Panel: Showcase Festivals from an Artist Perspective
(Vienna, October 1, 2015)

‘No money for nothing’ or ‘the big breakthrough’? Artists tell us their stories and give us their pros and cons on showcase festivals

Katia Giampaolo (Estragon, IT)
Katia Giampaolo
(Estragon, IT)
Bernadette Karner (Rhythm & Clues 77, AT)
Bernadette Karner
(Rhythm & Clues 77, AT)
Guna Zucika (Artist Management, LV)
Guna Zucika
(Artist Management, LV)
Glenn Dickie
(Sounds Australia, AU)

A showcase festival combines networking with concerts. Performing bands not only have the opportunity to present themselves to the music-loving audience, but also to get in touch with people from the music industry. In order to gather managers, bookers and label operators at one spot, the festivals offer additional conferences that deal with the latest developments in the music industry. In this sense, it is no coincidence that this description also applies to the festival WAVES CENTRAL EUROPE. And just like the ambiguity in the dream-laden film “Inception”, this year’s installment of WAVES CENTRAL EUROPE had several layers flowing into each other. In short: This panel about showcase festivals was a panel taking place during a showcase festival.


Glenn Dickie, music export expert from the distant Australia, not only had a good lead on the panel discussion with the three invited artist managers, but also simultaneously created a 101 guide on showcase festivals with his perfectly timed questions. The first question was where the justification lies for these kinds of events, since in the age of the internet new bands can be discovered within seconds. The opinions of the three panel speakers were unanimous: in regards to discovering a band, showcase festivals might not have that big of an impact anymore, but still play an important role for networking. According to Katia Giampolo, this is because people from the music industry like to listen to the music of new bands online, before they even consider visiting a concert. This means the concert is then more of a confirmation for selecting the right band beforehand.


Guna Zucika emphasized that there is a difference between major showcase festivals, like the Eurosonic Festival, and smaller showcase festivals. It is better to first introduce the represented band at smaller festivals and secure the support of colleagues. Once the band has built a name for itself, it then makes more sense to move on to bigger events. There you will probably already have a certain fan base that will attract more viewers by word of mouth. No matter how you approach it, you will always have to repeatedly talk to bookers, managers and label operators, Bernadette Karner added. This then ensures that people remember you after a certain point.


To generate attention at a festival, everyone on the panel agreed that it is necessary to prepare months in advance. However, the question arose as to how to prepare the bands for the event. Katia Giampolo has a different game plan for each band, after all each band is in a different stage of becoming better known. With a very fresh, young group you can save a bit on the accommodation, for example accommodating them in a shared room. If the band already has a certain name, the demands are usually higher. So it is all about the small details that make a difference and ensure that things run smoothly.

Panel host Glenn Dickie certainly did not want to end the discussion with a festival bashing, but he still had to ask how a perfect showcase event would look like from the organizational standpoint. The experts shared from their experience that it is not only important to make an early announcement of the line-up, but also of conference participants. The line-up is important for online research, to make a preliminary desicion on which band you want to take a closer look at. The list of conference speakers gives you an overview of who will be participating, which is especially important in terms of networking.

Link: www.wavescentraleurope.com

Text: Anne-Marie Darok (translated from German)
Photos: © Niko Ostermann