ETEP Smashes Records

Already established as the best talent shop on this side of The Atlantic, ETEP has smashed its own records by helping 71 acts find a total of 200 European festival shows during the course of this summer.

It’s made remarkable progress since the first European Talent Exchange in 2003, which found 23 artists a total of 53 slots at 23 festivals.

The progress is remarkable because the fact ETEP has survived is remarkable, and largely thanks to Eurosonic-Noorderslag creative director Peter Smidt’s powers of persuasion when trying to raise the money to fund it.

The Dutch government helped finance the 2003 launch, although it made it clear that the responsibility for future funding should lie with Europe. It also helped ETEP secure euro 140,000 of EU cash per year for three years, but it was a pilot initiative and was stopped because “ETEP doesn’t really fit into any of the European cultural programmes.”

The participating festivals are dotted across Europe and include the big ones such as the U.K.’s Glastonbury, Benicassim (Spain), Hurricane, Southside and Rock Am Ring (Germany), Rock Werchter (Belgium), Paleo Nyon (Switzerland), Roskilde (Denmark) and Pinkpop and Lowlands, the largest of the Dutch festivals.

Other countries with festivals that have joined the scheme include Austria, Italy, Sweden, Romania, France, Serbia, Poland, Norway, Finland, Hungary and Slovakia.

“This little idea seems to be working,” ETEP organiser Ruud Berends told Holger Jan Schmidt from Germany’s Rheinkultur Festival in 2004, when the EU cash first flowed in.

ETEP survives and is still working due to the belief and collective support of the various European Music Offices, Ministries of Culture that feel it’s worth a direct grant, the Noorderslag Foundation that helps fund the Eurosonic-Noorderslag weekend, and Dutch and European rights organisations such as Buma Cultuur and Sena Performers.

By the time Smidt has passed the hat around, Music Export Hungary, Fondazione Arezzo Wave Italy, Music Export Norway, the Finnish Music Information Centre, and Wallonie Bruxelles Musique will be among the cultural organisations and export offices that have put some money in.

Smidt said he feels the problem with the EU is that the cultural budget – which now amounts to about euro 600 million ($830 million) per year – doesn’t have a separate category for music as it does for the film industry. Most of the general fund allotted to music appears to go to the classical end of the spectrum, he said.

“I think it’s a great event and a fantastic opportunity because you’ll get shows if your band is any good,” said Paul Bolton of London’s Helter Skelter agency, who had White Lies at this year’s ETEP showcase in Groningen, Holland, in January.

“It’s a chance to put the act in front of every major festival booker in Europe, as long as you’re there to make sure they’re in the room when your act is playing,” Bolton explained, after White Lies broke another ETEP record by securing 15 shows from this year’s programme. One out of four of the 60 ETEP festivals offered White Lies a slot.

As more festivals enter the scheme, the previous record has become easier to beat. In 2003, when 23 festivals booked acts from the ETEP showcase, Norway’s Kaizers Orchestra came out best with five shows.

As the number of ETEP festivals grew, so did the winning totals. A year later, the U.K.’s Franz Ferdinand got eight shows, Sweden’s Moneybrother got 10 in 2005 and the U.K.’s Editors got 12 in 2006.

There was another win for Sweden in 2007 when Loney, Dear got 10 shows, and last year the U.K. came out tops again as Blood Red Shoes managed 12 shows.

The other main beneficiaries from ETEP 2009 are the U.K.’s Baddies, which has 11 shows, Denmark’s The Asteroids Galaxy Tour (nine), Yuksek from France has eight and the same country’s Naive New Beaters have seven.

Portugal’s MTV European Music Award winners Buraka Som Sistema and Iceland’s Hjaltalín have six each.