It’s a beloved tradition for music lovers all over Europe: In order to start the year in a productive, exciting and challenging way, the Eurosonic Noorderslag, the biggest showcase festival in Europe, invites musicians, fans, business associates and journalists from the whole continent to the city of Groningen. Here’s the place where to spot what’s going to be potentially huge, where to point our attention and what trends are to be expected business-wise. And that for 30 years already. A big success that has a lot to do with the passion and strong beliefs of the organisational team behind it. Peter Smidt has been on board from the very beginning 30 years back, he founded the idea of Eurosonic Noorderslag and still is the Creative Director. The perfect person to be approached when it comes to professional opinions on the music business as well as matters of idealism in pop culture. So that’s what we did!
30 years of Eurosonic Noorderslag. Did you ever think that the event will get that big and important? It surely started with a small idea?
We started presenting 10 bands from Holland and 10 from Belgium because we thought they were good and little people knew them.Then we started presenting the best new bands from Holland in one night under one roof and everyone, especially press, loved them. We did that for several years and then thought we need a platform to show European acts because we in Holland like our Dutch bands but we had no clue what acts were happening in Denmark, Poland, Spain or other European countries.
Also we focused on the live music on our conference. When we started most people thought live is not very interesting. Now everyone is.
Were do you see the crucial turning points of the last thirty years?
We noticed that at first some people thought no one is interested in music from Europe (except when it is coming from UK) that has changed a lot. People are curious for music coming from all different countries in Europe now.
In these 30 years also the music industry changed tremendously. What got better, what got harder in your opinion?
Communication has become easier. The market has grown. The income for smaller artists has become even less than it was. That is a shame.
At the moment it looks like the live market is about to slowly break together. Festivals are not sold-out anymore and the live market is oversaturated. How do you see the current movements in the live market and how does this affect the EurosonicNoorderslag?
The audience has a lot of choice how to spend their time and have lots of opportunities for entertainment. Including a lot of live music entertainment. As an event you have to be attractive for consumers if you want to sell tickets. EurosonicNoorderslag is lucky to have a very loyal audience that is curious to discover new music.
How do you see the music industry in general at the moment? The recording industry pretty much broke together, the live market is oversaturated, the publishers also don’t want to take risks. Who helps the great small artists and builds them up?
This is the main question we discuss at EurosonicNoorderslag conference.
But on a different level it is important to say that only artists from countries with strong music export offices (Scandinavia, France, etc.) get spotlighted. What about artists from other countries, for example South and East Europe?
There are many great artists that don’t get the chance to get spotlighted or the financial risk is too high for them to take the chance to play showcase festivals. True. We love to have great artists from south and East Europe. That is exactly why we do a focus on Central Eastern Europe this year. We want to show what is happing there.
How do you take care to stick with your ideals and the reasons why you started the EurosonicNoorderslag?
We do this out of idealistic reasons.
One last question: what do ‘hope’ and ‘passion’ mean to you?
In business I am very lucky because I love to work with a great team of passionate people actually doing and creating things (events and opportunities) a lot of other people think are not possible. And I have this great team and I am doing it.
Eurosonic Noorderslag is taking place from January 13th to 16th in Groningen, Netherlands. Check out our recommendations for this year right here and stay tuned for our after report on the events here on NOTHING BUT HOPE AND PASSION.