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
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.
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.
Austrian acts performing at international festivals in 2023 were frankly almost too numerous to count – but that won’t stop us from trying…
- As always, the festival year kicked off with ESNS in Groningen, attended this year by Aze, Doppelfinger, Florence Arman, Good Wilson, OSKA, Takeshi’s Cashew, Toupaz, UCHE YARA and Wallners…and as a climax, OSKA walked away with the coveted Music Moves Europe Award.
*Late-breaking addendum: in mid-December, ESNS released their end-of-year listings, and what do you know: UCHE YARA tied for 2nd place on the most-booked ESNS artists of 2023!
- c/o Pop followed in April, featuring Aze, UCHE YARA, CHRISTL and SALÒ, as well as an Austrian Heartbeats reception.
- March saw Aze, Kenji Araki, Toupaz and UCHE YARA performing at the MENT Festival in Ljubljana, which also hosted an Austrian Heartbeats reception.
- In April, the annual jazzahead! trade fair and festival took place in Bremen, featuring a commissioned work by Heinrich von Kalnein and the bands Purple is the Color and Gina Schwarz‘s Multiphonics 8.
- In May, DIVES, FARCE, Good Wilson and UCHE YARA all traveled to the UK to play at The Great Escape in Brighton; we also put on a special Austrian Heartbeats showcase at Wombat’s in London featuring Good Wilson and FARCE.
- As the weather warmed, ATZUR, FARCE, and Dorian Concept all traveled to Spain to perform at Primavera in Barcelona.
- Jazzfestival Saalfelden was (as always) a big, beautiful jumble of musicians, styles, and stages – highlights and headliners included Lukas Kranzelbinder, Yvonne Moriel, Takeshi’s Cashew, Dives, featured artist Lukas Koenig, Endless Wellness, Ralph Mothwurf, and many, many more.
- The impuls Festival in Graz – featuring ensembles such as the Schallfeld Ensemble, Strings&Noise, between feathers, and Anna Koch – bridged July and August. This year, Austrian Music Export invited international promoters to the festival to check out Austrian acts.
- In September, the weather stayed warm and the festivals kept on coming…Waves Vienna went off with a bang, featuring a long list of artists from Austria abroad and an exhaustive program of workshops, presentations, and panel discussions. As always, one highlight was the competition for the XA Export Award, won this year by the extravagant rapper BEX.
- Further: A slew of Austrian acts played at Hamburg’s Reeperbahn Festival: UCHE YARA, Sophia Blenda, Bipolar Feminin, FILLY, AVEC, Mother’s Cake, Bibiza, NIKOTIN, AYMZ, and Sofie Royer. In addition, fiio, Rahel, Anda Morts, and Cousines Like Shit played an Austrian Heartbeats showcase at the storied Indra Club.
- October brought us to Nuremberg Pop, where we co-sponsored a networking brunch with the Association for Pop Culture in Bavaria and saw another substantial list of Austrian artists – Bibiza, fiio, Rahel, SALÒ, Lorenz Ambeek, Cari Cari, and Oskar Haag.
- And finally, as the year draws to a close, we put on Kick Jazz 2023, the annual two-night showcase of Austrian jazz talent in Porgy & Bess. This year’s performers included Anna Anderluh, Preuschl / Valcic, Peter Rom, Simon Raab, otherMother, and Candlelight Ficus, as well as Slovenian guest act VIRA. The event was well attended by both enthusiastic jazz fans and international promoters. Local and international press also reported on it – Radio Ö1 reported on it and conducted an in-depth interview with Raab; Hamburg journalist Jan Paersch also featured it in his regular column for TAZ.
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.
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!