatives and a powerful message, wrapped up in an effective story. Oh, and Helena Sildna, the founder and owner of Tallinn Music Week, approves my Erasmus Music Minor, he. That’s all that matter, really.

I apparently made panelists at the “Great Small Festivals – Smaller is Great!” discussion feel a bit awkward by asking for their opinion about what makes their festival special. New festivals are popping up like wild mushrooms every year and the market has become flooded with them. The audience now decides who survives in this battle field, so it is crucial to be able to distinguish your concept and stand out from the crowd. But here we have representatives of my dear Le Guess Who?, Poland’s OFF Festival, Germany’s Maifeld Derby and the Swiss Bad Bonn Kilbi, who have no idea how to answer my question. I know it can be tricky to talk about your own projects sometimes, but aren’t you the first person who should know why your work is so fucking great?! Unless you think otherwise. In that case, you maybe shouldn’t be doing it anymore. I could honestly brag about Le Guess Who? for hours, as it is one of the most brilliant concepts I’ve seen in the music industry so far. I attended OFF Festival last summer and had a great damn time. I could easily name a few qualities that make these two events special. I guess it always comes down to the personal experience anyway, but damn you guys! I really think organizers should be able to explain what makes them the coolest kids around!

The day continued with the super weird panel about booking agents. I was pretty bummed that the presentation of an export office was going on at the same time, but these six British agents performed an incredible stand-up comedy, which I would regret missing out on even more. What I got from it was that no one really wants to be an agent in the first place – it just sorta happens, you work 24/7 (but we are already used to that), you deal with the cockiest dumbasses and frankly, you are probably one of them. Yes, of course I am exaggerating again. I guess that would make me a good agent, though? But this panel also hosted a day before announced Agent of the Year Natasha Bent, who is actually far from everything I named up there. She is a kind-hearted business woman, respectful agent, a mother and wife, who missed this honourable ceremony to be with her family on holidays. Now this is how women do business!

I couldn’t attend a showcase without paying a visit to one of my favourite people in the bizz. Scott Cohen is a true pioneer in making the best of the always ch-ch-ch-changing technology. He is hands down one of the most intelligent people I know. But Scott can also scare the shit out of you with his knowledge and views (I mean, the guy is planning to robotize himself in the future??). This was the only session where I actually wrote things down, because his lectures are always incredibly useful, make a lot of sense and should be applied in practice. Nowadays, it is all about the attention battle, backed up with attention economy. The rules have changed, but you still gotta play smart. We moved from the product/ownership model to the process model, which means it is not only about achieving goals, but mostly about what kind of steps you make along the way. I was at the similar session with Scott at Waves Vienna, where he also suggested that in the digital age, we need to create a unique, native content for each platform. Strategies should be adapted to different channels, like social media, streaming and distributing services etc. But hey – funny cats videos might work everywhere…

It is not called entertainment business with no reason. As you can see, even conferences are crazy! I finished my day at De Oosterpoort with some Belgian beers that were named after Belgian bands playing at Eurosonic. I grabbed Cocaine Piss, no brainie. This band has been haunting me since I first saw them at Incubate in December and almost got my nose broken in the mosh. Good times, good times…

THIS IS THE POINT

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After having a lovely free dinner at The CEEntral Party (look, I am a student, mkay?!), I ran back to the main square to see Macedonian trio Bernays Propaganda, signed to the ass-kicking Slovenia-based label Moonlee Records, which partly makes them my hommie band. Austrian space rock trippers Mother’s Cake brought back the 60s and 70s and I also managed to catch a few songs from the Swiss atmospheric/electronic pop act YES I’M VERY TIRED NOW. Their name speaks to me in so many levels, but I gotta say, the live experience is much better than online. I honestly had no idea Tommy Cash was performing at the same time, otherwise I would love to see this insane new sensation.

Instead, I headed to Lutherse Kerk (seems like I only go to churches when at festivals) to see the British golden-boy Dan Owen. I can confirm – he is in fact golden. Or at least will be in a few very short years when the industry dudes stop fighting over him and let the little girls do the crying.

But ESNS would not be the same without some American drama, dooh. Post-punk gang Viagra Boys was formed when an expelled criminal from the US met two guys from Stockholm and they started making music inspired by Suicide and Joy Division. I have to admit, though, they proved their point up there… I don’t know what it was, but I’m pretty sure we all felt like they were making a point. Or no point, which is the point. You get the point? Good.

The crowd at Eurosonic is probably the strangest one I have witnessed so far. From old gentlemen that obviously had it rough in the 70s and 80s to sophisticated ladies carrying their conference batches always on the visible spot. There is a lot of bearded or balded (or often the combination of both) men walking around the city and you can tell by the look in their eyes they are really looking forward to reaching their next destination just so they can order another beer. I am exaggerating. Again. (or am I?) But the audience is truly a weird mixture of deformed species, who can’t seem to know how to shut up during a performance. I am already used to these situations, because in my experience, you have two options at live shows in the Netherlands: either you stand behind two giant Dutch guys shouting at each other the whole concert or you have a giant Dutch couple that won’t stop making out in front of you. Take your pick.

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Heading to Euromoney was a nice shift of the crowd – from more steady, polite audience I bumped right into the wild mosh of Rotterdam’s garage psych surfers Iguana Death Cult. Euromoney was an unofficial three day long programme residing at two of Groningen’s most vivid alternative spots De Gym and OOST. If featured some of my favourite Dutch underground bands, like Korfbal, Lewsberg, Charlie & The Lesbians, The Homesick, Lookapony, and my Belgian weakness Cocaine Piss. The melee went on from 22.00 until 4.30. Then I was destroyed.

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