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Albert Meijer
Role
Advisor Culture - Creative Europe
Email
a.meijer [at] dutchculture.nl
 

Creative Europe projects: ESNS helps new European pop music acts to boost their international career

Creative Europe projects: ESNS helps new European pop music acts to boost their international career

Creative Europe supports Eurosonic Noorderslag through the European Platforms programme. An interview with Robert Meijerink, head of programme ESNS.
By Albert Meijer
Cultuur

The publication Creative Europe 2014 - 2020 contains an overview of the Dutch participation in the Creative Europe programme during this period. It not only presents the statistics but also explores the stories behind the projects that were supported. One of these projects is the Groningen-based pop music festival, Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS). We interviewed Robert Meijerink, head of programme ESNS.

“Before applying for funding through the European Platforms programme, we had received Creative Europe funding for a large-scale collaborative project. Our idea was to further pursue European collaboration in the field of pop music and to support the booking of European acts through the European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP).

We already had many eager parties in the Netherlands, such as the municipality of Groningen, the province of Groningen and Buma/Cultuur. But we needed more parties in Europe and funding to help get this project on the road. Without those initial European project grants, we would never have attained our current level. We still cherish that.”

Media
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Robert Meijerink, head of Programme Eurosonic Noorderslag/ ESNS
Caption
Robert Meijerink, head of Programme Eurosonic Noorderslag/ ESNS
Authors
ESNS
Cultivating the European back yard

“The reason we chose to focus on Europe is that the media were, and still are, very focused on Anglo-American pop music. There is a strong sense that everything that comes from there is better than what’s happening in our own backyard. We felt the urge to change this and to look at the music scene in Europe. But still, every year I get asked the question ‘but why?’ And then I answer that we’re proud of what’s going on in Europe.

The ETEP network spans 130 music festivals and there’s a waiting list of festivals wanting to participate. We monitor the number of bookings, and if no ETEP acts are booked, then the membership is annulled. When we started 35 years ago, there were no showcase festivals in Europe on this scale. Nowadays there are other festivals that say they aim to do the same, but then still do something slightly different. Throughout the years, ESNS has built up a solid position.”

There is a strong sense that everything that comes from Anglo-American countries is better than what’s happening in our own backyard
Discovering performers and networkers

“I’m quite proud to have a festival in the Netherlands where the entire European music industry converges. We have examined why music professionals come to Groningen for ESNS, and the number one reason is in order to discover performers. The second reason, often cited, is in order to network and for the conference, which is always about very specific topics that are relevant to today’s music industry. Topics range from sustainability to how you organise the catering, and from new music platforms to diversity issues.

It is our mission to be relevant and up-to-date. The last two editions of ESNS were forced to take place online, because of the pandemic. Fortunately, we were able to successfully convert the ESNS core values into an online format with our partners, as a conference and as a platform for new talent.”

Media
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Dua Lipa in Paradiso. Photo by A. Manuels via Wikimedia Commons
Caption
Dua Lipa in Paradiso. Photo by A. Manuels via Wikimedia Commons
Authors
A. Manuels via Wikimedia Commons
Springboard

Dua Lipa referred to ESNS as the place where her career really took off. At our festival, she was programmed at a small concert venue called Vera, and one year later she was an international pop star. ESNS has a long list of success stories to boast about. So many acts played our festival and then went on to become mainstream. Many other acts didn’t, of course, and there were acts who were already bigger at our festival than we had figured beforehand. Some people are a star even before their breakthroughs. Consider Stromae, for instance: he sent us a rider which we thought was a bit over the top. Nobody in the Netherlands had heard of him, but he turned out to already have quite a following in Southern Europe. So, in the end, we had to arrange a bigger stage for him than we had planned for because there was so much interest.

Looking ahead, we would like to start monitoring more carefully the impact that ESNS and ETEP have on performers’ careers. I would personally like to focus more on talent development, in order to help performers further their careers. Performers often perform at ESNS at an early point in their careers. A performer like Ólafur Arnalds, who performed with us as an unknown person in Café de Spiegel (in Groningen) and now has an international career, shows what ESNS and ETEP can do for a performer’s development."

ESNS has a long list of success stories to boast about, Dua Lipa referred to ESNS as the place where her career really took off
About the project

Project: European Talent Exchange Programme (ETEP)
Project leader: Eurosonic Noorderslag (ESNS), Groningen
Participating countries: festivals throughout Europe and beyond
Discipline: Pop music
Duration: 1/12/2015 – 30/11/2021
Scheme: European Platforms
Allocation Creative Europe: € 500,000 a year

Read this article in Dutch

Are you interested in participating in the Creative Europe Culture programme? Please contact our advisor Albert Meijer.

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