Following an unprecedented number of international applications from promising artists over the course of 2019, the Innovation Network of European Showcases (INES) recently announced the full list of nominated artists for its trailblazing INES#Talent Programme.
In a unique initiative, a total of 133 acts – hand-picked by 18 participating festivals from 18 different European countries – have the opportunity to further their international careers by performing at multiple music festivals and industry showcases over the course of 2020.
Having received a record number of applications throughout July and August, each INES#festival has now selected up to fifteen promising and exportable artists from their own country to make up the official INES Talent Pool. By becoming part of the INES Talent Pool, these budding musicians now have the opportunity to perform at multiple ‘showcase festivals’ all over Europe, thereby introducing their music to senior industry professionals, leading event organisers and front-running promoters across the continent.
We sat down with Marcus Fitzgerald (Founder of INES and CEO of online booking platform Gigmit) to discuss the initiative as a whole, and to further understand how INES is championing up-and-coming talent in an innovative and unique way.
Hi Marcus. Could you first introduce yourself for our readers?
I’m Marcus Fitzgerald. I live in Berlin and I’m a lover of live music. In 2012, I founded Gigmit, which is one of the top online platforms in Europe to support festivals and clubs for booking artists and vice versa.
Describe the INES 2020 Talent Programme in 3 words.
Music across Europe.
What exactly is INES?
INES stands for Innovation Network of European Showcases and innovates the way how music spreads over borders. There are 22 festivals from 22 different European countries participating. It helps artists to get the first steps into new European music-markets and it helps all music industry professionals around the artists to connect and built cross-border business relationships that help to execute that aim of a European market instead of standalone national markets.
We implement the digital platform and technology developments as much as possible to have a new innovative approach to the known ways of playing abroad. The project is a non-profit initiative that has been co-funded by the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union.
What do you offer to young aspiring artists?
INES has two ways of supporting young talents. Firstly, INES Talent programme has an open call every year in summer and all 22 participating festivals then pick the most promising talents from their home countries. These artists get recognised faster than other artists as the festivals agree to book a certain amount of that pool.
Secondly, every festival has an open call-out. We believe in open and transparent structures which is why this part is very important to us. The calls are facilitated through Gigmit. Every artist can create a profile for free and doesn’t need to send 100s of individual emails to the festival but apply in mere minutes.
Why should young people get involved in the INES 2020 Talent Programme?
First of all, as the recent talents just have been announced, people should have a listen to these amazing bands. Why? This is the best and freshest music that Europe has to offer. A good overview can be found on our Instagram channel as we have created an art piece to bring them all together and on our Spotify, there is a new playlist with all the acts.
Do you have any advice to young people who wish to pursue an artistic career?
Work hard and create unique outstanding music. If there is a recipe, I would say it is about the music first, and artists should find out on their first small gigs how the audience react to this.
If it works out great, the music part is complete. Unfortunately, great music alone is not enough and yet even the best marketing without outstanding music won’t bring any artist far. The “whole package” is key in order to get more shows, business partners, and fans. That said, the biggest investment needs to go into photos, videos and that kind of thing. Afterwards, the biggest work afterwards needs to go into finding gigs and getting recognised.
I see too many artists applying once or twice on Gigmit instead of 100 times or even 1000 times. Ed Sheran played hundreds of small gigs, accepting small or no pay before he actually made it. This is what makes the difference.
Why did you decide to establish INES?
After gigmit had been established, I have seen more showcase festivals using Gigmit from different countries in Europe. To name a few: Ment Festival Ljubljana, Liverpool Sound City, Westway Lab in Portugal or WAVES Vienna. These are showcase festivals, which have been inspired by big festivals like SXSW in Austin, The Great Escape in Brighton, Eurosonic in Groningen or Reeperbahn Festival in Hamburg.
These festivals want to present the newest talent in front of music industry professionals and usually, there is a conference attached. I decided to visit these festivals and learn more about them. I found out that all are great festivals in their national markets but there is huge potential for a European perspective and a wider exchange.
Luckily, a few years later we got financial support from the Creative Europe Programme of the European Union which enabled us to kick-off the non-profit initiative INES to easier connect artists and music industry all over Europe.
Where would you like to see the programme a few years down the line?
I would like to have all the countries in Europe involved. Maybe even promote European music outside Europe. Apart from the countries within the initiative, we also develop the technology of gigmit behind INES to an extent, so that artists get a handrail where they should play gigs based on where listeners and fans actually are. The whole streaming economy helps us the actually access this data. Of course, we want to see a transparent ecosystem where everybody earns more to develope artist careers and festivals further and diversify our music landscape.
Where can people find out more about the work you do?