TMW’s Seventh Heaven

The seventh edition of Tallinn Music Week broke its attendance record and gave further evidence that the tiny Baltic state of Estonia’s showcase conference has become a pan-European attraction. 
TMW founder Helen Sildna, Estonia President Toomas Hendrik Ilves and music journalist Max Hagen. 

The figures show there were 853 conference delegates – about 40 more than last year – and almost two-thirds of them (63.8 percent) came from outside of Estonia. The delegates came from 34 countries, with most coming from Finland, Latvia, Russia and the UK.

What began when conference organiser Helen Sildna persuaded some international music business people that they’d enjoy a weekend visit to Tallinn has been sustained by their obvious willingness to return.

TMW’s reached its capacity and spilled out across the city with stages in public squares, while some top local restaurants are joining in by offering discounts to conference delegates.

At times it appears as if the whole country is taking part, beginning with Estonian President Toomas Hendrik Ilves, whose annual opening address has made him one of the event’s main attractions. This year without his trademark bow tie, he stuck to what seems like his annual blog on geopolitics, freedom and music.

The main themes running through the conference panels were women in the music industry and the old Eastern’s Bloc’s merger into a wider Europe.

The role of women in the business saw Sildna, who last year collected the Tampere Music Award at the Music & Media conference in Finland, schedule Viv Albertine from all-female punk band The Slits, Roxette manager Marie Dimberg, and film music supervisor Andrea von Foerster among the speakers. She also booked Georgia Taglietti (Spain’s Sonar Festival), Anna Hildur Hildibrandsdottir (NOMEX), Maria Semushkina (Russia’s Usadba Jazz Festival) and Natasha Padabed (More Zvukov Agency in The Netherlands). The showcases featured 206 artists from 26 countries and attracted 24,050 visitors to the 36 indoor and outdoor stages dotted around the Estonian capital. TMW was in Tallinn March 25-29.