Austrian Music Export 2023: The Year in Review

Photo of AZE at MENT 2023 (c) Lenart Lukšič
AZE at MENT 2023 (c) Lenart Lukšič

In 2023, Austrian Music Export turned lucky 13 – and it was a wild one. The world is in a weird place, what with wars and the environment both smoldering and unchecked corporate power making life tougher for almost everyone. People are anxious, providing an opening for those who would use fear and xenophobia to their own political ends…it’s a fair question what the role of music is in such times!

Well, without wanting to sound too grandiose: we try to provide an antidote to the worst trends of our time and contribute to a better vision of the world. In 2023 we devoted space to climate activism, women and marginalized communities, and musicians working against corporate greed – and that’s just on this website. Austrian Music Export is here to promote Austrian music, obviously – but that includes promoting understanding and exchange between countries, cultures, and communities in Europe and beyond. Music is rooted in idealism, and what is idealism but a vision of a better world? With this in mind, we proudly present our activities for the year 2023.

Music Export Projects and Initiatives

Focus Acts

In 2023, the Focus Acts program, funded by the Federal Ministry for Arts, Culture, Public Service and Sports (BMKÖS), once again supported the international touring activities of a number of artists. This year’s acts included Alicia Edelweiss, Anna Koch, Bipolar Feminin, Good Wilson, Leftovers, Meretrio, My Ugly Clementine, SALÒ, Shake Stew, the Sketchbook Quartet, Takeshi’s Cashew, and UCHE YARA.

For the first time, the Focus Acts program included an additional premium for artists who presented a climate-friendly touring concept; Alicia Edelweiss, Anna Koch, Saló, and Uche Yara all qualified for the bonus.

Building Bridges

Photo of the Austrian Building Bridges delegation (c) Bettina Schöll
Austrian Building Bridges delegation (c) Bettina Schöll

Austrian Music Export launched the pilot project “Building Bridges” this year to foster training and international exchange – and it really took off. Starting with a mission to Switzerland in March with 22 participating music professionals, the program continued with a songwriting camp during the run-up to Waves Vienna in September, a coaching and mentoring program that will continue into 2024, and a recent fact-finding mission to Bogotá, Colombia – in other words, the program has come a long way in a short time, and we’re excited to see where it goes next.

Austrian Music Fund(ing)

As a happy footnote to cap off the year, the BMKÖS announced a major funding boost for the Austrian Music Fund (ÖMF), to the tune of €1.5 million over the next three years. The funding will be devoted to supporting the international touring and promotion of Austrian artists, as well as innovative marketing concepts.

Festival Highlights

Austrian acts performing at international festivals in 2023 were frankly almost too numerous to count – but that won’t stop us from trying…

MME Awards OSKA (c) Ben Houdijk ESNS23
OSKA receives the MME Award (c) Ben Houdijk/ESNS23
Video: Jazzfestival Saalfelden 2023
XA – Export Award 2023 winner BEX mit FARCE, Franz Hergovich and Thomas Heher by Alexander Galler
FARCE, Franz Hergovich, BEX and Thomas Heher (c) Alexander Galler

Communication highlights

With the cooperation of marketing agency Factory92, Austrian Music Export launched two playlist-based marketing offensives in 2023: the first, Jazz & Global Music From Austria, featured a selection of jazz and global music from Austria, handpicked by Vienna promoters and music journalists – Julia Lacherstorfer, Kurdophone, Soveles and many more. The campaign attracted internatinal interest, with German broadcaster Hessischer Rundfunk devoting an hour-long podcast episode to the featured artists.

On the heels of that success followed Vienna Electro 2023, timed to coincide with Popfest Wien, with a playlist compiled by festival curator Dorian Concept and featuring artists like Kimyan Law, Fennesz, and the collective Wetter Etc.

Kick Jazz was featured prominently in local media, with the radio station Ö1 running a feature and (separately) a lengthy interview with pianist Simon Raab, who debuted his new album at the festival.

What’s next?

We’re excited for 2024: the new funding for the Austrian Music Fund means more resources for Austrian acts on tour, for one thing, and we’ll be reporting on additional funding categories and guidelines as they are made public. 2024 also marks the 20th(ish) year of NASOM, the New Austrian Sound of Music program; we’re planning a special series on NASOM acts over the last two decades and what they’re up to now.

Whatever comes, we here at Austrian Music Export will be keeping you up to date on it to the best of our ability – here on the homepage, on social media, and in our newsletter (oh, you didn’t know we had a newsletter?)

So from all of us here at Austrian Music Export to all of you: have a great holiday season and a happy and healthy start to 2024. Keep reading, but most of all – keep listening!

Philip Yaeger