Eurosonic Noorderslag in Holland is one of Europe’s most important launch pads for putting new music into cross continental trajectories. For the upcoming festival in January the Dutch hosts have chosen Norway as the event’s country of focus.
-Naturally we take it as a sign that there is a lot of faith right now in Norwegian music and the way our music industry is developing, says Pål Dimmen of Music Export Norway.
-The people behind Eurosonic are very professional and updated. Their huge network allows them to follow the music scene in every country very closely. They pay a lot of attention to all the auxiliary aspects that need to be in place for a county’s music industry to be vital and competitive, and when they select a country of focus the choice is founded on a broad picture where all the different elements are taken into consideration.
No less than 21 Norwegian acts have been selected for the festival, which entails a unique opportunity to showcase their music and performances to the top cadre of European bookers. In turn this implies the chance to play the most important festivals and venues across the continent and hopefully create sustainable artistic careers outside of Norway. Hailing from a small country with a very limited domestic marked this is the only way to go for many artists. That is why Norwegian acts must be especially honed in on events such as Eurosonic, and the Norwegian industry apparatus must be professional in its foreign policy.
-I believe that the European music industry has really opened its eyes to the level of professionalism that we have reached in Norway. One thing is the quality and diversity of the music itself, but the strategic aspect is just as important. The feedback we have been getting over the past years from people that we have invited to Norway -to Øya and by:Larm e.g.- is that they are very impressed by the way we work. They recognize that the Norwegian music industry is now fully adapted and operatively tuned to the reality that there is a European and global market for Norwegian music, and conversely, that Norway is a vibrant and attractive destination for international acts.
The focus on Norway will also manifest in the conference part of Eurosonic, which includes seminars, panel debates and different forums for networking and exchanging information among the industry representatives.
-We still haven’t received the final plan for the conference, says Dimmen. But there will be two Norwegian panel debates, one on Norwegian metal and one entitled Destination Norway.
Eurosonic’s (still not finalized) conference program reads:
Panel 1: The truth about Norwegian Black and Extreme metal
Since the early 1990s many myths about the Norwegian Black and Extreme metal scene have emerged. Bands such as Mayhem, Burzum, Darkthrone, Immortal, Enslaved, Dimmu Borgir, Satyricon and Emperor have created a unique Norwegian metal sound and made it world famous. But some of them have also caused controversy due to dramatic events involving members of this metal scene.
But what is fact and what is fiction? And how come Norway has become such a hub for Black and Extreme metal? We invite you to hear the truth about what Norwegian metal is and what it is not, as told by prominent members of the Black and Extreme metal scene.
Panel 2: Destination Norway - an introduction to the Norwegian live music market
The last decade Norway has seen a large increase in numbers of club concerts, arena shows and not least a remarkable growth in the festival market. Being a rather small country on the outskirt of Europe with barely 4.5 millions living there, the live music scene is as vibrant as in any other European country. Oslo, the capital city, alone throws off about 5000 shows a year, a lot more than both Copenhagen and Stockholm.
But how does the Norwegian live music market work? How to get your artists to play at Norwegian venues and festivals? How to tour this country known for its mountains and fjords? Representatives from venues, promoters, festivals and booking agencies will give you an introduction.
As for the selected bands, the variety is great, from world music, to metal and jazz. –A testimony that Norwegian music does not rely on success in specific genres; that it is the musical environment as such that has come into bloom. We asked Eurosonic’s Robert Meijerink for an outside view of the state of Norwegian music:
-The number of Norwegian bands making their way out to Europe and the greater world is noteworthy, says Meijerink, and so is the range in genres and expressions. Norway has been on Eurosonic’s shortlist for a couple of years now, and we decided to make it our country of focus for 2010. It is a rotational system, but of course we only choose countries that have the necessary infrastructure in place so that what we can present at Eurosonic is a wide spotlight that exhibits all the different aspects that make up a country’s music scene and industry.
Meijerink, who is the chief booker at Eurosonic, has attended Norwegian festivals such as Øya and by:Larm regularly over the past few years. He finds that the reputation that these festivals enjoy internationally and the overall quality of the composite product of Norwegian music is something that has been getting stronger and stronger gradually.
-I think Norway has been getting there step by step, says Meijerink. It is a development that really started maybe 10-15 years ago, and now we are seeing a high standard of professionalism of commitment in every part of the industry in Norway.
The 21 acts that will be representing Norway in January have all been selected on the basis of submitted demos to the festival except from the two chosen by National Norwegian Radio Station P3: The pop miracles Donkeyboy and Pony The Pirate.
-Eurosonic is a main partner to EBU, explains Meijerink, which entails that the EBU-affiliated Radio Station in every member country of the European Broadcasting Union gets to select two special feature artists. EBU broadcasts these artists’ concerts directly from Groningen all over Europe.
Meijerink thinks the future is bright for the model using national radio stations and the EBU organisation to bring new music out to listeners in Europe.
-Of course, now that the radio stations are offering live music over the internet, as well as in the old fashioned way, audiences across Europe get to hear real time live concerts at Eurosonic, with superior quality of production. Second to being present at the venue, this is easily the best way of checking out the music we present at Eurosonic, says Meijerink. And after the festival the concerts will be available in an array of different formats.
In January Donkeyboy and Pony the Pirate will play live across a whole continent then. The notion of radio being a vehicle for the future of music is a fitting illustration of the borderless and dynamic –less corporate and more democratic- nature that the music industry is taking on.