ESNS17, DAY 3: STARTING UP WITH STARTING UP A STARTUP. LET’S START!

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Good morning, peeps! It’s day 3 of Eurosonic Noorderslag 2017! How much of the previous days do you remember? Most of it? Good, because we are moving on right away by starting up a startup with the lovely Virginie Berger, the Dutch Gijs Bekenkamp (sorry, this is by no means meant in a offensive way, it is just another terrible “Dutch-inspired” joke) and the charismatic Ralph Simon, one of the founders of the modern mobile entertainment and content industry, who helped to get these two startup stories across.

Berger is CEO of Armonia Online, an online music licensing and processing platform which is an alliance of national collection societies. We learned that The Armonia licensing hub includes more than 13 million works covering 33 territories, providing a single point of negotiation for digital music service providers wishing to access a broad and diverse collection of works. This concept seems quite astonishing, but I have to admit that I still haven’t woken up by this point, so it was difficult for me to gather all the information which was flooding the room. However, collecting societies are the ones who should pay better attention to this French platform. Apparently, it helps cut down a lot of paperwork from music accountancy, which will make our lives much easier.

Gijs’s startup was a bit easier to understand for all the “I-partied-too-hard-last-night” people (although there was roughly 10 of us in the room). Bekenkamp is CMO and founder of Chordify, a music e-learning platform that transforms any song into chords and makes it easy to play any music. Chordify is basically reshaping music education and adding extra experiences to music available online. The startup uses state-of-the-art music technology to not only create affordable, engaging and personalized products, but it also offers new ways for musicians to engage with their fans. Sounds cool, right? Now you will finally be able to properly rock that “Smoke On The Water”!

DINOSAURS VS. THE LITTLE BIRDIES

The whole reason I forced myself to wake up so early that morning and get my ass to the other part of town was because I was very curious about the panel that was coming up next: How can we get Young People into the Industry (yeah, I don’t know what’s with these (not)capital letters either).

Almost every showcase hosts a discussion about women in the music business (ESNS also had one (dooh), but I only found out about it when it was already over). I undoubtedly think this is an extremely important topic, which is unfortunately still far from being resolved. Some significant changes have been made and honestly, I think ladies are kicking asses in this industry! But imagine being a 19 year old girl trying to get a spot under the music sun (=crazy lighting setups in venues). I’m not gonna brag about “which one is your boyfriend” situations, but I feel like we sometimes don’t talk enough about young music professionals of tomorrow.

The starting point of ESNS’s discussion was a lack of young people in the production industry. The description was opening questions like what are the reasons behind this issue, what form does the communication between universities, pupils and people from the industry take, what kinds of jobs are lacking applicant and what do the universities and the production companies do to attract people to come into the industry. Frankly, I cannot give you any straight answers based on what we heard during that hour.

Four experienced music professionals, from which two of them are slowly but effectively approaching the title of industry’s “dinosaurs”, and one 27 year old sitting in a nice semicircle in front of us. But wait, amm, where are young people?! There is not many present on the other side of the room either. As you could guess, this was another one in the series of odd panels. The room got a bit fuller after a while, but you could spot a handful of attendees looking younger than 25. Unfamiliar men sharing their stories were a consultancy master, a teacher + head of technical department of poppodium Gebouw-T, the Friendly Fire guy, then the only “still-in-my-twenties” looking Danish (but he is an IT guy, so I’m not sure if it even counts, hihi) and a CEO of EPS Holding gmbh, which I later found out (aka googled) is a company that provides equipment rental for events, construction sites and military sector. How lovely!

So they started with stories about how they got into this business (where even if you are a quite successful professional, you will probably never be rich. But, as all these guests endorsed it, this is not why we are here. And if you are only doing this because you think you will be able to buy four houses and spend the whole summer on your “I-have-a-small-penis” screaming yacht, better walk away now. ____________ *thinking* _____________ Actually, no, I am pretty sure you can do it if you are stubborn, confident and intelligent + the right amount of dumb enough. But kiddo, never forget to keep your heart and mind in the right place, please.) We didn’t find out anything spectacular. It is always same old “go out and do it” story. But the truth is, this is really all you can do. I was also looking for some magic formula or someone that would whisper all the secrets of this industry right into my ears, but this is not how it works. The fact that we were all in the coldest part of the Netherlands at the freaking Eurosonic Noorderslag sticking at this rather boring debate proves that we are on the right track.

Volunteering is definitely a great stepping stone for anyone thinking about getting into this mess, but you should also know when it is time to move on and stop doing charity (and I am looking at myself here). Attending different shows, seminars, showcases and other cultural events can also be a nice opportunity for networking. You just basically need to get yourself involved and someone will sooner or later (hopefully, lol) recognize your effort, enthusiasm and good work. Sometimes this process might be a bit slower and it can really frustrate you at some point, but you should try to turn it into motivation and just keep rocking your way.

Music education programmes are undoubtedly helping with integrating youngsters into this business as well. Although some people in the room were a bit critical about the amount of music minors and bachelor programmes in the Netherlands, I feel that these courses not only offer some basic understanding of the music industry, but they also help students make first connections in the business world, get cool internships, provide an opportunity for consultancy or even mentoring (if you are lucky enough) and most importantly, they gather kids with similar interests and passions. It creates a community of young music enthusiasts ready to change the world! This is one of the big differences I’ve noticed between the Slovenian and Dutch music scene – the youth is much better organized here. Crazy teenagers will keep getting together to smoke some weed and come up with mindblowing ideas, but these little birds here know how to fly on their own. There is no need for whining about not being able to swim in the papás’ big pool, because they already offered a good knowledge foundation and support to build their own freaking spa.

THE SOUND OF YOUNG HOLLAND

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What I am talking about was nicely demonstrated by the whole extra and unofficial programme that was happening all around Groningen during ESNS. LepeL Concerts, for example, is the local organisation that is aiming to promote new, unknown music and provide a space for promising new artists to perform in front of the local audience. They gathered forces with the independent record label Subroutine Records and organized their own little showcase at two local pubs featuring the rising Dutch talent. In two days, The Sound of Young Holland V programme served us with their finest alternative voices, including bands like Deutsche Ashram, Naive Set, HWRH, The Sweet Release of Death, Slow Worries, Venus Tropicaux, Nouveau Vélo, Korfbal, The Homesick and Baby Galaxy.

Later on, this party moved to the other side of the canal to Kroeg Van Klaas, where De Garage van Klaas event filled every corner of the pub. I was able to get a glimpse of the amazing Amsterdam’s trollers Canshaker Pi and Eindhoven’s sweethearts Mozes And The Firstborn. We didn’t have any space to move in front of that stage, so people had no other choice but jump along. At the end of their show, I was bathing in my own sweat, but man, it felt unbelievably good!

SOME MORE SWEATING

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Friday was the night when I saw the most gigs. Sadsschouwburg has to be the sickest venue in Groningen, though! Chic British dolls Let’s Eat Grandma completely seduced the audience there. I gotta give them that – I also foolishly smiled during their magical psychedelic trick-show. My 17-year-old version was a bit (ok, a lot!) jealous and everyone in the room could tell that these talented putative pop stars will be going plaaaaaces!

Torus’s ambient trance felt appropriate after witnessing the coolest version of Grady twins and electronic Czech duo Himalaya Dalai Lama filled me with pleasant downtempo arts of chillwave, ambient, triphop and techno.

British “lover” band Novo Amor was definitely a warm surprise with signature lyrical integrity and ethereal songs which conjure up a sense of nostalgia and heartbreak. I also got a sneak peek of Ukraine’s “most fashionable” performers Onuka, who were allegedly “a must” of ESNS 2017. Stage setup was indeed extravagant, but I am more of a sucker for sweaty musicians playing in dark, moldy holes, so I didn’t find anything truly majestic about their show.

One of the highlights of the Eurosonic programme that night was definitely It’s everyone else, the loudest duo on the Slovenian music scene right now. They declare themselves as ‘too hardcore for the electro kids, too electro for the hardcore kids’, but there’s a lot of pure punk/hardcore attitude kicking back. Be careful with them, though – they WILL bite!

I didn’t get a chance to see Belgian rippers Cocaine Piss for like the fifth (?) time in the past two months, because De Spieghel was completely packed. Unfortunately, I also missed retro-futuristic indie Germans White Wine and Austrian pop dreamers Farewell Dear Ghost, but they are definitely the ones to watch out. I guess missing out some dope acts is just a part of every festival. The good thing is, Eurosonic will hopefully boost their music careers, so we might be seeing these bands around quite often.

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